To a thirtysomething reviewer with a pretty solid Generation-X identification and a thorough loathing of everything "Boomer," X Saves the World is a welcome reprieve from Dennis Hopper's TV ads for the Easy Rider retirement plan. Sure, the "generation" thing is tired, but whether or not we want to admit it, there's a pretty significant difference in worldview from a group of people born in one roughly 20-year block to another.
Generation X, says author Jeff Gordinier, isn't defined by strict parameters like "born from 1963 through 1980." Yes, most Xers fall into that group—but it's really about state of mind. X is a generation that came of age watching the idealistic Baby Boomers sell out in droves, the first generation to enter the workforce realizing that "paying your dues" wouldn't necessarilyget you anywhere, and that skepticism and ironic distance were necessary tools to deal with the immense loads of bullshit being force fed to us every day.
Now that X is being edged out of the spotlight by the younger, skankier Millennials, and by Baby Boomers trying to re-assert their own importance, Gordinier argues that we're in a position to really make something of ourselves. Generation X does better out of the spotlight—we're better served letting Britney or Madonna smear themselves all over the lens while we actually go and get some shit done.
X Saves the World is motivational literature for an audience that scorns motivational literature. Gordinier picks apart Baby Boomer bullshit and makes us feel good about ourselves when that isn't a feeling that comes easily. Our generation, he reminds us, brought forth Apple, Google, and Yahoo. Our musicians changed the face of rock, and our writers and filmmakers changed narrative storytelling. Our activists don't hold hands and sing songs, they're actually in the trenches working for change. Just as Tom Brokaw's books remind us how everyone born right after 1945 is a worthless piece of shit, so Gordinier focuses on how super-great Xers are. And really—if we're going to pull the world out of the crapheap that the Boomers drove us into, we're going to need a little validation.