Billy Corgan on Generation X. Corgan has always been shrewd about his critics, so I also left in the part including his counterpunching description of the familiar sort of privileged authenticity-fetishists who are a menace to so many fandoms in pop culture.
Corgan: I’m surprised by the lack of provocation in the artistic class, particularly in Generation X, which was a generation that benefited – we might as well be dead. I don’t see what our impact is; we’ve let the nerds take over. TV and music is filled with a bunch of nerds running agendas that are really counter-holistic, self-referential. You know, a part of – there were different shadows to the X generation, one of which was: how do we include everybody? And somehow that’s been warped into, once again, how do we disbar those who don’t fit into our agendas. Very strange to me.
Ghomeshi: Who do you mean when you say the nerds? Because I thought to a certain extent we were the nerds.
Corgan: I thought we were the nerds, but I didn’t realize a bunch of people were gonna come around with their laptops and claim authority. Being bookish, to me, is not being a nerd. You know, I once met some guy who was running some website – it was a fan website but super-critical of the band – and I asked him what he thought of our new website, and he was like “I don’t like your use of the color red.” I mean, that’s the kinda thing I’m talking about. Usually — and I say this with humility because I’m “from there,” it’s usually middle class to upper-middle class white kids who tell the world how it should be run. And they often times don’t have a street feel because they haven’t come from people, or they can’t remember whether their ancestry was from that street, and oftentimes they turn to sources that give them the street, but they like to drop in and out…so a rap culture or edgy DJ culture because they can, you know, put on the Birkenstocks for the weekend and pretend that they’re a hippie, and they go back to their very safe existence. I didn’t come from that safe existence – I existed in it – but I didn’t come from that, so I’m very sensitive to the way particularly whites abuse kinda intellectual ideas ‘to put themselves over’ to use a wrestling term.
Ghomeshi: ..one thing I was gonna say about Generation X, though, isn’t it — and this is a trait of each generation that gets to a certain age, but — isn’t it that we’re taking over the asylum to a certain extent, and so we only have ourselves to blame? I mean, I fell that it’s Generation X now that’s in the corridors of power..increasingly overtaking the baby boomers…..we’re just taking over the power.
Corgan: I disagree with that….Generation X is an underpopulated generation. [Ghomeshi: the smallest, yeah] I think we’re 40 million versus the 80 million before and the 80 million after. I would say that the baby boomers are still running a lot of things and whatever this generation is you wanna call it now (we call them the Millennials and I have one in my band), I think they’re still – are – running the show right now. Their agendas, and the way they clash or work in some ways hand in hand are kinda running things, and Gen X has been sort of more like a sulking child in the corner.
Ghomeshi: We went from slacker to just screwed.
Corgan: I don’t think that we’re screwed. You could argue that there’s a strain of victimhood in Generation X and maybe there’s a reason for that: a lot of us were abused. We were maybe the last generation that was abused in the shadows, and maybe that had — and maybe our imprint on that has something to do with what’s happened at Penn State and now what’s happening with the BBC. You see, you know, this hidden pedophilia culture being brought to light now. Maybe Gen-Xers have something to do with that because we’re particularly very sensitive toward abuse – abuse of power particularly. But I don’t see us asserting our will in any shape or form, and in fact, as I’ve begun to assert my will as I’ve become in my estimation “a man” in my forties, I’m constantly told that I need to be quiet, and I don’t understand that. I feel I’ve earned the right to say something.