not to praise, but bury -- one funeral at a time
June 9, 2024 8:18 AM   Subscribe

New Book Blames Yuppies for Trump, Housing—Basically Everything [ungated] - "Tom McGrath's Triumph of the Yuppies: America, the Eighties, and the Creation of an Unequal Nation is not a flattering portrait of a generation."
A gluttonous desire for wealth ultimately led the yuppies to help dissolve post-war political orthodoxies like corporate responsibility for its workers, progressive income tax on higher-wage earners and protections for unions and American jobs. These led them to support right-winger Ronald Reagan and his supply-side economics. Panaceas such as tax cuts for the wealthy, shrinking of government programs, deregulation of industry and deficit military spending emerged as de rigueur Republican positions. McGrath details the ruinous historical results: The rich got richer, while everyone else floundered. Middle-class manufacturing jobs were shipped overseas as executives privileged shareholder value and their own compensation. Social programs were slashed, harming working people and the vulnerable.
posted by kliuless (87 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
OK boomer
posted by fairmettle at 8:42 AM on June 9 [10 favorites]


Yes, young people, by all means learn the difference and blame the Yuppies, they are the guilty (not all Boomers - just the yups).
posted by Rash at 8:42 AM on June 9 [13 favorites]


Always happy to see a dunk on Ronald Reagan and associates. I'm interested to see Jane Fonda included as a relatively influential figure in the book - my perception of her was always that she was pretty adamantly liberal, which might not have been the most effective stance to take but can hardly be blamed for a sharp rightward shift. I'm too young to have been consciously aware of the eighties, however, and what really took place vs what has been recorded for posterity could well be widely separated.
posted by DSime at 8:49 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


I'm inclined to be sympathetic to the argument, but "the creation of an unequal nation" is really straining things. The US was unequal long before the yuppies arrived on the scene. The disproportionate focus on Jane Fonda is also... weird. (Two photos of her in workout attire were merited for this article about a social phenomenon she only sort of aligns with culturally and is in pretty diametric opposition to politically?)

But I'm glad that the selfish hyperindividualism of the 1980s yuppies is getting the attention it deserves as a major driver of today's social and political ills. We need to learn from that mistake.
posted by biogeo at 9:02 AM on June 9 [25 favorites]


not all Boomers - just the yups

Did you vote against Reagan, or didn't you: in the end that's what it boils down to.
posted by praemunire at 9:03 AM on June 9 [31 favorites]


Jane Fonda is specifically called out in "Kill the Poor" by the Dead Kennedys ("Jane Fonda on the screen today / convinced the liberals it's okay! / so let's get dressed and dance away the night") and I never knew what that was referencing, so now my curiosity is piqued.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:08 AM on June 9 [12 favorites]


I'm interested to see Jane Fonda included as a relatively influential figure in the book - my perception of her was always that she was pretty adamantly liberal, which might not have been the most effective stance to take but can hardly be blamed for a sharp rightward shift. I'm too young to have been consciously aware of the eighties, however, and what really took place vs what has been recorded for posterity could well be widely separated.

I do have a clearer memory of the 80s (that was high school) and the article discusses this, and mentions something I had no idea about until just now - that the biggest reason she went into the aerobics-exercise-video thing was "to fund then-husband Tom Hayden’s progressive activism and early political career." Before this I knew of her earlier activism, and so I'd chalked the 80s move up to either "okay, that's yet another hippie who turned yuppie" or "this is yet another sign the womens' lib movement backslid".

Turns out it was neither. It was "finding a way to still support the progressive movement in an extremely different landscape".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:09 AM on June 9 [47 favorites]


I had a "Die Yuppie Scum" t-shirt in 1989 or so, but by then it was too late.
posted by rikschell at 9:13 AM on June 9 [14 favorites]


If only everyone was wearing those shirts in 1980 we could have fixed the whole thing.
posted by Not A Thing at 9:19 AM on June 9 [25 favorites]


I am guessing a good venom read but essentially a millimeter deep and just so.
posted by Pembquist at 9:23 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


I was too young to vote in the 80s (I tried to warn my parents...) but I was a teenager so I do remember it well. There was definitely a strong element of capitalist acquisitiveness and amorality to the idea of yuppies then. corporate wall street greed was admired. stuff stuff and more shiny expensive stuff.

