Generation X is known mostly for invisibility, remaining primarily absent in the great generational war between Millennials and Boomers. But the slacker generation has finally found the motivation to needed to get mad at people of a different age group from them. All it took was for pseudo-intellectual stalwart The Atlantic to publish a smarmy article by David Sims attempting to claim that Millennials discovered Keanu Reeves. In the article, ostensibly meant to launch The Atlantic's new movie club with a watch along and discussion of My Own Private Idaho and headlined "Millennials Just 'Get' Keanu Reeves," Sims writes:
While Generation X mostly dismissed him as wooden and one-note, younger viewers better understood his nuances as a performer; the weird, hypnotic specificity of his line readings; and the movie-star magic inherent in parts like Neo, John Wick, and Johnny Utah. It's impossible to imagine anyone else in those roles, which is the best evidence of Reeves's singular screen presence.
Now, we know what you're thinking. Are gen-xers gonna actually click on an article and read all the way to the second-to-last paragraph to get mad online? Sh'yeah, right. And monkeys might fly out of our butt. That sounds like way too much work. And listen, we feel you. But The Atlantic, realizing that it isn't going to incite the outrage needed to drive clicks for this article during a pandemic without somehow riling the notoriously apathetic Gen-X, wisely posted the quote directly to Twitter to get the ball rolling.
"While Generation X mostly dismissed him as wooden and one-note, younger viewers better understand his nuances as a performer." @davidlsims discusses the career of Keanu Reeves for our first #AtlanticMovieClub: https://t.co/oo7uZVSjnb
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) April 25, 2020
The intended effect was instantaneous, with a generation of underachievers not about to let a Costco-brand New Yorker steal away the one thing — the one god damn thing — they can definitively claim to have achieved: making Keanu Reeves a star. The Twitter clap back was brutal, with Generation X-ers first appealing to generational solidarity with the Millenials by pointing out that it wasn't them writing movie reviews in the 1980s and 1990s, but Boomers who labeled Reeves as wooden and one-note. Many a middle-aged woman who was once an angst-filled swooning teen girl recalled the loin-stirring feeling of then-heartthrob Reeves' poster on their bedroom wall. And Generation X also relied on their trademark sarcasm. Was it Millennials who made hits out of Point Break, Speed, and The Matrix? Who doesn't love the iconic Millennial blockbuster Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure? Are Millennials so self-centered they're unable to enjoy anything at all unless they believe they discovered it out of obscurity? And finally, the Gen-X coup de grace: we hated Boomers before it was cool, poseurs.
At the end of the day, everyone came out a winner in this generational skirmish. An aging and increasingly invisible Generation X got to remember what it was like to care, a rare but satisfying feeling. The Atlantic surely got more eyeballs on its inaugural movie club article than it would have by just inviting people to watch My Own Private Idaho. We mean, come on, a gritty, modernized take on Shakespeare starring Keanu Reeves in a dramatic role? Pass. And as for millennials? Well, who cares about them, honestly. Now Generation X can go back to not giving a damn and taking quiet enjoyment in our Gen-Z kids telling Millennials "OK Boomer" on social media.