I was seventeen when Reality Bites was released. I went to the cinema, with a group of friends to see it. This year is the film’s twentieth anniversary and the movie stands up, still – after twenty years.
The film is a snapshot of Generation X and their attempts of a group of friends to make sense of their lives after graduating college. The movie follows the ups and downs of four characters. Lelaina Pierce the valedictorian of her college and aspiring film-maker (Winona Ryder), Troy Dyer (Ethan Hawke) who despite his high IQ can’t seem to find his place in the world as well as Vickie Miner played by the amazing (Janeane Garofolo) who as Vickie works at the Gap for minimum wage. In the film she is struggles with a promiscuous past in which she must confront whether or not she could has contracted HIV. Then there is Sammy Gray (Steve Zahn) who is in the closet and wanting to come out to his family before he ‘does the big A’.
Directed by Ben Stiller who also plays Micheal Grates and Winona’s would-be boyfriend in the film and written by Helen Childress the film pinpoints a moment in time and translates it successfully into film.
Who can forget the scene in the service station where Lelaina and Vickie dance to My Sharona. Or when Vickie discusses her fears about having an AIDS test worrying that everyone will come to her funeral in halter tops like in Melrose place? There are so many great moments in Reality Bites, the humour is cracking and has stood the test of time – the jokes are still funny and the serious moments still poignant.
For me watching “Reality Bites” again was a blast from the past and one that I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting again. Happy twentieth anniversary Reality Bites!
Speaking of all things Generation X, Douglas Coupland’s book Generation X also follows a group friends who ares trying to distill meaning in their lives in a period (the late 90’s) when everything seems to be futile and meaningless. The Baby Boomer’s have left Generation X with environmental destruction, flimsy values and a sense of inertia. Telling stories to one another is the only way Dag, Claire and Andy can try and make any sense of their lives. They refuse to be a ‘target market’ working Mcjobs ( low pay, low prestige, low-dignity no future jobs), and ‘dropping out’ in order to live a life in which meaning is constructed through the small moments and storytelling. Andy, Claire and Dag’s stories form the backbone of the book. They are amusing, poignant and disturbing revealing the inner world of the characters.
‘Generation X – Tales for an accelerated culture’ spawned the term ‘Generation X’ which is now the infamous defining term for the generation born after the Baby Boomers. A good read and an interestingly set out book that includes definitions of all things Gen X.
Suzanne Vega is famous for the 90’s hit Tom’s Diner but one of my favourite albums of all time is Vega’s 99.9 fahrenheit degrees. This album doesn’t include Tom’s Diner – every track on this album though is great. A real gem from the 90’s and definitely one to check out!