I don't get the Jane Fonda thing much except maybe after her known association with liberal politics in the 70s her 80s video success may have been seen as a sell-out?
posted by supermedusa at 9:26 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Did you vote against Reagan, or didn't you

In 1980 I voted for Carter, but it's my great shame that in 1984 even I was swayed by The Great Communicator's smooth talk. Fritz looked silly in his helmet (and the Democrats had already blown it in my view by choosing him over the senator from Ohio, John Glenn!? Were they nuts?!) And here was Reagan on TV with a model of the X-30 space-plane, telling us "Where we're going we won't need roads" so that was the one and only time I voted for the Republican candidate, sorry.
posted by Rash at 9:47 AM on June 9 [14 favorites]


"Greed is good" has led to a place where everyone feels like they have to Get Theirs whether they want to or not because otherwise you could be homeless.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:49 AM on June 9 [24 favorites]


there was a club in town where the yuppies lined up and the music of course sucked. It was standard practice when cruising past to roll down the window and shout "fascists!!!!"

I don't think most of them knew the meaning of the word.
posted by philip-random at 9:50 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


Fritz looked silly in his helmet

Was that not Dukakis in '88?
posted by mph at 10:10 AM on June 9 [26 favorites]


Did you vote against Reagan, or didn't you

Here's an interesting question - who remembers that there was a visible 3rd party candidate in 1980? My parents both went 3rd party that year. I think they both went with Mondale in 1984.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:13 AM on June 9 [8 favorites]


Reagan was weak sauce as a conservative. He allowed the left to deepen its trenches in the culture and to start digging them in commerce, his cuts in taxes (as a share of GDP) and non-military spending were small and more less immediately reversed, and he was broadly supportive of immigration which, whatever else you think of it, has netted tens of millions of votes for Democrats.
posted by MattD at 10:20 AM on June 9


Here's an interesting question - who remembers that there was a visible 3rd party candidate in 1980?

Yeah, my dad had a giraffe tie in support of John Anderson.
posted by mph at 10:28 AM on June 9 [4 favorites]


blaming yuppies lets a lot of other people off the hook. Even better, there’s no yuppies now - a vanished group in terms of social standing and demographic. It’s all the fault of those people who vanished, now let’s all move on and not look into the backgrounds of any of our civic leaders or the people who fund them! Great, good chat everybody.
posted by The River Ivel at 10:30 AM on June 9 [13 favorites]


I don’t believe middle-class manufacturing jobs were previously retained out of social concern or a lack of desire for profits. These are broad international changes in the world economy which no national government could do much about. Yuppies were at most a symptom.

But yeah, Jane Fonda has a lot to answer for.
posted by Phanx at 10:32 AM on June 9 [4 favorites]


But yeah, Jane Fonda has a lot to answer for.

....What? Why her specifically?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:37 AM on June 9 [17 favorites]


It was Dukakis who got flak for wearing a helmet when he ran against HW in 88, not Mondale in 84.
posted by brujita at 10:40 AM on June 9 [7 favorites]


Reagan was weak sauce as a conservative.

Gary Gerstle's The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order makes the case that Reagan and Thatcher were profound manifestations of the neoliberal turn, but that Bill Clinton represents its real solidification and entrenchment, because, he reasons, you can't really gauge the potency or permanence of what he calls "political orders" until they compel a putative opponent to support them. He points to Eisenhower's mildness toward the New Deal as evidence of that political order's actual victory, and says of Clinton:
Clinton arguably did more than [Ronald] Reagan himself to facilitate the tenets of the neoliberal order: the commitment to deregulation, the celebration of globalization, and the idea that there should be free markets everywhere. That indicates the political movement of neoliberalism had established itself as an order, with the ability to define the terrain of American politics.
Neoliberalism lives comfortably with socially liberal politics.
posted by mph at 10:48 AM on June 9 [31 favorites]


More lobbyi$ts, more inequality.
posted by Fupped Duck at 10:51 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Even better, there’s no yuppies now - a vanished group in terms of social standing and demographic.

Barbara Ehrenreich called them the "professional managerial class" in her 1989 Fear of Falling, which situated them as something outside grist for the novelty book market. Catherine Liu's The Virtue Hoarders brings the concept into the 21st century. I think you could argue David Brooks spotted the same social current with Bobos in Paradise (even if he gets to different conclusions).

