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May 28, 2014 10:55 PM   Subscribe

Since his death from cancer at age 32, comedian Bill Hicks's (very previously) legend and stature have only grown; American: The Bill Hicks Story (previously) fills in the details of a life cut tragically short, blending live footage and animation, and is narrated by the 10 people who knew Bill best. A comic's comic and unflagging critic of hypocrisy and cultural emptiness, American: The Bill Hicks Story is now streaming for free on Snag Films.
posted by Room 641-A (76 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
Only within the United States, unfortunately.
posted by dumbland at 10:57 PM on May 28


alternatly, the youtube version is blocked in the united states, but works everywhere else - so it all evens out.
posted by jaymzjulian at 11:20 PM on May 28 [5 favorites]


It's odd to observe what people are willing to excuse and ignore so long as it supports their larger world view.

Obligatory Bill Hicks.
posted by vapidave at 12:02 AM on May 29


If you don't love Bill Hicks then we can never be friends. That is all.

I remember he was playing in Belfast when I was about 20, I think, and me and my boyfriend at the time discussed going because we were crazy into him, but for various reasons decided to leave it and "see him the next time he comes". If only...
posted by billiebee at 2:09 AM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Bill Hicks, Sane Man –– from 1989 tour, full video.

Bill Hicks is a complicated figure for me. I appreciate his life and his comedy, but some of his most fervent promoters and imitators are truly loathsome. Denis Leary being the most prominent (though not as objectionable) example, who more or less cannibalized his act from Hicks. Arguably, they don't get it and Hicks would've disliked them too. (And Leary has evolved over his career from the Asshole Song, and The Ref bought him some slack, at least from me). But, still.

Apropos of recent events, the fedora brigade loves Hicks.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:12 AM on May 29 [6 favorites]


Stewart Lee on Bill Hicks

Personally I became familiar with Hicks's work well before Lee's, and I think they're both wonderful, and the fact that Hicks is dead makes me sad.
posted by flabdablet at 2:44 AM on May 29 [9 favorites]


I think that 20 somethings really need to listen to Bill Hicks and 30 somethings probably need to get over him.
posted by empath at 3:12 AM on May 29 [58 favorites]


There's a moment of Hicks on video somewhere, caught outside the back entrance of a comedy club. Somebody asks him why he'd finally given up smoking.

Hicks gives a wicked grin to camera and replies: "To see if Denis would".
posted by Paul Slade at 3:58 AM on May 29 [35 favorites]


"death from cancer"

I think you mean his escape and rebirth as Alex Jones. Just sayin'.
posted by baconaut at 4:34 AM on May 29 [6 favorites]


Hicks is definitely one of those things that I just have to accept that Metafilter loves and I just don't get.
posted by octothorpe at 4:37 AM on May 29 [11 favorites]


Is that because your third eye has not been squeegeed open?
posted by flabdablet at 4:53 AM on May 29 [7 favorites]


That Bill Hicks-is-Alex-Jones thing turns my stomach. Alex Jones is a disturbing man.
posted by trif at 5:22 AM on May 29 [6 favorites]


Bill was a friend, and I've met Alex jones. Alex is no Bill Hicks.
posted by dejah420 at 5:30 AM on May 29 [21 favorites]


It was Jesus, Bill wanted to be. He wanted to save us all. Except he was freeze-framed in the scene when Jesus went into the temple and said 'This is my father's house and you've turned it into a den of thieves.' That's what Bill always wanted to do; he wanted to be Christ at his angriest.

—Brett Butler
posted by echocollate at 5:46 AM on May 29 [24 favorites]


I think that 20 somethings really need to listen to Bill Hicks and 30 somethings probably need to get over him.

I'm over 40 (as he would be) - what should I do? Can I keep claiming him and his brilliance for our zeitgeist?
posted by vitabellosi at 5:51 AM on May 29 [7 favorites]


I think that 20 somethings really need to listen to Bill Hicks and 30 somethings probably need to get over him.

I didn't understand this either.
posted by GrapeApiary at 6:03 AM on May 29 [1 favorite]


The good thing about Hicks is that he died.

