What movies tell us about Millennials, Gen X and Boomers

I often think that what movies you watch as a teenager tells you something about what you’ll be like later. It could be that the movies reflect the culture you were living in during your formative years or it could be that movies even create the culture. Whatever the reason, it would be interesting to see what movies were popular during the teenage years of each generation, defined as:

  • Boomers (born 1946 to 1964, currently 56 to 74 years old). Current famous ones are Trump, Obama, Jeff Bezos, Tom Cruise, Madonna
  • Generation X (born 1965 to 1980, currently 40 to 50 years old). Current famous ones are Macron, Elon Musk, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Leonardo Di Caprio
  • Millennials (born 1981 to 1996, currently 24 to 39 years old). Current famous ones are AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), Mark Zuckerberg, Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver

Here are a mix of top-grossing and criticaly acclaimed movies that were released during the teenage years of each generation:

  • Boomers: Sound of Music, Lawrence of Arabia, The Graduate, 2001: Space Odyssey, Godfather, Jaws, Star Wars, Chinatown, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  • Generation X: ET, Indiana Jones, Top Gun, Jurassic Park, Toy Story, Titanic, Fatal Attraction, Goodfellas, The Matrix
  • Millennials: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Avengers, Pirates of the Caribbean, Shrek, Dark Knight, Twilight, The Departed, Avatar

So what can tell from these movies. For Boomers, the themes are anti-heroes (Godfather, Chinatown) and rebellion (Sound of Music, Star Wars). For Generation X, the themes are dysfunctional families (Fatal Attraction, Goodfellas) and interaction with new worlds (Matrix, Jurassic Park). For Millennials, the themes are more conventional good vs evil (Harry Potter, Avengers) and escapism into fantasy or sci-fi worlds (LOTR, Avatar).

This would tell us that Boomers have a rebellious streak and ambiguous relationship with morals, Gen X are accepting of different family structures and are coming to terms with a constantly changing world , while Millennials have a strong sense of morality and a desire to be unbounded by the physical realm.

That’s my take at least, what’s yours?


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