This week, we interviewed The Fast Times, a ragtag crew of Xers and posers who write a publication about Gen X culture.
What’s your Substack about in one sentence?
The Fast Times is a culture e-zine for Gen X (and wannabes) designed to be an intergenerational conversation-starter and discovery tool, all with a touch of clever nostalgia and smart snark.
In your view, what defines Gen X culture?
Gen X is the first truly global demographic. As the pioneers of early internet, video games, telephones without cords, untethered music, MTV (the real thing), and so much more, its members also dealt with divisive political rhetoric, challenges to civil rights, the AIDS epidemic, the fall of the Berlin Wall, economic boom, bust, and boom again – all similar aspects to what we’re collectively dealing with today.
The Fast Times came from a desire to create something truly awesome for Gen X that wasn’t just another AARP mailer. So, in essence, we’re working to help define Gen X culture and its impact and relevance in today’s world.
Your publication bridges modern entertainment news with a heavy dose of 80s nostalgia. What role do you think nostalgia plays in pop culture today?
Every issue of The Fast Times boasts a central theme based on historical precedents set by Xers, which we then compare to interesting parallels unfolding today: #CancelCulture and “Political Correctness”, livestream shopping and QVC, Twitch heroes and mall arcade legends. To boil it all down, we compare the life experiences and societal happenings of the ‘80s and ‘90s to today’s trends. Turns out, they’re not so different.
We also strive to represent a complete picture of the ‘80s, ‘90s, and correlations to today, which is why we focus on themes like Detroit Techno and Riot grrrl feminism in addition to some of the more mass relevant references. We want this to be a place where all Xers feel represented, shining a spotlight on events, fashion, art, communities, and issues of the day that didn’t get due credit – then or since.
You call your publication an "e-zine." How is your publication inspired by zine culture?
Zine culture is fascinating to us – passionate fans often anonymously producing DIY rags that drip with personality and spotlight non-mainstream issues and trends: such a beautiful thing.
Aside from mimicking a DIY look and feel throughout, The Fast Times is completely free, as many zines were back in the day. The crew has also largely remained anonymous since launch, choosing instead to focus on producing a dope product instead of seeking individual attention for our contributions to it. We, a ragtag crew of Xers and posers, cobbled our first issue together in a week and have been riding the wave ever since. Maybe one of these days we’ll get around to building an actual editorial calendar… but they call Gen X the “slacker generation” for a reason, right?
What's one Gen X trend you're glad to have left behind? What's one you wish would make a comeback?
We could definitely do without the toxic masculinity and whitewashing that was pervasive throughout Hollywood, though Xers played a huge rule in pushing for change.
What do you wish "kids these days" would understand about Gen X?
Our mission is to create a product that leans into current intergenerational topics, (with a touch of Gen X nostalgia) and inspires dialogue, but without the “back in my day,” talking-at approach like so much of the generational warfare playing out on social media. The fact is, coolness is fleeting, and every generation had its at-bat. Further, every generation had to deal with its share of society-altering nonsense and each also had to do significant clean-up from the preceding generations.
Through thought-provoking “then-versus-now” comparisons of society and pop-culture, we aim to bridge the gap between the insanely modernizing world of today and the not-so-different events of yore – while also pulling in a healthy dose of Gen Z and Millennial subjects (contextualized in Gen X speak) so Xers can live their lives on the edge of seventeen.
Who’s another Substack writer you’d recommend?
Flow State. When we’re not rockin’ and rollin’ all night, Flow State offers up incredible focus playlists, keeping our crazy train on the rails as we churn out intergenerational greatness. Flow State’s innovative approach to leveraging Substack as a tool for music discovery is brilliant – a strategy we also implement with “The Mixtape”, our weekly curated grab bag of the coolest internet happenings.