Thursday, 3 March 2016

(Week 8) Less Than Zero - Drugs and Teens

Less Than Zero - Drugs  and Teenager representations.

The website article i have chose to look at is actually kind of a weird one. It is from a website called NYU Literature. Arts & Medicine database and is useful in showing how the inclusion of drugs within the text helps us understand how the book represents the 1980s .

The commentary on the text starts off by saying how drugs within the text heavily weigh on the image of the 'Next Generation' in the 1980s. The common aspiration of the 80s was to make money and live a yuppie lifestyle but in the book 
"The characters barely stir from their spoiled, stoned lethargy, so apathetic and narcissistic it makes "ennui" seem positively romantic"
This shows that the book is not representing the Teens and Young Adults of the 1980s that aim for the heights but the complete opposite. It represents the lost generation of the 80s, teens that has little to know aspiration and instead stay in a sort of comatose state happy to sit around and do nothing but drugs. They still own the nice cars and have money like the yuppie figures but also represent something much darker, it is a,
"shocking portrayal of dissolute youth in the Reagan era, and certainly deserves to be catalogued in the canon of drugs literature: cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, heroin, qualudes, benzodiazapenes are readily sniffed, smoked, imbibed, injected, and swallowed." 
They represent the negative side of the 80s lifestyle. what life is like behind the cars and behind the money. However i do not think this problemises the image of the 80s at all but helps us understand the message of the book as heavily negative towards 80s pop culture. 

The article continues and goes on the state that
"This is the great, damning, controversial introduction to Generation X as callow, unfeeling youth searching out darker and darker thrills; to their parents, callow, unfeeling adults too blitzed to feel much of anything; and the shallow materialism of their world".
Suggesting that through the presence of drugs there is this creation of a darker outlook towards the Generation x. The inclusion of drugs aids in the attempt to make these teens seem for disconnected for society and emotions, like not even being able to tell your sister apart through Clay, and creates the image of teens with the intent to discover darker thrills.

The article ends discussing other aspects of the novel and how Less Than Zero has become outdated, which naturally it would. However it does show common tropes of the 1980s, watching MTV music and playing each other at video games, two forms of entertainment that became hugely popular in the 1980s. This helps us understand and pin point the audience the book is representing. Through this and inclusion of drugs in the story we get this stagnant generation who do little and party hard, but i think they are presented in a very negative way.  

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