Austin’s 1st Gift to the World: Slacker
From November 26th to December 2nd, Metroblogging sites around the globe will be unveiling seven gifts their cities can share with the world – one gift a day for seven days. Metroblogging Austin’s first gift is … um, 3 days behind.
“Sorry, I’m late.”
“That’s okay, time doesn’t exist.”
Sure, it would have been nice to launch our gifts with the rest of the network. But this is a town that embraces the afternoon wake-up call, the intellectualization of pop-culture, and the underemployment of the overeducated. In other words, Austin is for slackers, and it just wouldn’t have been fitting for Austin to blog along in step. Especially since it was a gorgeous weekend better spent wandering around. And then there were those unwatched episodes of Battlestar Galactica waiting on iTunes. But I digress …
It was 15 summers ago that Richard Linklater helped define the decade emerging from the wreckage of the 80’s. Out of the throes and woes of the oil bust, disenchantment and cheap rent sowed the seeds for the slacker ethos that Linklater then cultivated and captured in a low-budget cinematic feature that augured the rise of indie films. Slacker only grossed $1.2 million domestically, but it struck a chord with 20-somethings nationwide, and indelibly linked Austin with the creative hedonism portrayed in the film.
Today, many of the shooting locations have been radically altered or disappeared entirely, transformed by the economic and demographic realities of the tech boom and Austin’s surging popularity. And while it’s hard to imagine any of the film’s iconic characters thriving in an environment of luxury condos and toll roads (how many Yuppies will sell you Madonna’s pap smear?), Austin’s film industry has evolved and grown up to keep pace. Linklater’s commitment to the region and to independent production has been instrumental in building the film industry in Central Texas, most obviously manifested in the Austin Studios production facility at the old Mueller Airport.
Slackers existed long before the movie, but Linklater’s film gave them faces and dialogue that defined the term for a generation, and helped define Austin in the process. While the film’s very popularity may have helped erase the environment that spawned it, there’s still a tangible slacker spirit that resonates in Austin, even amid the cranes and brushed aluminum. Linklater pegged it during a retrospective interview on Salon:
I like Austin more now. I think the mind-set’s still the same. The campus alone takes care of that: We’ve got 50,000 young people; a certain percentage of them are gonna be cool.
Click here to see what other Metroblogging Cities are giving.