MTV Generation

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Official Logo of MTV and synonymous with the generation that grew up watching it.
Official Logo of MTV and synonymous with the generation that grew up watching it.

The MTV Generation is a term describing a generation gap or sub-generation that includes the end of the Generation X (a generation following the post-World War II baby boom, especially Americans and Canadians born in the 1960s and 1970s) yet importantly includes the elders of Generation Y (a generation considered to follow Generation X from 1975 onwards). It is one of the only bridges between the Consciousness Revolution era (into which the MTV Generation would be the last to be born) and the starting point of the Culture Wars era in which the major part of Generation Y would be born.

However, the offspring of those who were born from parents of the baby boomers Generation in the mid-to-late 1970s and early 1980s who do not necessarily fit in to Generation X's overview are considered to be a generation within itself - namely Generation XY often referred to under several known names by the media and society as the Cold Generation Y (Early Y Partition), The No Generation or MTV Generation [1], (also the definitive term: Thatcher's Children and Cold War Babies) which could be considered to have been between 1974 and 1985. It can also be observed that the MTV Generation is a term used in order to define those who partake in both Generation X and Y - being that today's media targets the youth of tomorrow. The worldwide acknowledgment of an MTV Generation has been proven through the success of MTV and its by-products on a global scale as well as its influence upon youth culture and society throughout the 1990s. The term defines a generation of teenagers and young adults or Twixters influenced by fashion trends, music, and slang terms shown in music videos on the newly created cable channel MTV. MTV Generation has often been associated as a neologism for Generation X.


[edit] XY Cusp

U.S. Generations
* = dates disputed, ^ = Strauss and Howe
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Term Period
^Puritan Generation
Puritan Awakening 1621–1649
^Cavalier Generation
^Glorious Generation
^Enlightenment Generation
^Awakening Generation
First Great Awakening 1727–1746
^Liberty Generation
^Republican Generation
^Compromise Generation
Second Great Awakening 1790–1844
Transcendentalist Generation
^Transcendental Generation
^Gilded Generation
^Progressive Generation
Third Great Awakening 1886–1908
^Missionary Generation
Lost Generation
Interbellum Generation
G.I. Generation
Greatest Generation
Jazz Age 1918-1929
Beat Generation
Silent Generation
Baby Boomers
Generation Jones
Consciousness Revolution 1964–1984
Generation X
^13th Generation
MTV Generation
Boomerang Generation
Culture Wars 1980s–present
Generation Y
^Millennial Generation
Echo Boom Generation
Internet Generation
^New Silent Generation
*1990s or 2000s-?

The XY Cusp includes those people born in the mid-to-late 1970s and early 1980s. The word XY is used because their generational identity is mixed, uncertain, or deviant from X or Y or both, but do not constitute a separate generational group in themselves. Some place the years between: 1976-1983 [2] [3][4] [5] and 1976-88 [6]. However, both sources agree on the mid-to-late 70s and early 80s. People born within this group are in parallel situations with people born in between previous generations: Generation Jones between Boomer and X - late 50s, early 60s, (teens of the 70s); between Silents and Boomers - late 30s, early 40s (teens of the 50s); and the Beat generation between G.I. and Silents - late 10s, early 20s (teens of the 30s). They are referred to as Cusper Groups, Transitional Times, or Buffer Zones. John Losey states "If you couldn't neatly place yourself in any of the [generations], then you're probably a Cusper. 1943-1947, 1962-1967 and 1976-1983 are each considered transition times. Many people born during these cusp periods identify with the generations on either side. Often, Cuspers feel like they belong to neither and belong to both. They are generationally bilingual. They can act as translators and ambassadors between the generations." [7] [8] [9] There is also a strong sense of disillusionment within this generation as they come into their own, especially entering the work force and studies, which is if anything a possible reiteration of the previous Lost Generation to which the MTV generation could be comparable to.

[edit] Global factors defining the MTV Generation

Most notable factors relevant to the MTV Generation is the overall nihilistic attitude of the teenagers growing up through the 1990s having been brought up in the 1980s and recently becoming adults of the 3rd millennium, as well as

[edit] Culture (political and social)

This generation was also the first to experience:

The distinct end of Generation X.

