Here’s the deal, Gen X: You gotta see the documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil. The movie was released nationally last Friday (June 19, 2009), and it’s the story of the Canadian ’80’s metal band Anvil — a band that, according to the experts in this field, came this close to making it big, and influenced many of the ’80’s metal bands that came along right after and alongside them (Slayer, Scorpions, etc.). All of the other bands went on to sell millions of records . . . and Anvil did not. Fast forward twenty years, and the documentary finds the primary members (lead singer Steve “Lips” Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner) still trying to become rock gods while balancing families, jobs (Lips works delivering school lunches, Reiner works as a home contractor) and their own mental health and stability as they follow thier dreams into their 50’s.
Now . . . don’t get me wrong. I’m not telling you to see this movie because I’m a huge metal head from way back. I couldn’t tell the difference between Slayer and Scorpions if my life depended on it. I was always more of a Brit Rock kid in the ’80’s (Duran Duran, The Alarm, etc. . . . okay The Alarm was from Wales, but you get my point . . .). I’m telling you to see this movie, Gen X, because it is a gift from the generation before us about what we should expect from ourselves and from life over the next twenty years. This isn’t a movie about metal music. It’s about what is important in life: friendship, passion, love, fear, doubt, commitment, experience, expression, kindness and faith. These are the words we swore we’d live by when we were kids. Real kids — like when we were 12 — before the high school peer pressure and hormones kicked in, before the self-obsession of our college existences and the cluelessness and greed of our early twenties.
Don’t worry. I’m not telling you to quit your job or leave your spouse or (for heaven’s sake) go join a metal rock band. What I am telling you is that Anvil! The Story of Anvil will remind you of what really matters in your life, and should help you think about what cards you’re going to play before time’s up. For Lips and Robb from Anvil, they decided put all of thier cards on the table for the chance for fame and fortune of being heavy metal gods. For you — and for all of Gen X, I’m only asking that we have to at least put some of our cards on the table. If we continue to hold back, I’m concerned that we’ll stop taking any chances at all — in the name of security, our personal obligations and, yes, granite countertops. See Anvil! The Story of Anvil and think about the calculated risks you can take (however small) to pursue your dreams and face your fears and doubts. If you don’t, how will you really make your mark? The irony in Anvil! is, in the midst of the anguish, pa and pursuit . . . Lips and Robb are participating in the fullfillment of their dream because the documentary itself is becoming the vehicle for their ultimate success. And therein lies the true lesson for Gen X: we’ll only achieve our goals if we’re willing to participate (indeed, cherish) the struggle.