12 Movies That Define Generation X

Even though Generation X (people born between 1965 and 1980) is the middle child, or Jan Brady of generations, our cultural influence is undeniable.

Those of us born between 1965 and 1980 are outnumbered by both the previous generation of Baby Boomers and the younger generation for which Baby Boomers blame everything, Millenials. I read somewhere that a generation is a group of people with collected, shared experiences. And boy do we have them. From VCRs, the introduction to the CD-walkman, and corded house phones during a time when MTV actually played music—like full music videos—we remember. We reminisce.

And that reminiscing is, according to the Journal of Consumer Research, is one of the many reasons Gen X, though only 25% of the population, has the most spending power. Gen X founded more than 51% of startups, make up more than 30% of U.S. income even though we are only 25% of the population, and accounts for more than 50% of leadership roles globally.

Sure, we had an angsty youth, constantly being called lazy—disaffected—by our Boomer parents. But we grew from the constant put-downs into today’s leaders. But the 80s and 90s saw film being revolutionized in ways that gave our generation a voice. Whether exaggerated our culture is in these films and continue to an influential voice.

Here’s 12 movies that defined Generation X and why we appreciate them now more than ever.

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Boyz in the Hood - 1991

The late John Singleton’s autobiographical masterpiece was groundbreaking. The 80s and 90s saw African American filmmakers beginning to be heard and being allowed to tell our stories our way.

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Reality Bites - 1994

To sell out or not to sell out—that was the question this brilliant Ben Stiller film asked in the form of Leleina choosing between two very different men representing both.

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10 Things I Hate About You - 1999

Here’s the film that introduced us to Heath Ledger and making us fall in love with his serenade—swoon, amazing soundtrack, dialogue that’s just as fresh and witty today as it was 25 years ago!

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Romeo & Juliet - 1996

Modern filmography with William Shakespeare’s unchanged play created a beautiful film. Even if you couldn’t understand Shakespearean, you felt it.

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Empire Records -1995

“Damn the man! Save the Empire” was the message. Basically, fuck corporations. Fuck selling out.

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Clueless - 1995

This cinematic, modern interpretation of Jane Austen’s Emma was genius. Although many didn’t even realize it was a reimagining of Emma, Clueless still one of the most quotable films of all time.

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The Breakfast Club - 1985

“Dear Mr. Vernon…You see us as you want to see us—in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions.”

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Boomerang - 1992

Boomerang was the first African American, upscale romantic comedy, the lives of successful Black people as heads of companies, in love, in, in lust, not being drug dealers, drug addicts, prostitutes, gang members—just unapologetically Black and living their lives.

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Hackers - 1995

Cyberpunk never looked this fun (up until that point at least).They were Anonymous before Anonymous existed. Computer geeks were the cool kids.

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Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter is Dead - 1991

So many films about parents going out of town and leaving their kids make sure that the kids pretty much destroys the house or at least some property. This fun, dark comedy does the opposite.

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To Wong Fu, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar - 1995

The hilarious, real, and beautiful film that every single male director passed on was directed by an up and coming femme director of a new tv series, “Orange is Not the Only Fruit” Beeban Kidron.

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House Party - 1990

Hilarious classic party film. Black kids being allowed to be Black kids and have fun without having to the funny side kick friend to a White protagonist.

We questioned our Boomer parents’ want of us to “sell out". We fought for more minorities to be in command of telling their own stories their own way. We fought to just be able to have fun. And we did it with a dope-ass wardrobe and soundtrack. That’s what Gen X contributed, much to Boomers’ chagrin. Now, if we can stop making remakes of everything, that’d be great.

Which films have influenced you?