Not that he died in and of itself -- we lost a good one that day. But that he let loose what he did and then he was gone, and he didn't get a chance to mellow and suck. He didn't end up as the lead in a family-friendly PG movie about an angry man who travels with his family and learns a valuable life lesson, he didn't get an ABC sitcom, he didn't watch 9/11 and turn into a conservative lickspittle, he didn't take a gig as the Wacky Neighbor in some Adam Sandler film, he didn't have a special on Showtime full of jokes about How Being A Dad Is Tough Because Kids Do Bizarre Things Am I Right?

Nope. He screamed, shat, smoked, blew his wad and howled in anguish, and then he was gone. A high-powered prototype never considered for mass production.
posted by delfin at 6:07 AM on May 29 [21 favorites]


he didn't get a chance to mellow and suck. He didn't end up as the lead in a family-friendly PG movie about an angry man who travels with his family and learns a valuable life lesson, he didn't get an ABC sitcom, he didn't watch 9/11 and turn into a conservative lickspittle, he didn't take a gig as the Wacky Neighbor in some Adam Sandler film, he didn't have a special on Showtime full of jokes about How Being A Dad Is Tough Because Kids Do Bizarre Things Am I Right?
He also didn't get the chance to get help with his serious issues with women and misogyny. He didn't get a chance to grow up and became something greater.
posted by fullerine at 6:14 AM on May 29 [20 favorites]


"If you don't love Bill Hicks then we can never be friends. That is all."

Whew!

I didn't learn about Hicks until shortly after he died, probably like most people. I listened the hell out of his posthumous albums in 1997-1998.

Stand-up comedy is, for me, like how I feel about boxing. I cared about it when I was growing up because there were giants walking the earth in those days, but no longer. I was hardly into adulthood before stand-up fell almost completely off my radar because it was mostly crap. One of my close friends in high school practically idolized Gallagher. Fucking Gallagher.

So I'd not cared about stand-up since the 80s. If I had, maybe I'd have known about Hicks. But I didn't know, and it was only in 1997 when everyone started talking about him that he came to my attention.

He came from the wasteland of Reagan's 80s, just like so much great stuff came surging angrily out of the underground during the most morally and culturally bankrupt decade of the twentieth century (anglo-american section). And his comedy was like lightning. No, check that — it was like being beaten awake.

And so for me, in 1997, years overdue, numerous things were put right in the universe when I first listened to Bill Hicks. He'd already passed, but he'd been there, and he'd said things that needed to be said. Turned out, stand-up comedy hadn't died in a shower of sticky watermelon, it was fucking still out there drawing blood with a razor-sharp edge and driving people to their knees with a solid punch to the gut, as it fucking should do. Thank god for Bill Hicks.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:15 AM on May 29 [17 favorites]


Regarding Denis Leary, the old joke says it all:

Q: Why is Denis Leary a star while Bill Hicks dies in obscurity?

A: Because there's No Cure for Cancer.
posted by dr_dank at 6:55 AM on May 29 [9 favorites]


It's nice seeing that doc if you're a fan (and why wouldn't you be) as it's great to hear more about Bill. That said, it's a fairly fawning and clumsy work that finds a bunch of mundane things a-maz-ing and doesn't let Bill speak enough for himself, IMO.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:06 AM on May 29 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: like being beaten awake
posted by echocollate at 7:26 AM on May 29 [1 favorite]


As expected, the same tired criticisms of Hicks emerge, the moment a thread about him appears.

Only an idiot would argue he was some perfect kind of human being, and thus far I've yet to see anyone do this.

He had issues with women, and spent a lot of his life angry at a lot of things. Pointing this out is not some mind-blowing truth — any listener with a shred of awareness would notice this.

Speaking only for myself, I still listen to his old material — skipping the crap like Goat Boy, and "Chicks Dig Jerks" — and enjoy it.

Can you chronic Hicks detractors, I don't know, maybe just spare us the thread shitting this once?

He was entertaining to a lot of us, and he's dead now — he's not going to hear your barbs, nor will they have any affect on the material he left behind. We've had enough threads that your disparaging comments are almost assuredly on record, multiple times.

