Generation View Of Reality Essay

1285 Words 6 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
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Michael is a producer for In Your Face Television, a spoof on MTV, the

channel of choice for our generation. Though Michael is young enough to be included in

Generation X, his ideals revolve around possessions as a measure of success, something no

authentic member of Generation X would tolerate.

Somewhere in the middle is Lalaina, a strange mixture of the two. She is the

valedictorian of her graduating class and is briefly employed by a television talk show as an

intern-like production assistant until she is fired. In her valedictory address, she condemns the

BMW driving older generation of her parents who have left a lack of employment and natural

resources for her and her peers. Ironically, her graduation gift from her father is a used

BMW, which she concedes to drive until she can afford an inexpensive car of her own. Lalaina’s

unemployment leads her to look for jobs where she is inexperienced (working as a news

journalist) to over-qualified (flipping burgers at Burgerama), none of which are fruitful. Lalaina

then becomes a slacker herself by eating chips and chain smoking in her pajamas for hours a day.

The social issues facing the characters in the film are what differentiates Reality Bites

from other so-called generational flicks such as Rebel Without a Cause, The Graduate, and The

Big Chill. In one of the opening montages, Vicky (Jeanne Garafalo) is shown
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