I really loved Paul Fussell's Class as a fish-out-of-water poor kid at a nice college, but in hindsight think his whole notion of the "X" class as something outside the middle class he was pouring a bunch of contempt on as status-anxious cowards with no taste of their own missed the idea that neoliberalism was carving out a space for socially liberal economic fatalists who're still completely middle class — just shifting around in terms of their preoccupations and class shibboleths.
posted by mph at 10:57 AM on June 9 [12 favorites]


Here's an interesting question - who remembers that there was a visible 3rd party candidate in 1980?

Even though I was a teenager at the time I somehow acquired (and may still have buried in a box somewhere) a novelty election coin marked "Heads = vote Reagan/Tails = vote Carter/If it lands on its edge vote Anderson"

Gary Gerstle's The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order makes the case that Reagan and Thatcher were profound manifestations of the neoliberal turn, but that Bill Clinton represents its real solidification and entrenchment...

I said for decades that Clinton was the best Republican president of the modern era. Then Joe Lieberman-acolyte Obama came along and blew him out of the fucking water.
posted by Pedantzilla at 10:58 AM on June 9 [7 favorites]


> And here was Reagan on TV with a model of the X-30 space-plane, telling us "Where we're going we won't need roads" so that was the one and only time I voted for the Republican candidate, sorry.

> Reagan was weak sauce as a conservative.

> These are broad international changes in the world economy which no national government could do much about. Yuppies were at most a symptom.

> Neoliberalism lives comfortably with socially liberal politics.

The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan

> I think you could argue David Brooks spotted the same social current with Bobos in Paradise (even if he gets to different conclusions).

Yuppie - "In October 2000, David Brooks remarked in a Weekly Standard article that Benjamin Franklin – due to his extreme wealth, cosmopolitanism, and adventurous social life – is 'Our Founding Yuppie'.[18]"
posted by kliuless at 11:08 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


there’s no yuppies now

On the contrary, IMO it's yuppies (or yuppie-wannabees) all the way down, now.


BTW sorry for my tarring Mondale with Dukakis' brush helmet - to quote Uncle Leo, "I'm old, I forget stuff!"
posted by Rash at 11:18 AM on June 9 [6 favorites]


He allowed the left to deepen its trenches in the culture and to start digging them in commerce

Ah, thanks, I needed a good laugh today.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:26 AM on June 9 [15 favorites]


I get the sense this book is a kind of weird stroll down revisionist nostalgia lane, in addition to pointing the finger at a socioeconomic demographic that doesn't really exist anymore, and was difficult to really pin down even at the time. There seems to be a failure to recognize that Reagan was elected with a broad coalition that included the support of lots of working class voters.

Some people like to extoll class solidarity, even if that solidarity exists mostly in their imaginations. The problem to this day is that the left is suspicious of success, and can't imagine how anybody could be an upwardly mobile yuppie (however you define that) in good conscience, or even aspire to be upwardly mobile. Which is kind of a big "fuck you" to a whole lot of people. That's the message that was sent. I still see that message among some leftists.

The biggest advocate the left had wasn't policy, wasn't solidarity, but rather conservatism's refusal to fundamentally accept minorities and women as equals. Back during thee Reagan years, they loved to talk big tent, were willing to take the votes, and parade any minority who happened to say something good about conservative politicians. But they were never been willing to treat anybody outside the white, male structure with real respect, when it comes down to the bottom line. Democrats didn't attract those minorities and women. Conservatism pushed them to the Democrats.

The Jane Fonda thing is kind of odd. Hanoi Jane? Really? I think she's barely living down that reputation, and mostly because the people who hated her so passionately are dead or senile.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:56 AM on June 9 [9 favorites]


I would enjoy being pointed to a credible source on Jane Fonda's alleged crimes against the nation that don't ultimately boil down to misogyny.
posted by mykescipark at 11:57 AM on June 9 [27 favorites]


Even better, there’s no yuppies now - a vanished group in terms of social standing and demographic.

