Around the time US snipers were taking aim from the rooftop of Falluja’s last functioning hospital, and images of their infant victims started to appear on websites, an old-fashioned student demo erupted in Sydney.
At last, I thought, the era of the zombie workaholic is over. It’s back to reality, instead of back to reality TV.
But no, these respectable ruffians in branded chinos were holed up in a vice-chancellor’s office to protest against the rising costs of education. No posters of dead Iraqi babies. The students have a point about the fees, but why can’t they get upset about other people’s problems?
I hate to break it to Richard who was, perhaps, a bit out of it at the time, but a large proportion of student protests in the 60s and 70s were about internal university issues, and a lot more were about the issue of the draft, directly relevant to those protesting against it. Quite a few of those attending probably wore Levis jeans and, some, as cool kids at high school, had probably made life a misery for those unfortunate enough to have parents who thought that King Gee was good enough. Finally, contrary to what Neville implies, there were loads of young people at the marches I attended in protest against the Iraq war.
Of course, this piece produced the appropriate response from outraged GenXers on the letters page, which only encourages hacks like Neville to reach for this piece of boilerplate next time they have nothing worthwhile to write. I’ve been bombarded with generational cliches since I was old enough to turn on a TV set. I look forward to a time when the idea that you can classify a person by the date on their birth certificate is accepted only in the astrology columns.
Update 06/05More on this from Ken Parish and I should also acknowledge Geoff Honnor who beat me to the punch on this one. Paul Watson recognises the silliness of Neville’s attempts to define Gen X on the basis of a sample apparently provided by his daughter’s affluent boyfriends, but doesn’t yet concede that it’s the whole idea of defining generations that’s absurd.
fn1. The story makes it pretty clear that Neville himself hasn’t been to an antiwar march for quite some time, and is relying on what he sees on TV.