Back to the Present
Goddammit. Boomers and GenXers are horrified to discover that not only do we have to live through the inflation of the 1970s again, we’re back to worrying about nuclear war with Russia. My entire childhood consisted of this sort of background threat that he world could end any day and at any time, which was expressed in popular culture at the time — most notably the iconic ’80s films War Games starring Matthew Broderick and Alley Sheedy, and Red Dawn, which was chock-full of young Eighties stars like Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson and Jennifer Grey.
Weirdly, the almost equally infamous television miniseries The Day After was filmed in my little Midwestern hometown. The miniseries attempted to show with frightening reality what American life would be like the day after being nuked by Russia. They transformed our cute downtown into a ruin of ash and rubble, and there were triage scenes filmed in the gym of our local college. The old townies still talk about it, because many of them were extras.
And then there are the millennials who have yet to catch one motherfucking break during their lifetimes. As a GenXer, I feel for you. Seriously. Love my millennials. Millennials, by and large, cannot afford to have children and if they do have children, that means they aren’t able to save for retirement. Still, I love how Millennials are able to find joy in what they have, because that’s all you can do.
Believe it or not, though, inflation in the 1970s was actually higher than it is now, and people were even more desperate, because unlike now, jobs were hard to come by.
Though things seem unbelievably bleak right now, my GenXer friends and I keep reminding each other things were actually worse under Ronald Reagan than they are now, though we didn’t understand that at the time. Besides the specter of the threat of nuclear war, the country was just pulling out of one of the worst recessions since the Depression and Regan was the poster boy for evangelical politics. When gay men started dying all over the country from a mysterious new…