Generation X is dead — as a subject, that is. The people who purportedly constitute it are still around. They’re young and all that; they’ve got their whole lives ahead of them, God bless ‘em and good luck. But enough already. All the books, articles, dissertations, satires, and wisecracks intended to illuminate what this mass of post-boomers actually represents are old news — and they haven’t added up to a whole lot.
If the sociology that is meant to explain Generation X has been lame, then the entertainment that’s being aggressively marketed to that generation is lamer still. Take, for example, the awful 1994 X-oriented movie Reality Bites, with its user-friendly ensemble of flip cultural stereotypes — one’s a slacker, one’s a player, one’s a trollop, and they all know the words to the Brady Bunch theme song. Unfortunately, Reality’s poor performance at the box office hasn’t stopped other distributors from trying to cash in on the X factor with such twentysomething releases (all recently out on video) as Don’t Do It!, S.F.W., Clerks, and Floundering.
Don’t Do It! flops around like a gasping goldfish. Basically a lousy Generation X variation on the he-loves-her-but-she-loves-the-other-guy-who-loves-another girl motif employed in the classic 1903 play La Ronde, Don’t presents three interconnected couples and assigns each of the six lovers their taste-tested, up-to-the-minute problems: One’s pregnant, another might be HIV-positive, and so on. Writer-director Eugene Hess then sprinkles on the piercing dialogue: ”You want to know the truth? The truth is I don’t trust anybody…. I’m afraid of love or something.” (Whoa.) In its inept way, though, Don’t Do It! communicates a universal truth: Generations may come and go, but clichés are forever. D-