Monday, 7 March 2016

Less than Zero

'I realize that all it comes down to is that I'm this eighteen-year-old boy with shaking hands and blond hair and with the beginnings of a tan and semistoned sitting in Chasen's on Doheny and Beverly, waiting for my father to ask me what I want for Christmas.'  (Clay)

The presentation of 'youth culture' of the 1980's American, in Bret Easton Ellis' 'Less Than Zero' , that is highlighted in many review works such as the article written by the New York Times, in 1985 provides a insight into the immediate reactions to Ellis' presentation of west coast junior elites and their pursuit and infusing of sex, drugs, music and other consumerism. establishing a view that 'youth culture' is in a state of moral and social decadence, 

Perception of 1980's lifestyle and culture, especially in elitist settings i.e. Bel Air, Beverley Hills, Malibu, (new money America, in California), is not a clear representation of the lifestyle of all 80's youth culture. However, the patterns of social behavior of the protagonist and other characters (including, adults, peers and younger teenagers) that becomes apparent in the novel, present a sub-culture within that of the YUPPIE.  This subculture of highly funded consumer capitalists, focusing on the condition of the YUPPIE's immediate juniors, who maintain similar characteristics and idea (other than working hard) on liberalized drug use, extensive spending of capital (to achieve happiness through the possession of material wealth), an apprehension of conformity to standard social norms and they maintain the means and motivation to avoid responsibility. In the book review, the priorities, actions and ambitions of of the characters,(mainly those of the protagonists Clay's age group) are composed to show that the youth elites of 80's California to be - [And they are] willfully intent on numbing themselves to life - Valium, Thorazine, downers and heroin are their favorite drugs; soap operas, MTV, and video games, their idea of recreation. Most of the time, they are too stoned - wasted or strung out - to remember whom they slept with the night before; too out of it to even get to the right restaurant or right party on the right day.

As the link is to a review of the novel, the use of it to identify whether the novel either provides greater clarity of the era's cultures or it inhibits the reality at the time, it is useful as it specifically touches on the theme and relevance of 'youth culture'. However, the tone of the author, highlights a genuine concern for how the representation of these sub-cultures impact the greater image of american youth; presenting a generation of mass consumers of everything; such as MTV, drugs and clothes. It also highlights the non-physical issues and themes within the novel, that are not immediately apparent to be, (and later become) synonymous with post-baby boom teenagers. Issues such as mental health, sexual orientation, racial ignorance and paternal neglect, that can be seen to have manifested and almost exacerbated  into trends. Michikio Kakutani's article not only outlines some of these key themes, she also maintain a strong advocation of Ellis' work, although the work is viewed to be "one of the most disturbing novels I've read". Showing this work of 'blank fiction' has a inherent impact upon its readers because of the vivid pictures Ellis' sets and the representation of certain groups, their inherent problems and  that become further exposed and linked to the 1980s. 

Source. -  

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