MovieChat Forums > Slacker (1990) Discussion > If This Movie Defined A Generation...

If This Movie Defined A Generation...


...why is nobody talking about it? The most recent forum post is a month old and there are only 7000 votes on IMDb. Is it the reverse of a cult movie where tons of people saw it and loved it when it came out then faded into obscurity?

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We Gen-X'ers are a small generation.

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Everybody is ashamed being part of this generation.

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Applied Science? All science is applied. Eventually.

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I don't know if it's correct to say that Slacker "defined a generation". I do think that it had a pretty strong influence over films produced in the subsequent decades. You were seeing its influence well into the 2000s, and not just in the films made by Linklater and Kevin Smith.

But it's not something like, say, 2001 or Easy Rider, baby-boomer icons which everyone from that generation knows about and praises(or reviles, depending on what they think it). It's influence has been more under the radar.

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I think the problem is in the phrasing. To say that a movie "defined a generation" suggests that the film itself had a hand in shaping the culture.

With Slacker (and admittedly I've only seen it once), I'd say it is a certain generation defined.

Watching it last night was like stepping into a timewarp. And, as much as I admire the movie, it wasn't a very pleasant experience. The endless pontificating, chasing meaning in shadows, the illusion of depth, the blurred line between muttering, shoe-gazing, time-wasting stoners and the truly mentally ill...

It's a very incisive, only slightly fantastical look at a certain time and place. I'm sure people (especially in the industry) have been influenced by it -- I forget which filmmaker wrote the chapter about it in "Epiphanies in the Dark" -- but the fact that I could go twenty-two years without seeing it suggests that it may be a bit more "under the radar", as you say, than the other examples cited.

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"Watching it last night was like stepping into a timewarp. And, as much as I admire the movie, it wasn't a very pleasant experience. The endless pontificating, chasing meaning in shadows, the illusion of depth, the blurred line between muttering, shoe-gazing, time-wasting stoners and the truly mentally ill..."

Good summation. I've only seen it once as well, shortly after it was released.

And what I think is really un-nerving about it, if not outright unpleasant, is that we don't really know what we're supposed to make of it all. I mean, it's clear that in Easy Rider, we're supposed to admire the youthful outcasts, and in Clockwork Orange, we're supposed to dislike them(at first, anyway). But with Slacker, it's like you don't hate these people, but you don't really love them either. And even in the funny parts, it's not always clear if you're supposed to be laughing at or with them.

Like you say, a timewarp, and I'd say maybe a social document(if that doesn't sound too pretentious): "This is what it was like in the late 80s/early 90s, among educated-beyond-their-station young people in a typical American artsy/college town. Take it or leave it."

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Uh...what was the question?

Schrodinger's cat walks into a bar, or doesn't.

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I don't think it shaped a generation, but I do think it did a really good job of demonstrating the zeitgeist of the Gen-x counterculture pretty well. More than a few characters in this film were just like people I knew at the time it was released, and I lived in Minneapolis, not Austin.

I think part of the reason it seems to so well exemplify the era and people is that it's pre-Internet. Nowadays so many of the kinds of cult/counterculture people and situations in this film seem to be available on the Internet, whereas previously they seemed more organic. They weren't necessarily the byproduct of mass culture -- college rock was still college radio based, not a category on streaming music apps, cool movies were something you watched at a ratty art-house movie theater not streaming on Netflix, conspiracy theories and weird ideas came from indie bookstores and fanzines. You went to a indie coffeeshop because there was no Starbucks and you actually wanted espresso, not wifi.

This may just be the same kind of gen-x pseudointellectualism of the film, but I think it's both one of the last genuine documents of a pre-Internet counterculture and really the end of a more organic counterculture that wasn't subverted by the Internet.

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Presumably because the people it defined are off doing their own thing, as opposed to navel-gazing about somebody else's work?

Don't get me wrong - I didn't like this movie AT ALL, but if it inspired Kevin Smith et al to make their own artistic imprint, then it's already served a purpose, whether it's relevant today, or not.






"Your mother puts license plates in your underwear? How do you sit?!"

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