Boomers are back in fashion but kids still rule the cash
Last month, Woodstock Festival – the event that’s come to represent Baby Boomer youth culture in our collective consciousness – turned 40.
Given the Boomers spawned the crazy consumer consumption habits that sent us crashing towards the GFC, it was only fitting for promoters to get the talent off the couch, jab them with Botox and organise the requisite merchandising and exorbitant ticket pricing. Ka-ching!
Meanwhile, the media and marketers have been celebrating ageing while concurrently exploring ways to delay its visible signs in order to appeal to the cash-cow that is the Boomers’ retirement fund (albeit one reduced by the GFC).
Pacific Magazines will launch Prevention magazine – the “healthy lifestyle” title aimed at 40+ women – into the Australian market next week; the 80s supermodels have returned to reassure us that Amazonian beauties get older, too; Olivia Newton-John is keeping her brain active promoting Nintendo’s DS; Botox is the new Sorbolene cream; and Hey Hey! It’s Saturday is making a live-to-air comeback on Channel Nine on September 29.
But while we’ve all been distracted by the wrinkles and nostalgia, a youth uprising has been taking place right under the Boomers’ noses; behind closed bedroom doors with Broadband access. Celebrate ageing we might, but where the fashion and entertainment industries are concerned, it’s the kids who still hold the appeal.
And they’re using their tech-savvy skills to get the word out there while their ‘rents are still figuring out how to tune in the set-top boxes.
Cue the rise of Aussie band Short Stack – recently voted the most popular band by New South Wales MySpace users, fronting the latest issue of TV Hits magazine and coming to a secret venue near you soon to promote their creatively titled new album, Stack Is The New Black.
The days of gaining grass-roots followers by pub gigging may be over: first stop MySpace, next World Domination! Meanwhile, Lily Allen, 24, who rose to fame (infamy?) via the MySpace train, continues to be omnipresent, appearing in Chanel’s handbag campaign and glossy magazine covers worldwide while singing sweet nothings over the airwaves and Tweeting about her cheeky escapades. She could have been a one-hit wonder, but the girl’s clearly got the game sussed.
Further signs of the validation of the new youth movement include head cheerleader for the pop-cultural pack Katie Grand following up her Beth Ditto issue of Conde Nast’s LOVE magazine with a second edition featuring Sting’s 19-year-old daughter, Coco Sumner, on one cover and an obscure teen bassist she discovered on the internet on the other.
Katie’s former magazine beat, POP, has put 13-year-old fashion blogger Tavi on its cover, and the latest edition of Grazia Australia contains a feature titled ‘Meet the Newbies’, introducing readers to the likes of Paloma Faith (“the new Amy Winehouse”) and Carey Mulligan (“the new Keira Knightley”). The release of Teen Vogue’s annual Hollywood Issue in the U.S. (scheduled for September 9) is like a menu of the Hot Young Things to come: this year, Twilight’s Taylor Lautner (who? what?) has scored the cover.
Catherine Caines writes ‘Young stars raise style stakes’ for The Australian, asserting that fashion advertising campaigns are firmly focused on Young Hollywood talent, with the teen stars of Harry Potter and Twilight recruited by the likes of Chanel, Burberry and Balenciaga to add some cool cred to their brands.
“Suddenly alliances with barely legal age wizards, robot defenders and vampires are a key propriety for prestige labels eager to revamp their image, which have recruited young faces including Isabel Lucas, Kristen Stewart and Emma Watson to the cause,” writes Caines.
Similarly, All Men Are Liars columnist Sam de Brito dedicated his most recent Sunday column to youth appeal, citing the popularity of Lady Gaga as evidence that it’s the kids who decide who the Next Big Thing is: “Has anybody over the age of 16 ever brought one of her CDs?” asks de Brito. “Yet she’s on the covers of adult magazines and newspapers worldwide thanks to the almost unintelligible tastes of teenage girls.
The two hottest male actors in the world at the moment, Twilight’s Robert Pattinson and High School Musical’s Zac Efron, are in that position not because of the eye of brilliant directors, movie execs or film critics but millions of teenage girls and boys who voted with their pocket money.”
Of course, the Boomers are still the gatekeepers: they hold the balance of power where corporate dollars are concerned, and will continue to hold onto it for dear life lest they be rendered redundant. Coolness is not the singular domain of the young and restless.
But it’s their offspring – the YouTube babies – who’ve got the self-promotional skill set and wide-eyed confidence to challenge the Boomers’ comeback and reassert the youth obsession that keeps plastic surgeons in business and sees middle-aged men coveting the new iPhone. MySpace is “the new” Woodstock and the kids are doing alright, still*.
*That would be a reference to Lily Allen’s debut album. Boomer bashing rant, over and out!
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