/end rant
posted by Dark Messiah at 7:27 AM on May 29 [7 favorites]


Did I miss something? Which criticism? Everyone here seems quite pleasant... melancholy, perhaps?
posted by trif at 7:35 AM on May 29 [1 favorite]


I like Hicks but I hate thread monitoring. All viewpoints are welcome.
posted by rocket88 at 7:39 AM on May 29 [8 favorites]


I can't function now because all I can do is walk around saying "Chronic Hicks Detractorrrs!" in a faux metal voice.
posted by cashman at 7:40 AM on May 29 [14 favorites]


See you all at the meeting at the docks tonight.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:43 AM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Bill was a friend

Tell me more...
posted by evil otto at 7:49 AM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Somewhere in a box, I have tape of Bill and Kevin making their really insane kung fu movie...and the ensuing movie. Bill did all sorts of crazy non-Hicksian stuff. And don't get me wrong, I loved Bill. Bill made me laugh. For as long as I live, whenever I pass a field of Texas wildflowers; I'll remember summer days spent lying in clover and wildflowers, listening to the trains, watching the sky kaleidoscope, and laughing my fucking ass off while Bill went off on one thing or another. I watched him explain philosophy to a cow once. I'm pretty sure the cow understood. I have never laughed so hard in my life.

Bill, bless his heart, Bill was a dick to a lot of people. He wasn't personally misogynistic, i.e., he treated the women in his reality well and believed in equality and all that, but parts of his act were viciously anti-woman. I was uncomfortable, even then, with a lot of his act. His public persona was that of a misanthrope, and I'm not too sure that it was too far from the truth. Either he liked you or he didn't, and if he didn't, he wasn't going to bother being polite. And he didn't like most people.

It's important to remember that Bill Hicks was competing in a comedy universe filled with CarrotTop and Galagher. He was my generation's Lenny Bruce...well, he and Sam Kenison are probably still arguing about who gets that top billing, but the point is, that Bill was radical for his time. This was an era when there was no real internet yet, at least not beyond the geek diaspora, cable tv was still a luxury for a lot of people, and network censors were hardcore about all sorts of things they wouldn't let on the air.

Ideas like what Bill and Sam were saying were revolutionary to people reeling in shock from the Reagan/Bush economic and social disasters. They focused the anger that we all felt. They spoke to how utterly and absolutely fucked we felt by a system we couldn't control. And they, correctly as it turned out, predicted the rise of the Christian Right, the Neocons, and the Corporation as Person. They spoke of the coming tsunami that would destroy everything but the voracious sucking maw of buy-more ideology.

And they were funny as hell, except when they weren't. Are they still relevant? I don't know. I can't listen to the CDs, or watch the videos any more. It was a lifetime ago, and the person I am now can't hear the material the same way I heard it when it was new. So, I leave my memories of it intact, sealed in the box with the reels, and the notes and the cassettes of a group of people doing nothing but laughing and trying to breathe long enough to say something. I haven't seen the movie in the FPP, and I'm not sure I will, I'm afraid it will remove my rose colored glasses.

TLDR: He was a good man. The cows still speak fondly of him.
posted by dejah420 at 7:51 AM on May 29 [180 favorites]


He also didn't get the chance to get help with his serious issues with women and misogyny. He didn't get a chance to grow up and became something greater.

I remember a comedian who specialized in sexist, misogynist humor -- one of Hicks's compatriots, in fact. He was both successful and funny doing what he did.

Then he 'grew up.' He sanitized his humor for mass consumption, he hacked it down into a family-oriented sitcom, he started getting lead roles in movies, and he settled into a creative ghetto for the next twenty years in which the only things he's done that are worth a squirt of owl urine are one parody movie and voiceover work.

Better to be in the ground, undiluted and unrepentant than to become Tim Allen.
posted by delfin at 8:11 AM on May 29 [4 favorites]


Can you chronic Hicks detractors, I don't know, maybe just spare us the thread shitting this once?

I sincerely hope that "thread shitting" doesn't mean "less than totally-uncritical acceptance of the Hicks personality cult". Which, unfortunately, still seems to be in operation.