Crossover with beginning of "true" Generation Y:

[edit] Overview of the cultural impact of the media upon the MTV Generation

The teens of the MTV Generation who grew up in the 1990s have also been referred to as the Doom Generation, picked up from Gregg Araki's The Doom Generation (1995) and due to the popularity of the 1993 computer game Doom. The meaning also represents the overall feeling of the generation, having been children through most of the revolutionary changes that occurred to Generation X, not to mention living their childhood through the 1980s they had no sense of direction or sentiment of belonging, thus encapsulating an entire generation within a "doomed" atmosphere - giving the re-birth into the Goth, Gangsta Rap and Grunge music and lifestyle.

Those born before 1985 witnessed the major movie stars such as Johnny Depp get their starts on television. In Depp's case it was 21 Jump Street. Others such as Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, and The Wayans Brothers got their start on In Living Color, a series that tried to rival Saturday Night Live in the early '90s. Generation MTV fans of Saturday Night Live will also remember the careers of Adam Sandler, Janeane Garofalo, Rob Schneider, David Spade, Chris Farley, Phil Hartman, Norm Macdonald, and a whole host of others.

Those born prior to 1985 can also remember the early stages of the World Wide Web - including the first original chat applications such as ICQ and Yahoo! (one of the pioneering "dotcoms" in the 1990s) along with AltaVista being the first major search engines. Those born in the late 1970s probably did not own a computer until their preteen or teen years in the early to mid Nineties. Other aspects of the Internet which were first encountered were the first homepage web host services Angelfire, Geocities, and Tripod, as well as web groups and online communities - such as those in the Excite internet portal.

A notable quote of the Simpsons in regards to the generation that defined itself through TV and music:

[edit] Movies associated with the generation

Director Harmony Korine not only grew up in the generation but also emulates it within his movies which reflect the youth and lifestyle of the XY Generation. Other directors that were prominent icons during the generation would be Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, Richard Linklater, Wes Anderson, Danny Boyle, David Fincher, and Spike Jonze to name but a few who marked their influence upon those growing up in the XY Cusp.

Other movies to have somewhat of an impact upon the generation with lasting effect would be the successes of the Indiana Jones films, the franchises of both the Ghostbusters and the Gremlins and the Back to the Future trilogy, as well as movies such as Tim Burton's Beetlejuice and Batman, James Cameron's Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park, Interview with the Vampire and Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Actors who gained considerable prominence throughout the 80s and 90s would later become the A-list celebrities in a post-millennial Generation Y, along with others associated or part of the Brat Pack:

as well as:

who gained wider recognition from international and independent cinema.

Other actors would later gain more substantial credibility after the Millennium by leaving film to star in TV shows instead, like Shannen Doherty, who starred in Beverly Hills 90210 and later Charmed, Michael J. Fox in Spin City, Charlie Sheen replacing Michael J. Fox in Spin City, Judd Nelson from the "Breakfast Club" in "Suddenly Susan" and Kiefer Sutherland in 24.

Prominent child actors who would enjoy a successful career up until their teenage years were:

[edit] TV shows that are often associated to the generation

The following list are a sample of televised animated series and sitcoms from the early 80s to late 90s that were popular components in the development of those growing up within the XY Cusp, which would influence a later younger generation and the future current fashion in media and society.

Notable cartoons as well as programs that most of the MTV Gen youth grew up with watching:

Also check Animated television series of the 1980s for more examples.

Other shows which would be prominent favourites amongst adolescents and the young adult bracket:

TV shows which would have somewhat of an impact on the teen culture and life of the adolescents of the MTV Gen:

TV shows which had a greater impact upon the MTV Gen young adults:

Other TV shows that were a cult success with MTV Gen audiences:

[edit] Music associated with the generation

The majority of music from the MTV Generation was contributed from artists who were from Generation X, just as previous esteemed musicians of Generation X were born in the baby boomers generation. Generation XY not only shares certain views as those in Generation X, but also the same musical taste which would later cross-over into the MTV Generation due to the effects of Generation X upon the Gen X'er musicians and artists.

