2 lost icons: For Generation X, a really bad day A record-shattering vinyl album and its moonwalking maestro. A paper poster of a golden-haired beauty in a one-piece swimsuit that was gossamer and clingy in all the right places. It all seems so quaint now, the fragmented dream memories of a fleeting micro-era that began with words like "bicentennial" and "pet rock" and ended with MTV, Atari and absurdly thin cans of super-hold mousse.
The man-child named Michael Jackson and the luminous girl known as Farrah Fawcett-Majors jumped into our consciousness at a plastic moment in American culture — a time when the celebrity juggernaut we know today was still in diapers. When they departed Thursday, just a few hours and a few miles apart, they left an entire generation — a very strange generation indeed — without two of its defining figures. "These people were on our lunchboxes," said Gary Giovannetti, 38, a manager at HBO who grew up on Long Island awash in Farrah and MJ iconography. "This," he said, "is the moment when Generation X realizes they're grown up."
It was a long time coming. Cynical, disaffected, rife with ADD, lost between Boomers and millennials and sandwiched between Vietnam and the war on terror, Gen X has always been an oddity. It was the product of a transitional age when we were still putting people on celebrity pedestals but only starting to make an industry out of dragging them down. Its memorable moments were diffuse and confusing — the Ronald Reagan assassination attempt, the dawn of AIDS, the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger. It had no protest movement, no opponent to unite it, none of the things that typically shape the ill-defined beast we call an American generation.