Underachievers: Nirvana, Green Day, and Generation-X

Toward the end of 1990, you couldn’t get away from Simpsons merchandise- from posters, to pajama sets, to pencil toppers- mostly featuring Generation-X’s very first mainstream media icon, Bart Simpson. You see, before “The Simpsons” became obsessed with Homer’s gradual decline into retardation, the show’s initial protagonist was skateboarding prankster Bart- the country’s first take on their next generation.    

And those savvy Simpsons writers seemed to have nailed it. While Bart’s driving characteristic was apathy, it was a kind of self-aware apathy. Bart wasn’t stupid, he was an “underachiever”- he was capable of more but consciously chose less. This  hyper-aware apathy would become the generation’s defining trait.

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