Look, when I first got access to Hicks' video back catalog, courtesy of Black Lodge Video in Memphis (which, amazingly, still seems to be in operation), I watched about every video of him that they had, which was about every one that was available then, and I found a lot to admire. I also saw some things which were problematic, some of which have been mentioned in this thread already, and none of which I particularly feel like rehashing, but they do come to mind when Hicks gets brought up yet again as this semi-mythical avatar of comedy before which none may compare.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:01 AM on May 29 [12 favorites]


Better to be in the ground, undiluted and unrepentant than to become Tim Allen.

Is it, though?

Better for us, maybe, not better for Bill.
posted by trif at 9:02 AM on May 29 [5 favorites]


> "...That said, it's a fairly fawning and clumsy work that finds a bunch of mundane things a-maz-ing and doesn't let Bill speak enough for himself, IMO."

I could not agree more. I like Hicks and as an avid doc watcher, was looking forward to watching this, but it was really quite terribly produced. Clumsy is an excellent descriptor. It had a feeling of being haphazardly thrown together.
posted by Falwless at 9:02 AM on May 29 [2 favorites]


dejah420, that was very eloquent. Thanks for writing it.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:04 AM on May 29 [2 favorites]


It was a bit clumsy, And it seemed to want to avoid showing the faces of the voices until almost near the end and then hey presto.

I still enjoyed it; the input of people who knew him was welcome, and the images from through his life were interesting.
posted by trif at 9:05 AM on May 29


Bill Hicks invoked "So and so so should die!" too much. George Michael needed to die for being a woman who drinks diet coke. Debbie Gibson needed to die because fame bad. Marketers? Kill yourself. But if only John Lennon was alive, then he'd be less hateful right... He was complicated and when people criticize him, you're right, nobody is saying he's perfect. Welcome to criticism
posted by aydeejones at 9:33 AM on May 29 [4 favorites]


We've had enough threads that your disparaging comments are almost assuredly on record, multiple times.

I think you mean "Nix Hicks flix tics dicks."
posted by octobersurprise at 9:39 AM on May 29 [2 favorites]


Nearly all of the material I hear rebroadcast anymore from him is the worst of him, so it's a shame that it gets emphasized but pop culture remembers him as an angry white snob schlub paradox, not a complex philosophical character. I suppose he can be invoked by the new generation as a defense against modern day *entertainers* who get roundly criticized for being imperfect on social issues despite having having some engaging appeal, perhaps even with specific social issues the entertainer promotes. Bill Hicks and Bill Maher are more similar than Hicks fans might admit, Maher just saves his PLUR material for his bong sessions.
posted by aydeejones at 9:40 AM on May 29


As expected, the same tired criticisms of Hicks emerge, the moment a thread about him appears.

Maybe some got deleted before your comment, as I just saw the one mention of misogyny which was a huge issue for him, and nobody is saying he's perfect, that's your straw teddy bear.

I can't remember I posted my own rant last night or it was nuked, but you seemed to be very sensitively reacting like you can't bear to hear it, and sorry, but you don't get to live in a world full of things that are agreeable only to you.

Bill Hicks was a huge critic of all things and it serves his legacy and everyone to criticize him the same. I need to listen to his whole oevre because honestly every time I try I get a bad taste in my mouth and give up too easily, and yes, he was "before his time" and criticizing him based on 80's standards is more about critcizing the 80's, which was his bread and butter, so we're all on the same page and it's cool. Nobody is spitting on his grave or glad that he's dead (other than the guy who thinks growing up and having kids is death up above and is glad Bill died too early to grow further).

If he were alive today he might tell you to embrace the uncomfortable and let his words stand on their own, because your "only an idiot" line just reinforces a certain frustrated EVERYONE IS A DUMB FLEA ME AGAINST THE WORLD mentality that too often passes for meaningful commentary instead of hatred of humanity over specific slights real and imagined.
posted by aydeejones at 9:56 AM on May 29 [11 favorites]


^This.^

I quite like Bill Hicks, but absolving him of some of his more problematic aspects and granting him weird "Thou shalt not sully His name" status is very uncomfortable.

