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The Voice of a Generation

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"I don't want to freak you out, but I think that I may be the voice of my generation. Or at least a voice of a generation."
Hannah Horvath, Girls

People would like to give an opinion about or criticize something happening in their country/state/reality, but for many reasons they can't... except for one character or group that can speak for those ones who have no voice in matter of opinions (not necessarily The Voiceless, but figuratively they are treated as such).

What is needed for all that people that want their opinions to be heard? Simple, by having The Voice of a Generation: A character that speaks in the name of a group that can't speak, or a group (usually a music band) that can talk about themes untouched but that represent their reality. Or what the character claims to be. In a short, the character becomes the spokeperson for those who can't make a direct opinion.

As a subversion, the character may think they speak for their generation, but are actually a Small Name, Big Ego who most people either disagree with or simply haven't heard of. Alternately, someone else from the same generation may take exception to the character's claiming to speak for them and become a Commander Contrarian to the character.

Compare Voice for the Voiceless, which is the voice of who really can't talk, The Voiceless and The Speechless. Not to be confused with Voice of the Legion, I Am Legion and Speak in Unison, which have nothing to do with this (maybe the latter can be related in some way).

See also Voice of the Resistance, which is this trope but with La RĂ©sistance, all for a greater purpose: freedom; and both Icon of Rebellion and Movement Mascot for fictional characters or symbols that become this.


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    Comic Strips 
  • Mafalda is an Argentinian comic strip about the aforementioned little girl and her vision of the world, which is very political. She and her friends became the voice of the children (who aren't listened or taken into consideration for anything, especially in the time the comic strip was released) at the point of becoming an ambassador for UNICEF.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Joker (2019) provides a big example in which after all he suffered, Arthur Fleck was invited to The Murray Franklin Show. First he took it as a prize for him, but later he realized that was invited to the program just to mock him. So, when he goes to the show, he uses the instance to talk about how the city is, how sick it becomes and how the people like him suffers everyday becoming the Voice for the Voiceless, that comes with The Reveal that he was who murdered those three people in the metro because they deserved it, as soon we see Murray deserved it, too.
  • Not just the book and the film itself, video analysis like this one spots that Trainspotting is called as "the voice of a generation", as the intro speech Mark Renton says in the first minutes:
    Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suit on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future. Choose life... But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin' else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got heroin?

  • Douglas Coupland was described as being the voice of a generation with his first work, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture; Coupland noted that this made him a tough act to follow, as all of his subsequent works would be measured against a book that was said to define a generation.
  • In the Novelization of Turning Red, the boy band 4*Town is referred to as this by Mei.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Hannah Horvath of Girls claimed to her parents, in the Pilot, to be this trope, while high on opium.
  • The Young Ones: Rick was convinced that he was a Marxist rebel, a poetic genius, the voice of an entire generation and the most well-liked and attractive member of the household. (He was spectacularly wrong on all counts).

  • Bob Dylan is usually labeled as "the voice of his generation", being his lyrics represented what happened in The '60s and becoming an inspiration to many people and a major reference for a lot of future artists until today, even having a documentary of the same name. He didn't like it and complained about the label, leading to Bill Maher snarking in a New Rule that "if we'd had any choice about whose voice was the voice of the generation, do you think we would've picked yours?"
  • In Chile, Los Prisioneros became this because of the lack of liberties of Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship in The '80s. Los Prisioneros' music not just criticize the dictatorship without being censored or dissapeared, also made acid critics of the "Chilean way of life", lyrics that still sound fresh until today.
    • Thanks to the 2019 Chilean protests, Los Prisioneros' songs like "El Baile de los que Sobran" ("The Dance of the Leftovers") and "Por Que No Se Van" ("Why Don't They Leave") became anthems for the movement now more than ever, as if they relive the Pinochet's dictatorship in the end of The New '10s.

    Profssional Wrestling 
  • Ur-Example: Before the term was coined, Shane Douglas was one of the first ones to make a "pipebomb" at the beginning of The '90s. After winning the N.W.A Heavyweight Championship, Shane made a powerful speech thanking all the previous champions... then threw up the title and dismissed it in exchange for the new ECW Heavyweight Championship, basically saying he didn't want to be "the last of a lineage" but being "the torch for a new era", this is because he wasn't the only one who thought NWA had a decline and a new era should be made. For Paul Heyman (also known for making lots of "pipe bombs"), this moment is When It All Began for the ECW as company, before that it was just a minor federation part of the NWA.
  • WWE:
    • CM Punk referred to himself as the "Voice of the Voiceless", saying things to Mr. McMahon that everyone else would like to say but can't. It made him ridiculously popular. He became the Trope Namer for the "Pipebomb" term in wrestling as part of his remembered moment in 2011:
      This is power. The voice is power. In anyone else's hands, this is a microphone. In my hands, it's a pipebomb.
      • His return for the wrestling scene as part of WWE Backstage program in 2019 (being contracted by FOX and not by WWE) just reaffirmed this, now being able to criticize the "product" as a free agent without being afraid of being suspended or punished by WWE.
    • The same formula was used for his couple and wife A.J. Lee, mixed with her Cloudcuckoolander personality, who also became popular for this, especially critizicing the Divas division (and specifically the Bella Twins) for being more Male Gaze than wrestlers.
    • Thanks to CM Punk, the "Pipebombs" (as he baptized this term) became popular between some wrestlers as a way to getting off the kayfabe and make them more popular between people as they say what people want to say to the company and to some wrestlers, some recent cases are Ronda Rousey and Kevin Owens.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Simpsons Christmas Episode "Holidays of Future Passed", the Simpsons are set thirty years in the future as a kind of Distant Finale, with Homer and Marge older, Bart and Lisa are grown up with their own families (all as dysfunctional as the Simpsons themselves), and Maggie is a young adult that became the lead singer of her own rock band, being labeled as "the voice of her generation". It's Played for Laughs since like most future episodes, she can't even say a word in the episode without being interrupted, and due to being close to giving birth, since it was recently discovered the umbilical cord is also a vocal cord.