Been to Brooklyn?
posted by Thorzdad at 11:58 AM on June 9 [9 favorites]


The names have changed from Yuppies to Hipsters. And yes, they are still around.
posted by Windopaene at 12:01 PM on June 9 [7 favorites]


The premise of this book seems dubious. Lumping in Fonda with Trump--son of a racist slumlord who was kind of a dick from the word go--just seems like trying to gin up controversy for the sake of book sales. The rise of the young urban professional class was well under way before a lot of proto-yuppie boomers even went off to college; Mad Men made that point very well. Sure, they got a lot of attention in the early-mid eighties because that's where the good-paying jobs were after/during the gutting of America's industrial base, but, as one of those (still fairly young) kids said, they didn't start the fire.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:02 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


The problem to this day is that the left is suspicious of success

What is success? It's certainly not synonymous with wealth, as much as the wealthiest want to convince us (and themselves) that it is.

How can any of us be called successful unless all of us succeed?
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:10 PM on June 9 [7 favorites]


The problem to this day is that the left is suspicious of success

What is success? It's certainly not synonymous with wealth, as much as the wealthiest want to convince us (and themselves) that it is.

How can any of us be called successful unless all of us succeed?


Exhibit #1
posted by 2N2222 at 12:30 PM on June 9 [12 favorites]


There are still plenty of young upwardly mobile people around to blame. Let's blame those who became too complacent and watched the basic principles of democracy erode before their eyes. Or we could blame the 1% who are fine with it all because they live well and travel the world while the poor in this country struggle to pay the rent or but enough food to feed their children if they can afford to have any. Then there is healthcare but who cares about that?
posted by DJZouke at 12:35 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


ctrl-f Ellis, Psycho, American

fail.

[I will read this book; I bet Ellis & American Psycho are mentioned at least, as he had it all pegged - yuppies, Trump, decline - in 1991]
posted by chavenet at 12:38 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


There are a couple of interesting bits in the article, I'm not convinced that they all come together to make a cohesive whole.

As someone whose early young adulthood happened more or less in this era--being a "yuppie" in those days was defined as much by who you weren't as by who you were. You weren't a hippie (at least, not anymore), you weren't a rocker--punk or otherwise, you weren't a goth or a new romantic. Conversely, you weren't a country good old boy. The "yuppie" phenom was aligned with Reaganism and Thatcherism to an extent, and that side of it the article and the book might get right. But there was also the Big Chill/Thirtysomething side of being a yuppie--people who used to see themselves as countercultural guiltily dealing with the concept that they might have transformed into what they thought they were rebelling against just a few years ago.
posted by gimonca at 12:45 PM on June 9 [8 favorites]


When we look at the landscape today, the current demographics that would match the yuppies of the 80s--suburban or gentrified urban, middle management and middle aged, somewhat educated or at least degreed--have evolved in different ways in different parts of the United States. In Minnesota, I don't think I'd say they've swung "left", but they're much, much more likely to be center-leftish Democrats today than they used to be. In other parts of the country, MAGAism has taken hold among people with similar backgrounds. The geographic distribution of those changes is pretty uneven. Whether you live in a red state or a blue state may be a result of which way that demographic shifted in your area.
posted by gimonca at 12:55 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Jane Fonda was outspokenly liberal and supported Huey Newton and the Black Panthers, feminism, the LGBTQ+ community, and other causes. She opposed the Vietnam War and she was called Hanoi Jane after she visited Hanoi in 1972.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:15 PM on June 9 [15 favorites]


And then she abandoned all that to get rich hawking aerobics videos. I would guess that's why the author would choose her as a central example of the yuppie takeover... that's essentially the defining characteristic. Hippies who put away their childish ideals and went capitalist.
posted by team lowkey at 1:26 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Did you vote against Reagan, or didn't you

who remembers that there was a visible 3rd party candidate in 1980?

I remember - because I was actually campaigning that year. I was too young to vote, but I made phone calls and ... did something else? Wrote letters maybe? ... for Carter. That did not go over well with my Republican father.

I'm pretty sure that was the first active campaigning I ever did. I got less active over the next many years, but then more involved again as I got older.

I always look at premises like these, grapple with them for a few minutes, and end up reaching, always, the same conclusion: individuals are individuals, and people change over their lifetimes. (EmpressCallipygo's insight about Jane Fonda above being an interesting example.) We get more conservative or less, more progressive or less, more involved and active, or less. I keep finding it hard to believe in trends.
posted by kristi at 1:35 PM on June 9 [5 favorites]


And then she abandoned all that to get rich hawking aerobics videos.