He was human. He wasn't perfect. Like all of us.
posted by Kitteh at 9:59 AM on May 29 [5 favorites]




I didn't care for Bill Hicks in the one or two clips I've seen of him. Perhaps I just haven't given him enough of a chance. Can someone share something that might change my opinion? I will try to keep an open mind. Thanks.
posted by Daddy-O at 11:07 AM on May 29


Hicks was a decent enough comedian who just hit the zeitgeist right in the post-Cold War late eighties/early nineties, one of those periods where America was once again searching for Meaning, coming around just as the boomers let go of some of their iron grip on American culture. Hicks stood sort of inbetween boomers and gen x and therefore was perfectly suited for that time.

But the best thing he ever did for his reputation was his death.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:17 AM on May 29


I didn't care for Bill Hicks in the one or two clips I've seen of him... Can someone share something that might change my opinion?

News is supposed to be objective, isn't it?
posted by flabdablet at 11:18 AM on May 29 [4 favorites]


I listened the hell out of his posthumous albums in 1997-1998.

This, exactly this. I'd never heard of him until I moved to Austin in '96, and then learned of him through clips and bits on Austin radio. One of the first things I did after I got settled was to save up, go down to Waterloo Records, and spend $50 (which was a lot of money for me at the time) on every Bill Hicks CD they had in stock.
posted by mrbill at 11:22 AM on May 29


Can someone share something that might change my opinion?

Try this one.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:25 AM on May 29 [3 favorites]


"Hicks stood sort of inbetween boomers and gen x and therefore was perfectly suited for that time."

I think you're very much onto something there, but not exactly in the way you think.

Hicks was just three years older than me and those of us born in the first half of the sixties are variously classed as last of the boomers or first of the gen-xers. So you're totally correct about this in terms of the particular generation for whom he was most resonant.

But not that whole generation or even a big part of it. Only a tiny part, actually.

Because, sadly, my generation are more conservative and consumerist than the fucking boomers are. We came of age during Reagan. The pre-post-Cold War meaning my cohort found was to idolize Ollie North. Only a minority of us saw 80s America for what it was — Hicks was one of this minority and he spoke for us.

The rest? The rest were fucking young Gordon Gekkos or preppy frat boy rapists or purulent Ann Coulters and they form the faithful core of Fox News today. Fuck my generation: 80% of us should have died in alcohol-and-cocaine fueled collisions between Datsun 280Zs and Porsche 944s while listening to Robert Palmer and Joe Satriani.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:49 AM on May 29 [15 favorites]


flabdalblet's clip made me like Bill Hicks a lot more, but octobersurprise's clip almost took me right back where I was before today.
posted by Daddy-O at 12:10 PM on May 29 [2 favorites]


Goddamnit, Ivan, I'm now listening to Cracker by choice for the first time since 1996 and it is entirely your fault.
posted by Ryvar at 12:25 PM on May 29 [3 favorites]


Because, sadly, my generation are more conservative and consumerist than the fucking boomers are. We came of age during Reagan. The pre-post-Cold War meaning my cohort found was to idolize Ollie North. Only a minority of us saw 80s America for what it was — Hicks was one of this minority and he spoke for us.

Fuck my generation: 80% of us should have died in alcohol-and-cocaine fueled collisions between Datsun 280Zs and Porsche 944s while listening to Robert Palmer and Joe Satriani.


That's an awfully broad brush you've got there.

I was born in 1965 and my generation worked hard for civil rights, human rights, women's rights, animal rights, LGBT rights, environmental preservation and environmental justice, nuclear disarmament, HIV/AIDS awareness and HIV/AIDS prevention and dismantling apartheid in South Africa on and on and on.

The rest? The rest were fucking young Gordon Gekkos or preppy frat boy rapists or purulent Ann Coulters and they form the faithful core of Fox News today

The average age of a Fox News viewer is 68.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:33 PM on May 29 [4 favorites]


80% of us should have died in alcohol-and-cocaine fueled collisions between Datsun 280Zs and Porsche 944s while listening to Robert Palmer and Joe Satriani.

You're cross with God who didn't wreck your generation?

