The movie American Graffiti tapped into a vein baby boomers didn't even know they still had. It was a longing for the simpler times that AMC and Lions Gate Entertainment's ( LGF) Mad Men wouldn't paint as far more complicated until decades later. It was Wolfman Jack on the radio, Suzanne Somers in a Ford ( F) T-Bird and an entire generation wrapped in a security blanket and tucked safely away from the draft, napalm, Agent Orange, race riots, hippies, the Black Panthers, the Weathermen, Charles Manson, grass, LSD, Woodstock, Altamont and all the rest of it. It was Hollywood and corporate America's way of saying "There, there, it's over now. We'll take it from here."
So how did Generation X get from there to here? How did a group painted as nonchalant, smarmy slackers become so willing to take any bit of industry-made memorabilia thrown its way? We could draw some clumsy parallel between the horrors of the 1960s and the 9/11 attacks, two wars, charged political climate, Occupy Wall Street protests and other happenings of the last 15 years or so, but it's just not the truth. The fact is Gen X came into itself in a hurry and, in some cases, made itself a quick pile of expendable income faster than the boomers that came before. Granted, it came during a tech bubble and housing bubble that led to disastrous financial consequences for the rest of the country in each case, but it gave them the kind of cash that's easily spent on 20th Anniversary multidisc re-releases of old Nirvana albums, $20 180-milligram vinyl re-releases of Replacements and Wu-Tang Clan records, $1,500 Ms. Pac-Man/ Galaga arcade cabinets and $18 tickets to a 3-D rendering of a foot-stomping, water rippling T-Rex scenes they've seen numerous times.