Generation View Of Reality

1278 Words6 Pages
Generation’s View of Reality Ben Stiller’s 1994 film, Reality Bites, portrays the broad based struggles of America’s twentysomethings through a lighthearted glimpse into the lives of the movie’s main characters. Four friends, recently graduated from college, find themselves over-educated and under-employed, a theme reiterated in the lives of many Generation Xers according to critic Marilyn Gardner. She states, “unemployment is higher for those under 25 then it is for the workforce as a whole.” (pg. 14, col. 1) Though Reality Bites bills itself as “a comedy about love in the 90's,” the film is more of a commentary on the issues facing young adults today (Kempley, Sec. C., pg 7). The central theme concerning the lives of Generation Xers is supported by three main motifs throughout the film: the love triangle between Lalaina Pierce (Winona Ryder), Michael Grates (Ben Stiller), and Troy Dire (Ethan Hawke); social issues facing the characters such as AIDS, homosexuality, and divorce; and recurring references to television, the entertainment of choice for the “MTV Generation.” The romantic relationships between Lalaina, Michael, and Troy stage the most obvious contrasts between Generation Xers and their nemesis: materialistic yuppies. The three characters form a contium between the quintessential 20ish “slacker” (Troy), the white collar, “nouveau riche” yuppie (Michael), and the quasi-slacker (Lalaina), who is somewhere in between. Troy, Lalaina’s long haired, un-shaven, grungy dressing best friend exemplifies the anti-materialistic, devil-may-care attitude of Generation X. In fact, when Vicky lets Troy move into the girls’ apartment after being fired from his twelfth job (a clerk at a news stand), Lalaina complains that the frequently boozing, cigarette-smoking, unemployed Troy will “turn this place into a den of slack.” Though Troy is arguably one of the smartest of the bunch, he didn’t have enough credits to graduate from the university. In classic slacker fashion, Troy has the intelligence but not the drive to succeed in a materialistic world. Rather, he thrives on the simplistic: “you see Lanie, this is all we need, a couple smokes, a cup of coffee, and a little conversation. You, me, and five bucks.” Conversely, Michael Grates, Lalaina’s other love interest is ... ... middle of paper ... ...uides, remote controls, VCR’s and large, comfy chairs in which to view the sets. The love triangle of Lalaina, Michael, and Troy, the age-specific problems the youths face, and the television motif all serve to make Reality Bites a Generation X film, not just as a simple romantic comedy. The dialogue between the characters and technical aspects center around the ups and downs of the friends. The love triangle is resolved in a manner that highlights the Generation X theme. In the end, Lalaina chooses Troy over Michael, the fitting end for a Generation X icon. Works Cited Gardner, Marilyn. “Generation X: The Starting Line.” The Christian Science Monitor. (March 24, 1994) pp 14. James, Caryn. “Coming of Age in Snippets: Life as a Twentysomething.” The New York Times. (February 18, 1994) sec. C, pp 3. Kempley, Rita. “Reality Bites.” The Washington Post. (July 22, 1994) sec. C, pp 7. Steinhauser, Jennifer. “Ennui Goes Better With Coke.” The New York Times. (March 6, 1994) sec. 4, pp 4. Stiller, Ben. Reality Bites. With Ethan Hawke, Winona Ryder, and Ben Stiller. MCA/Universal Studios, 1994.
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