The music that defined the MTV Generation was mostly pop music which had emerged from New Wave and R'n'B styles, giving birth to the Boy Band phenomenon (which would later become the Girl Power or Girl Band sensation in the later generation). Another important area was the birth of Alternative Rock branching off from heavy metal musicians Guns N' Roses and alternative performers such as Nine Inch Nails & The Smashing Pumpkins with the added influence of grunge music, which at the time featured prominent artists such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam who would mark a new form of rock music for the future generation. The underground hip hop scene would also eventually develop into the gangsta rap genre which included different styles between the East Coast (The Notorious B.I.G. & Puff Daddy) and West Coast (2Pac, Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg) labels. Dance Music including House and Techno also included itself as an important factor to the development of music during this time, and it would also enter a new domain by opening up the Rave sub-culture which is considered to have truly lasted until the fall of the 1990s. Video game music also became a popular musical influence throughout the 90s with the aid of the Internet and the growth of the Geek sub-culture. [11].

Later the musical styles and interests that were passed on from Generation X, through to the MTV Generation would be abandoned for a new saccharin and cleaner-cut style of music which would be prominent upon those in Generation Y. The major contributors that would lead the way from the MTV Generation into Generation Y would be:

[edit] Influential Music of the MTV Generation

Barbara Schneider and David Stevenson, in their research of 90s teens in comparison to 50s teens, noted that "in the 1950s, tastes in music were similar; nearly half the adolescents selected rock and roll as their favorite type of music, and Pat Boone was the favorite singer, easily surpassing all others, including Elvis Presley... (In the 1990s) the types of music (teens) listen to...became so long that we quickly realized that variation was the norm. Students talked about many different types of music, including alternative, country, hard rock, hip-hop, light rock, jazz, reggae, rap, and rhythm and blues, and the list of favorite vocalists and bands numbered well over fifty, with a few overlapping choices."

Important icons of the above genres who would continue to become an influence into Generation Y and were prominent throughout the 80s and 90s (some of which are still today), especially on MTV and in popular culture.

[edit] Technology/Media experienced by the generation

This generation used or witnessed the following technology from their teenage years (born during the 70s) and preteen years (born early 80s):

The MTV Generation unlike the core Generation Y and core Generation X were caught in the middle of a surge in media and technological advances which would later prevail towards the end of the millennium for Generation Y. Partakers of this generation will recall libraries still using index cards for looking up books, how writing letters and corresponding with pen pals and mail-by-order books/comics were fashionable, as well as communication via telephone landlines, prior to the mobile phone phenomenon of the mid 90s. Also most people partaking within the MTV Generation will remember having personal computers as a child without an internet connection, along with the rise of hip hop musical styles within pop music and fall of rock and roll and metal, justified by the cancellation of Headbangers Ball in 1995.

[edit] The Doomed Generation

An overview of the crime and drug culture related to the XY Gen throughout the 1990s with added insight on the media antagonism that developed from these trends of the MTV Gen youth.

[edit] Crime in the 1990s

This generation was the subject of much concern during the 1990s, though, despite some of its positive features. The 1999 Columbine High School shooting, youth participation in street gangs, hate groups, and problems such as teen pregnancy fueled a wave of action by schools and other organizations.

[edit] An ambitious generation of drifting dreamers

Barbara Schneider and David Stevenson, in their book, The Ambitious Generation: America's Teenagers, Motivated but Directionless acknowledged that popular media had portrayed 90s teens as "slackers, drug users, and perpetrators of violent crimes." However, after conducting extensive research on the subject, and analyzing data from national longitudinal studies from the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s using the Alfred P. Sloan Study of Youth and Social Development, they discovered that media's portrayal was far from the truth. They found instead, "The overwhelming majority of (1990s) teenagers, however, graduate from highschool, do not use hard drugs, are not criminals, and do not father or have babies while still in their teens. Many of them are willing to work hard to get good grades and assume this will make them eligible for scholarships at the college they plan to attend. Most young people are worried about their futures and believe attaining a college degree is critical for finding a first real job. The bachelor's degree is seen as the necessary first step in moving up the economic and social ladder. Many consider graduate and professional degrees essential."

