Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Yuppie Handbook

This is the front cover of a book, The Yuppie Handbook, which was published in 1984 and was a
guide to all things “yuppie”. The image of the typical yuppie couple encapsulates the lifestyle of these young professionals which was all about having the latest designer clothes and
accessories, the right apartment furnished with all the gadgets you could think
of, most of which were never used as they would be working long hours and never
home. To be seen in the right places and with the right people was also important.
The book contains some interesting chapters, such as “Yuppie role models”, “Yup and away: A Yuppie vacation guide and “What shall we name the Yuppie baby?” and these suggest to me that it was important to follow the crowd and to fit in, rather than to be an individual and forge your own path. This goes against the idea of freedom and individuality, the cornerstones of the American way of life and whilst thenotion of the American Dream is represented here in terms of the material wealth and consumption of this group of people, it also suggests an erosion of the
idea of hard work to achieve this dream, turning instead to a “get rich quick” ethos where it is success at all costs.

Movies of the period, such as Wall Street, Secret of my Success and Working Girl all focused on
individuals who aspire to the wealth, power and influence that they see as the pinnacle of achievement but who also have to make personal sacrifices in order to achieve this. The reality of the yuppie lifestyle was that it was not sustainable long term, with an unstable economic background and the eventual realisation by many that the pursuit of the ‘Almighty dollar’ does not bring happiness.

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