Who is my John Lennon?

Last night, while enjoying a quite night with the Hubby, a bottle of wine, and our DVR, we saw a commercial for the upcoming season of Psych. While we really enjoy that show, the commercial promised a cavalcade of 80s stars appearing is guest spots this season — all being lip synched to a Simple Minds’ pop anthem. If you’re my age – you know the one – the one we ALL lip synched to while pretending to be the brain, the athlete, the basketcase, the princess, or the criminal.  So, this got me to thinking – while opening another bottle of wine – who is the voice of Generation X?

The Boomers had John Lennon. He was theirs. And whether or not you liked the Beatles, in that generation you were united in his death. The Greatest Generation had Sinatra and Carson. I still remember my grandmother’s quiet sadness when Johnny passed away. He was 11 p.m. voice of her generation. So, who is mine?

All of this wine  brainstorming led to a late night scribbled list of GenX icons that I am going to feebly attempt to categorize to find the right one/ones. I’m covering all media types: music, movies, TV.

Close, but no cigar. The Runner Ups.

  • The Brat Pack.  Not the Rat Pack of Frankie and Dean, but the actors in the late 80s that appeared in St. Elmo’s Fire and a host of other coming-of-age dramadies. Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy. Most of these guys played college graduates while I was barely in high school. With few exceptions, I find these actors to be slightly further in their lives than I am, but very, very close.
  • Tom Cruise & Kevin Bacon. It seemed that every other week one of these guys appeared in a new flick while I was growing up. Admit it: You have either slid across the floor in your socks wearing underpants and lip synching to Bob Seger, or you tried to do one of the dances from Footloose at some point in your life. Probably in public. But again, just slightly older and not really my voice.
  • Madonna. While I love Madge, and can’t believe my mother let me wear a belt that said “Boy Toy” on it when I was 12, she turned 50 a last year and – ahem – I didn’t. But I find her a figure that is nearly inseparable from the 80s.
  • The Stand By Me Kids. This film is a must see for anyone – and even though it takes place in 1959, every kid can identify with the adventures of Will Wheaton, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O’Connell. But the real reason that this is group is on this list is River Phoenix. His early passing 1993 was the first wakeup call for me that no, I wasn’t going to live forever. His was actually the first name to surface in our drunken discussion over this topic. And surprisingly, I’m still angry at him for dying so young.
The Not-So-Definitive List. Caveat: This is MY list, in no particular order. I’m sure you have YOUR list, and that’s fine. Please feel free to comment if you think I’ve missed some big ones.
  • John Cusack.  Ok, he may have me by a couple of years, but I’ve had a crush on him since I was 12. And I named my son Lane — yes, after Lane Meyer from Better Off Dead. [Truth be told: when we were searching for names we stumbled across Lane on an old list of names from the 1920s. Immediately we started quoting from the movie, and there was really no going back after that.] And really, which GenXer can not think of the Boombox scene everytime we hear Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes.
  • U2. Bono, The Edge, the….um…other guys. The Joshua Tree was released when I was a freshman in high school, and while this was U2’s fifth album, it was the one that made them superstars to us. Prior to that they were just a band from Ireland with cool videos on MTV that made you want to sing along.
  • Will Smith. Whatever you think about him, in 9th grade I knew that Parent Just Don’t Understand. I loved all the Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff albums – still do. They were funny and smart, and (as a parent now I appreciate SO much more) had clean lyrics. But mostly, I could relate to these lyrics – especially in the early days of hip-hop. [I was neither black nor angry, so F*ck the Police didn’t really do it for me.] While I was in college, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air seemed to be in syndication on every channel at least 7 times a day. And then Big Willie hit the movies. Men in Black, Independence Day, Bad Boys, you name it. He’s everywhere in my world.
  • Drew Barrymore. [Kudos to the Hubby for coming up with this one.] She may be a Dark Horse in this category, but I feel like I literally grew up with her. We saw her first as five year old Gertie in E.T., and then as a kid with supernatural powers in Firestarter. But most importantly, she was playing kids just about my age. And I knew she wasn’t a 30 year old playing the part of a high schooler (why Micheal J. Fox isn’t on my list.) She had problems when we had problems, she was rebellious when I was rebellious, she dated one of the two Coreys for crying out loud! Now she seems to have matured and found her voice in Hollywood, just as my GenXers seem to have these days as well.
So, that’s it. I know there are others. I have a whole page full of scribbled names: Ferris Bueller, Bon Jovi, Winona Ryder, Mark Whalberg, Charlie Sheen, etc. that for one reason or another I just didn’t all encompassing as those I listed. I’m open to suggestions…

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