Anyway, Ivan, I'm about your age, I grew up in the fucking American south, and even I recall an 80's which consisted of slightly more shades of color than the white of Hicks idolizers and the black of Ollie North idolizers. My own take on Hicks has always been "funnier than Dice Clay, Bobcat Goldthwait, and Sam Kinison; not as funny as Murphy, Kaufman, or Steven Wright."
posted by octobersurprise at 12:37 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Ok, Hicks was funnier than Emo Phillips, too. And much funnier than Carrot Top. But not as funny as Judy Tenuta.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:47 PM on May 29 [6 favorites]


flabdalblet's clip made me like Bill Hicks a lot more, but octobersurprise's clip almost took me right back where I was before today.

Try an unbastardized version.
posted by flabdablet at 1:03 PM on May 29 [2 favorites]




Bill Hicks on US foreign policy: "Pick up the gun."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:11 PM on May 29 [5 favorites]


Ideas like what Bill and Sam were saying were revolutionary to people reeling in shock from the Reagan/Bush economic and social disasters. They focused the anger that we all felt.

You know I love you dejah, but I've always felt, at least in their standup personas, that Hicks was 'fury because LOVE' and Kinison was 'fury because FUCK YOU' and I've always felt much more affinity towards Bill than Sam, or at least affinity towards his comedy, because of it. It's the same way I have always loved the mid-to-late era Carlin as well -- he was fucking furious (and hilarious), but the anger, to me at least, almost always seemed to come from an impulse towards the good and much resentment and disappointment that the world just didn't seem to share it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:45 PM on May 29 [11 favorites]


Fuck my generation

Well, fuck every generation, pretty much, if we're going that way. Each succeeding one may not be getting worse, but I don't think they're getting much better either, and mythologizing the valor of preceding ones is a fool's game. Some people are great, some are good, an arguably large chunk are just pure shithouse, but the lion's share just are.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:51 PM on May 29 [7 favorites]


I've seen that particular documentary. My younger brother brought it home to watch. Perhaps not coincidentally he is the brother who believed all kinds of 9-11 conspiracy theories and Alex Jones type crap (if he only knew about that conspiracy theory).

I'm not sure if it's just not a great presentation of Hicks, but that documentary makes him seem kind of terrible. Nothing he says is very funny or thought-provoking, much less on a level I might call genius. I remember specifically the drugs bit linked above and thinking that he had the start of a good joke but hadn't really polished it and made it into something actually funny. Also, the thing where he gets faux-assassinated on stage strikes me as the worst kind of self-important full-of-shittery.
posted by runcibleshaw at 9:59 PM on May 29


"I was born in 1965 and my generation worked hard for civil rights, human rights, women's rights, animal rights, LGBT rights, environmental preservation and environmental justice, nuclear disarmament, HIV/AIDS awareness and HIV/AIDS prevention and dismantling apartheid in South Africa on and on and on."

No, that wasn't our generation. That was a minority of our generation. The majority of our generation opposed those things.

Take a look at these charts, from a Pew report on generational voting patterns, of American voting results in national elections by broad cohort.

As you can see, the most consistently and extremely conservative voters, roughly assumed as the correlation to the GOP election advantage, are those who came of age during the Reagan/Bush era, which are those born between 1963 and 1975. Next most conservative are those from the Ford/Carter era, those born between 1957 and 1961. The Nixon cohort, those born from 1951 and 1956, are the most reliably liberal of the boomers (and no surprise). The Kennedy/Johnson boomers are only moderately conservative compared to the 1957-1975 groups.

You don't see a strong favor to the Democratic candidate until the cohort who came of age under Clinton, and this continues for those who came of age under Bush.

I don't see any reason to defend my generation from this criticism any more than I see reason to defend men, or Americans, or white people from criticism, just because I happen to belong to these groups. If you are feeling defensive about it, then maybe you ought to stop and consider whether this makes any sense.

"Well, fuck every generation, pretty much, if we're going that way."

All people, all the time, in all places, are not pretty much all the same. We're born that way, sure. But different times and places have different cultural values, and sometimes those values are abhorrent and sometimes those values are inspiring. The dominant values of the 80s were among the worst of twentieth century North America, they represented a conservative backlash.

In the US, Reagan's election was the culmination of what Goldwater had begun and the vast majority of the young people who came of age during that period supported this backlash.

