It's not because of Wallace's or Cobain's troubled legacies. In truth, Gen X didn't really start caring about those complexities until just recently. It's because Gen X is stressed and doesn't need one more thing adding to a list of worries already making it miserable. The Pew Charitable Trusts says the leading edge of Generation X -- folks born from 1966 to 1975 -- lost about 45% of its wealth during the Great Recession. What little net worth it had plummeted from an average of $75,000 in 2007 to just $42,000 in 2010 and was further depressed by the fact that Gen X missed out on both the dot-com and housing booms.
According to a 2012 Insured Retirement Institute report, only a third of Gen Xers are "very confident" about having enough money to live comfortably during retirement. The Medicare and Social Security programs that could help will likely be cut by the time Generation X can collect.
Professor Glenn Crellin of the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington notes that, on the whole, less than 60% of Gen X owns a home -- well below the 70% to 80% rates of the three preceding generations. Their assets are only double their debts, Gallup says 53% of them hate their jobs, another 19% are actively trying to sabotage their workplace and its in a cycle of despair that's manifesting itself in ugly ways -- like Arcade Fire albums about the suburbs or mopey films like
This Is 40
They're miserable, and they don't need to be reminded of the personal failings of the artists they loved to feel like bigger losers. Letting the ponytail guys at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have Nirvana and letting NIMBY neighborhood groups gentrify over the legacy of one of the greatest rappers of their lifetime is just the path of least resistance.
Their stamp on pop culture is being wiped clean and their investment in it is being completely liquified. Gen X would love to reminisce a little more or save Cobain and Wallace's memory from the same folks who were scared of their music two decades ago, but it has a playdate at a brewpub and an impending hangover to work through. Sorry, Kurt and Biggie, but it was all a dream.
-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.
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