That's pretty unfair to her. Yes, she was probably never as visible as an activist as she was during the Vietnam War -- and who can blame her from wanting to stay out of the spotlight after how much shit she got? But she has continued to support progressive causes all her life.
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:39 PM on June 9 [23 favorites]


Making me proud of the car sticker I had: "Die Yuppie Scum"
posted by anadem at 1:40 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


you can't really gauge the potency or permanence of what he calls "political orders" until they compel a putative opponent to support them

Thinking suddenly of the anecdote about Margaret Thatcher being asked what her greatest success was and saying Tony Blair.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:43 PM on June 9 [5 favorites]


this is where the Jane Fonda 9 to 5 acting role intersects with the recent death of one Dabney Coleman - something something aerobics Ted Turner CNN?
posted by djseafood at 1:46 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


This seems like it will be one of those pop-sociology books that seems utterly convincing if you already agree with its thesis, easy to pick apart if you don't, and occasionally laughable to people who lived through the era in question and were paying attention at the time. (I'm probably about 60/30/10% on those.)

I haven't read it, but I have it on hold from the library.
posted by box at 1:57 PM on June 9 [10 favorites]


and who can blame her from wanting to stay out of the spotlight after how much shit she got? But

she didn't stay out of the spotlight. She made banal no-pain-no-gain fitness videos, cashed in. Which I suppose was the real core of yuppiedom, changing the system from within. Which, to paraphrase Leonard Cohen, sentenced us all to twenty years of boredom.
posted by philip-random at 2:23 PM on June 9


The Jane Fonda thing is kind of odd. Hanoi Jane? Really? I think she's barely living down that reputation, and mostly because the people who hated her so passionately are dead or senile.

nope - i had a nice little visit in the grand rapids vfw hall a year or two ago where they were having a cd and record show and all the urinals were nicely adorned with stickers of jane fonda that you could piss on - new ones, too

i don't believe they've forgotten one bit
posted by pyramid termite at 2:36 PM on June 9 [7 favorites]


box: This seems like it will be one of those pop-sociology books that seems utterly convincing if you already agree with its thesis, easy to pick apart if you don't, and occasionally laughable to people who lived through the era in question and were paying attention at the time. (I'm probably about 60/30/10% on those.)

Sounds like a perfect candidate for the If Books Could Kill podcast. I can almost hear Michael and Peter saying each other’s names and asking what they know about the book, only to be answered by a witty retort.
posted by dr_dank at 2:38 PM on June 9 [5 favorites]


I'm inclined to be sympathetic to the argument, but "the creation of an unequal nation" is really straining things. The US was unequal long before the yuppies arrived on the scene.

this is the graph that's normally cited, it's fairly convincing. . 1980s is when lots of stuff started going nuts.

Painters and Dockers: Die Yuppie Die
posted by Sebmojo at 3:04 PM on June 9 [5 favorites]


she didn't stay out of the spotlight

I thought I was fairly clear that I meant she stayed out of the activism spotlight, not the Hollywood spotlight. Perhaps it was the word "spotlight" that confused you? In any case, I was saying that she never seemed to be quite as visible in her activism as she was during the Vietnam War. I'd list her various causes and activities for you, but you can find Wikipedia, right?

As far as "cashing in" -- I mean, she was already a celebrity. She started acting in her teens, and by 1970 she was an internationally known star. She won an Oscar in 1971 for christ's sake. It's not like she started out as some small time community activist who got famous for being outspoken and then used that notoriety to make money selling fitness videos. I don't think "get in shape with Hanoi Jane" was her marketing plan, you know?

There's also something a tinge misogynistic about dismissing her career post-Vietnam as just making fitness videos. For one, fitness videos are a product largely associated with women, and whatever you think of the quality of her videos in particular, using "fitness videos" as a general metaphor for "vapid and valueless product" is a little iffy. And for another, she did keep acting, you know? In, like, lots and lots of movies and TV shows? She was even nominated for and won some awards?

And I don't even know what to make of criticizing her for "changing the system from within" -- She's Henry freakin' Fonda's daughter, she was always on the "inside." As are most of us, probably -- I mean, if you're an US citizen who lives above the poverty line, you are pretty much in the system writ large, and unless you want to exit society completely and start a guerilla army, pretty much your only choice is changing it from within. It's not like she joined the Republican party or became a cop.