Everything from civil rights to second-wave feminism to environmentalism to the beginning of gay rights activism — pretty much everything that Room 641-A listed and more — was begun and championed by the people who came before us, those who came of age during the sixties and early seventies. Our generation had little to do with this. In the US, our generation enthusiastically voted for Reagan against Mondale (the 18-24 cohort favored Reagan more strongly than did the general population), and it repeated this preference for the GOP in 1988. During the 60s and the 70s and the 90s and 00s, young voters favored the Democratic Party candidates. Only during the 80s did young voters favor the GOP.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:58 AM on May 30 [6 favorites]


As you can see, the most consistently and extremely conservative voters, roughly assumed as the correlation to the GOP election advantage, are those who came of age during the Reagan/Bush era, which are those born between 1963 and 1975. Next most conservative are those from the Ford/Carter era, those born between 1957 and 1961.

Fucking hell. I was born in '62. So not only do I still not know whether I'm a late boomer or an early X'er, I now can't even work out whether I'm a despicable Reagan/Bush conservative or a despicable Ford/Carter conservative. But I did, you know, leave the house and run back toward the high school to catch students still walking up the hill in order to spread the horrible unbelievable news about Gough's dismissal when I heard about it on ABC radio after arriving home one fine afternoon in 1975.

1962 progressives, represent!
posted by flabdablet at 6:43 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


No, that wasn't our generation. That was a minority of our generation. The majority of our generation opposed those things.

Everything from civil rights to second-wave feminism to environmentalism to the beginning of gay rights activism — pretty much everything that Room 641-A listed and more — was begun and championed by the people who came before us, those who came of age during the sixties and early seventies


Just like those that came of age before them fought the battles, and the generations before them. It's always a minority of the people until it's the majority. So yes, our generation is working on all those things, against the majority, just like past generations.

You don't see a strong favor to the Democratic candidate until the cohort who came of age under Clinton

You seem to be willing to write off our generation just because of kids that were barely of age to vote at the time? Time didn't stand still; we are the same people that helped elect the first African-American president, may very well likely vote in the first woman president, and will help usher in the era when SSM is the law across the land. Those are all things that a majority of the country is in favor of. We are a big part of that majority now.

I think we are just going to have to agree to disagree on this one.

Oh, and I will repeat what I said earlier:

The rest? The rest were fucking young Gordon Gekkos or preppy frat boy rapists or purulent Ann Coulters and they form the faithful core of Fox News today

The average age of a Fox News viewer is 68. That's not even close.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:21 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


If you are feeling defensive about it, then maybe you ought to stop and consider whether this makes any sense.

Yes, because no one's ever going to feel defensive when someone tells them they should be dead.

And I don't even disagree with the broad strokes of your indictment: the Age of Reagan did usher in a conservative backlash; there was a lot of wealth-worshipping in the 80s; Gen X did tend to be either politically disengaged or more reliably Republican-voting than average. None of that is news. But none of it supports your claim that only you and a tiny Hicks-led minority "saw 80s America for what it was." (In fact, I think it's worth wondering just how many of those young Hicks fans voted for Reagan in '84, if they voted at all. PJ O'Rourke wasn't the only "hip" Republican.)

Nor do your stats support your assertion that "the rest were fucking young Gordon Gekkos or preppy frat boy rapists or purulent Ann Coulters ..." They only show that Gen X has, according to your source, "voted somewhat more Republican than the average." And look: even though Xers have reliably voted Republican more than the national average, there's only been 4 elections in the last 20 years where Xers voted Republican by more than 5 points above the national average. And in '94, a blowout election for the Republicans, Xers actually voted more Democratic than the national average by 7 points. Now given that data, given Xers characteristic disengagement from politics, and given that despite voting patterns, Xers are still pretty liberal on social issues, I suspect that graph is skewed, at least slightly, Republican-wards. But even if it isn't it's still a far cry from proving that Gen Xers are all rapists and Ann Coulters (excepting of course, you and the Hicks-led minority) who should have died in alcohol-and-cocaine fueled collisions.

