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Kevin Bacon Schools Millennials on What They’re Missing from the ’80s

Kevin BaconI don’t know of a better actor to explain the ’80s to millennials than Kevin Bacon — a star whose claim to fame is that he is connected to most people on the planet by six degrees or less.

Why? Well first of all, he was there. He’s also maintained a successful acting career in movie and television with a side gig as a musician for decades since, so he’s still immersed in pop culture. And all of that said, he wants kids today to know that he’s got their — rotary phone — number.

“Awareness of ’80s culture and technology has been in a significant decline, especially among a certain demographic,” he said, in a video made for Mashable. “I’m talking to you, millennials!”

He goes on to list the “hardships” ’80s kids faced that young people today don’t, like dialing real phones and talking to girls’ moms and actually looking up numbers in the telephone book.

I loved it.

The video was released while Bacon was at SXSW Interactive, speaking on a panel about “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” the so-called “parlor game” started 20 years ago by two guys who watched a few of his movies in a row and decided that everyone in Hollywood could be connected to him by six degrees or less. The game has had remarkable staying power, sparking a website The Oracle of Bacon and a special Google search function that allows the same kind of connection of any actor to Bacon. He said at SXSW that he was “horrified” by the game at first. “I thought it was a giant joke at my expense,” he said. “I appreciate it now. But I was very resistant to it.” He started his own website, SixDegrees.org, in 2007 that aims to connect celebrities with causes for greater social good.

I love that Kevin Bacon is still out there, acting and speaking his mind, doing good things, innovating professionally, and all the while holding it down for Generation X. Lest we forget, he also starred in one of the landmark films of the decade, for young people especially, Footloose. When Footloose marked the 30th anniversary of its release last month, he tweeted:

Sigh. I’m not in the habit of objectifying people in writing, but the scene where Ren does gymnastics in the warehouse? Let’s just say I may have pretended he was my first fictional boyfriend for way longer than I should have afterwards. I loved Footloose so much — the songs, the actors, and everything to do with the topic of teenagers dancing and enjoying themselves no matter what their parental authorities said. Just thinking about it now makes me happy. And he was amazing, just perfect in the starring role.

And yes, Gen-Xers, believe it or not Footloose just turned 30 years old, so you’ll have to forgive Kevin Bacon if he’s a little nostalgic this month. He’s no tech Luddite though, no matter what he says in the video. He’s embraced social media and uses it to share thoughts, but also to promote projects like his current series The Following, in such a likable way I almost forget he’s trying to sell me something. And at the end of his SXSW talk, his co-panelist Lance Ulanoff made a Vine that technically connects everyone in the audience to Kevin Bacon — by only one degree. Sometimes old things can be made new, or at least updated for 2014.

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