"Although very ambitious, many adolescents find it very difficult to fulfill their dreams. They are unaware of steps they can take that may help them achieve their ambitions. Often their ambitions are dreamlike and not realistically connected to specific educational and career paths. Regardless of how hard they try, they may find themselves "running in place and unsure where to go."" The authors described 1990s teens as "Drifting Dreamers." More importantly, they found that "large numbers of them expect to become physicians, lawyers, and business managers (white collar workers); few want to work as machinists, secretaries, or plumbers. Such high ambitions are held by teenagers from all families—rich, poor, Asian, black, Hispanic, and white. More adolescents than ever expect to graduate from college, earn graduate degrees, and work in the whitecollar world of professionals. They are America's most ambitious teenage generation ever." Hence, they coined the name "Ambitious generation."

Another important finding was the comparison of social structure between 1950s teens and 1990s teens. Teenage social groups of the 90s were in contrast to 1950s "very fluid in their membership (not permanent or definable) and, as a result, (were) often un-stable." This fluidity, in turn, "weakened their ability to sustain strong norms that can influence and direct the behavior of (teens)." In addition, he stressed that even though parents and the school helped students get good grades and stay in college, they were unsure on how to give advice in realistically planning ones career, leaving many teens to guess on what to do or to be lost in their dreams of achieving success. All of these compounded and contributed more to the XYer "Drifting Dreamer" problem. [12]

[edit] Impact of the September 11, 2001 attacks

Shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the twin towers, Newsweek performed a survey on young adults ages 18-29 (born 1972-1983) [13]. The survey was done in an effort to compare the views of the 2001 attacks with those of the Attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and with the Protests against the Vietnam War of 1966. Their findings led them to name young adults of the time "Generation 9/11" due to their civic involvement and political awareness, leading many to believe that this group of people were less like the Vietnam protesters and more like the pro-war patriotic GI Generation [14] [15]. This reasoning, however, found many critics. Thomas Reissmann stated that "the tone of the times" was such that "any criticism of the government was outright unpatriotic." Fear from hate groups or punishment directly from the government was so real that those people opposed to war silenced themselves, and any survey done during this time would have been biased towards pro-war feelings. As a result, the anti-war sentiment was still very much alive, but they went about expressing it differently than the Vietnam protesters of 1966. Instead of applying themselves towards the war, anti-war advocates chose careers or activities which "improve(d) the lives of others." [16] This does not negate the fact that other people were supportive of the war, but only proves that anti-war sentiment was also existent at the time, though not as vocal. Outside America, however, the opposition was much more visible and stronger.

Thomas Reissmann also criticized the Newsweek's use of term "Generation 9/11" because it was suspected that the term was used to support an "us" (a Pro-war Generation) versus "them" (a common enemy) mentality. Any young adult who did not believe in or forever commit to the traits of Generation 9/11 would be made to feel guilty and counterproductive towards or undermining society. [17][18]

A study was done throughout several colleges in the Midwestern United States by Patricia Somers and her research colleagues on people born from 1978 to 1987 also shortly after the attacks. The survey was conducted in order to research views of "Generation 9/11" towards the "us" versus "them" mentality, also known as Terror management theory.

The results were somewhat mixed, but showed that the mentality had not fully taken hold. Those surveyed chose to mute their expression of patriotism because they viewed the act with skepticism (as they thought it would lead to blind hate and racial discrimination). They placed importance on global awareness, community discussions of diversity, and peace marches. "Students were also more likely to be critical of government action. Perhaps some of the criticism hid fear of how young men and women might be drafted to serve in a messy and prolonged conflict in the Middle East. Yet and still, the students questioned military and political reactions following 9/11." [19]

However, despite all the research, Somers still believes that the term Generation 9/11 [20] is still a prediction at best and that only time will tell whether 9/11 has had any lasting effect on this group of people. It may not be for decades to determine whether or not they are a "civic" or "lost" group. However, Somers does predict stronger political divisions in the future based on differing opinions about the meaning of "patriotism." [21] Others believe that the effects of 9/11 would only be temporary as many were already young adults then, and that they would eventually return to their regular ways of life they were accustomed to. [22] [23] [24] [25]

[edit] Notable members of this generation

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Preceded by
Generation Jones
c. 1954 – c. 1965
MTV Generation
c. 1974 – c. 1985
Succeeded by
Echo Boom Generation
c. 1986 – c. 1993
In other languages