It's not that I'm personally invested in boosting her image or think she's some perfect example of fighting the good fight, but the narrative that "she protested the Vietnam War and then sold out to make stupid fitness videos" or "abandoned" all her progressive ideals to be rich & famous is just complete bullshit. Vietnam was certainly her most famous (or infamous) cause, but come on, a quick perusal of her bio gives the lie to that. Or even reading EmpressCallipygo's comment in this very thread.

Long story short: she didn't use her activism as a ladder to celebrity. She used her celebrity to bolster her activism. Did she do absolutely as much as she could? Probably not. Did she do everything perfectly? Probably not. Was she generally on the right side of history? Probably. Did she do a shit ton more than me (and probably a lot of people in here) to try make the world a better place? Probably.
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:28 PM on June 9 [45 favorites]




Making Jane Fonda an emblem of 80s greed is weaksauce and bad writing. You may as well say that when some band you used to like signed to a major label, that signaled the death of innocence and the rise of predatory capitalism. What I remember about the yuppies is that they were ridiculed but also normalized as an example of “it’s ok to make a ton of money for its own sake”. That wasn’t really new though - hello, robber barons! - and it was the regulatory and tax changes that really opened the doors wide. And there was a certain type of dress theoretically, but the spirit continues on. Like if you work in finance or are a FAANG programmer because you just love the tech so darn much - you are a yuppie. Basically almost anyone who goes into the corporate world to claw back loans or do better than their parents did = some yuppie-adjacent cohort. I worked in tech 25+ years and looked down on the Republican salespeople and execs, but I was riding that train all the same.
posted by caviar2d2 at 3:37 PM on June 9 [13 favorites]


I started professional work as an engineer in the tech world in 1980. FYI, hated Reagan, voted against him twice. My peers and I then described the world we live in now, as a predictable consequence of Reagan (and Reaganite) policies. I've spent my adult life blaming "The Greatest Generation" for the 80's and their consequences. Basically, you have an entire generation who was deeply pissed that their ungrateful offspring didn't natively respect their parents sacrifices and weren't particularly happy about throwing themselves into battle. The Yuppies weren't in charge then. They may have been an easy cultural target, but it was the WWII/Korean War generation that ultimately put us where we are now. Boomers knew they lost the culture war on issues that mattered, so, might as well make some money.
I'm not saying we Boomers don't have a hell of a lot to answer for. But, every generation in this country has a lot to answer for once they're the ones with their hands on the levers.
posted by Carmody'sPrize at 3:38 PM on June 9 [11 favorites]


Look at the stats. A smaller percentage of 30-44s voted for Carter in 1980 than of 60 and ups! (If you go below the age 30 breakpoint, which slices through the Boomer cohort, it does get a bit less depressing, but you can't blame Reagan on the GGs. At the very least, the yuppies played right along with it.)
posted by praemunire at 3:52 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


I always felt that Jane Fonda was used more as a undefined fairytale baddie for the nascent right-wing media-sphere of the time, similar to how Soros is treated today. "You'd better sleep tight kids, or else JANE FONDA will come and protest your military or raise your taxes or something communist."

To be honest though, it was the 1980's either you were selling out or you were being sold to. It was some messed up reflection of the boom from the postwar 1950s.

How can anyone come to the conclusion that yuppies have disappeared? Do you not see any advertising?

Hint:you are surrounded right now by millenial yuppies. shhh, throw that (insanely arcane beverage/eco-virtuous item/wall art of child's name) over there to distract them...
posted by Sphinx at 4:20 PM on June 9 [9 favorites]


Time to rewatch They Live.
posted by doctornemo at 6:29 PM on June 9 [7 favorites]


Hell, I'm still waiting for an answer as to why Jane Fonda "has a lot to answer for". Why not go for Michael Douglas, he's the one who gave words to the yuppie ethos.

* Yes, I know he is an actor saying words that someone else wrote, that's kind of my point - that if he can be excused for that, then so should Jane Fonda, no?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:26 PM on June 9 [7 favorites]


I always felt that Jane Fonda was used more as a undefined fairytale baddie

You know what? It's time for my semi-annual "9 to 5" rewatch.

