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  • Sunday, November 20, 2005


    Buying Rebellion: Manufacturing Youth Culture

    It's no secret that many teens and twentysomethings gravitate to symbols, accoutrements, and stylings different from the previous generation. The desire to rebel, to strike out in new directions, to explore different social constructs is almost hardwired in its predictability and appearance. So predictable in fact that business interests have learned how to exploit it.

    Capitalism has commodified and packaged faux rebellion, seeking to channel these youthful impulses into profits. Companies now prowl the youth culture on campuses and in big cities, striving to perceive the first inkling and coalescence of trends in order to translate it into products. The companies create "lifestyle" accessories in order to reflect them back to the youth culture, assuring them that the products and services are integral to individuality and independence.

    In reality, all of these constructed items are intended to mire the youth in consumer desires, to provide a false dream for them to buy, to present a shimmering illusion of original culture. In previous years, this was called "co-opting" of youth culture. And, like previous generations, some see it as such while others are oblivious to the forces manipulating and shaping them.

    [I thought I had much more to say on this subject but, alas, I'm tired and having difficulty focusing this into a coherent form. I'm starting to frame things in rather insulting ways. Such as: "Slang, tattoos and baggy pants are not rebellion. Collectively, they become symbols of conformity." See? That's not a productive tone to take. Sorry.]

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