More on topic, it's this kind of WAKE UP SHEEPLE! from a stand-up comic and from his fans who just bought a fucking record that's always put me off Hicks. Still, he was funnier than Bobcat Goldthwaite, tho, so he's got that going for him.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:35 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


If you are feeling defensive about it, then maybe you ought to stop and consider whether this makes any sense.

Wait, I missed this! Was this directed towards me?! Because disagreeing with you and taking time to explain my point of view isn't being defensive any more than your response to me is. It's called engaging in discussion.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:51 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Re: why Gen X is the way it is, as someone born in 1969 I find 13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail? to be one of the better analyses that resonates w my lived experience.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 2:42 PM on May 30 [5 favorites]


All people, all the time, in all places, are not pretty much all the same.

Can't say I agree with you entirely there, but it's probably a matter of definition of terms.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:10 PM on May 30


Jesus, is he still dead? Hardcore.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:13 PM on May 30 [4 favorites]


I remember voting for Reagan in 1980. It was my first time voting at 18 years old. I distinctly remember being very happy that we finally had a president or candidate who could (a) communicate (b) seemed to have a plan to fix things (c) thought the government was too big and (d) seemed to have the Iranians on the ropes about the hostages. Carter was a completely neutral president to me and still seems to be something of a blank, and seemed to me at the time to have presided over some of the worst economic conditions we'd seen in a very long time and hadn't done a goddamn thing about it. And after watching all the SNL parodies of Ford falling on his ass, Jimmy's peanut farmer charm (including brother "Billy-Beer") and all that, I was damn happy to see someone who at least knew how to wear a suit.

That was the perspective of an 18 year old naive pup. Four years later, I was in the Navy, and again voted for Reagan (against some of my principles) because he was my boss and wanted a 600 ship navy, which was cool (we had cool ships then), and because the military is one big conservative bubble to begin with. I had no other context.

As time progressed, I grew more aware, and with the advent of the AIDS crisis and Reagan's abominable behavior regarding it, became much more socially liberal. It's only in the last ten or fifteen years that I became more fiscally liberal - I now believe in a safety net for health care and in the need for welfare programs that protect the underprivileged.

So I wonder and maybe some can answer here: Who else among us "Xers" has had this change of mindset over time? Do voting patterns show that we have consistently and always voted conservatively?
posted by disclaimer at 5:03 PM on May 31


Personally, I went from a deep dislike for and distrust of Reagan and Thatcher and everything they represented at the beginning of the 1980s to a life-altering visceral fury and loathing by the end, so my arc was not dissimilar, just shifted a bit along the spectrum.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:40 PM on May 31 [5 favorites]


Ok, Hicks was funnier than Emo Phillips, too.

I will fight you.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:33 AM on June 1 [3 favorites]


Fuck my generation: 80% of us should have died in alcohol-and-cocaine fueled collisions between Datsun 280Zs and Porsche 944s while listening to Robert Palmer and Joe Satriani.

Robert Palmer's first album wasn't terrible.
posted by evil otto at 7:40 PM on June 2


My own take on Hicks has always been "funnier than... Bobcat Goldthwait"

I don't care if humor is subjective: there is something terribly wrong with that statement.
posted by item at 6:15 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


I don't care if humor is subjective: there is something terribly wrong with that statement.

In the...late 80s? we used to go see him at this little club called Igby's in West L.A. all the time. It seems like he used to do shows at least once a month, and even though the set was usually the same we couldn't get enough. I always hated when people just knew him as "that guy who screams" because his material was so damn smart. (I'm not saying that's you, octobersurprise, I mean the public in general.)
posted by Room 641-A at 6:49 AM on June 4


Judy Tenuta > Emo >= Stephen Wright >= Bobcat Goldthwaite > Hicks > Kinison > _________ > Carrot Top. Pigs.
posted by Cookiebastard at 6:50 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]


That's harsh on Pigs.
posted by fullerine at 2:12 PM on June 5


And (although I know comedy is subjective etc etc) surprisingly enthusiastic about Judy Tenuta.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:57 PM on June 5


I find Bill to be at his most accessible (although if you don't remember the early 90s a lot of the material won't hit home) on his Salvation album, where he's in front of a crowd of mostly Oxford students.
posted by sudasana at 6:31 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


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