I'm a late Gen Xer and as such have been proudly complaining about Boomers for my entire life (and ironically, have listened to my Boomer parents complain about "yuppies" since at least 1985, despite the fact that they were, by all appearances, yuppies themselves in 1985). But at this point, and maybe this just the fact that I'm now almost fifty and having a fucking hot flash and completely annoyed that my hair is really starting to go grey at the moment of my life when I finally decided that I like the natural color. And everyone's older Boomer parents (including my dad who is currently in a hospital in Chicago awaiting a kidney transplant from another Boomer) are sick or dying or trying to deal with a dementia diagnosis. And I don't like the fact that government seems to be so preposterously old , and Boomers have so much of the wealth/power tied up, but I'm getting bored of acting like they are the only people holding up progress, that they are some immovable monolith that exists as an impediment for everyone else. And I'm not just saying that because . . . well, I'm not exactly eager to find out how long it is before everyone decides this is on us for enabling Clinton or being in age bracket that also includes Elon Musk and Ron DeSantis or "selling out" after all or whatever. And I'm not even sure I'll be able to argue with them when they do. Because what the fuck have I done other than inisist I'm so much different than people born twelve years before more while I'm bitching about my parents.
posted by thivaia at 8:30 PM on June 9 [9 favorites]


Minor Derail: I want to apologize to phillip-random & team lowkey for the unnecessary snark in my last comment. Sorry about that, it was rude and inappropriate.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:01 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


....What? Why her specifically?

That was just my idea of a joke.
posted by Phanx at 9:34 PM on June 9


I want to apologize to phillip-random &

I probably deserved it. I'm currently working with a bunged keyboard that is hitting at best .500 with one of the key letters of the alphabet. Which leads to laziness, incomplete thoughts.
posted by philip-random at 9:44 PM on June 9


The difference between yuppies and hipsters/millenials/gen z (or whatever term you have for young people) is that yuppies were doing well financially.
posted by The River Ivel at 12:15 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Someone posted this in a recent thread, counter to the prevailing wisdom, but I wouldn't know how to vet it: Generation Z is Unprecedentedly Rich (or the original Economist link).
posted by nobody at 4:57 AM on June 10


I'll put my support behind Fonda.

If we want to use "yuppie" as a coherent class descriptor, and not just a character in the puppet show of history, then it seems to me that their successors can't be something so vague as the hipster. I think the obvious analogue today is the techies, or techbros if you like. As finance capital ballooned, crashed, ballooned again, and ossified, the new venue for capitalists to pursue infinite growth and for clever young people from the lower middle class to get degrees and pull themselves up a rung is less about moving money around than moving bits around, since the late 90s at least.
posted by jy4m at 5:36 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


yuppie : preppy :: techbro : hipster
posted by box at 6:36 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Sooo, I was around back then, and I'm bemused by the focus on Jane Fonda. I can't read what the article says about her, but I don't remember any particular view of Jane Fonda as a cultural signifier at that time? Aerobics were big then the way yoga is big now. We didn't spend a lot of time thinking about Jane Fonda ... not saying that in a sneering way, just she was a celebrity doing her thing, not some sort of (apparent) major social force or Kardashian-esque figure with regards to money, fame, gossip, attention.

I agree that yuppies were basically a scourge, though. I thought so then, and still do. We called them The Young Republicans, not in a loving way.
posted by taz at 7:07 AM on June 10 [4 favorites]


Agreed, taz, between 'Barbarella' and the aerobics tapes, she wasn't really on the radar, in my recollection. All of the Hanoi Jane stuff has been amplified and enhanced-to-tell-a-better-story by the right for decades, 'cause she's one of the few anti-Vietnam War foils they've been able to demonize.
posted by Rash at 7:51 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Thinking suddenly of the anecdote about Margaret Thatcher being asked what her greatest success was and saying Tony Blair.

"Margaret Thatcher herself described her legacy as being Tony Blair."
"She wasn't very well at the time."

posted by jackbishop at 8:12 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Fritz in his helmet...

A textbook example of rash eponystery.
posted by y2karl at 8:17 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I can't find the source, but on Jane Fonda, I saw something recently during the discussions about celebrities not using their power to advocate, about how she wanted to leave acting fairly early in her career to focus entirely on activism and her manager talked her out of it, pointing out that she had much more power as a celebrity than she would as solely an advocate.

Given the backlash against her around her activism, I can't imagine she was an easy hire in Hollywood and she would also at some point be "aging out" of the type of roles she was playing anyway and thus I can totally see why she went to do the line of aerobics videos and use that as a way to stay in the spotlight as well as keep raising funds for progressive causes.

Jane Fonda made and made mistakes, but she did her best, responded by trying to improve when she fucked and and has kept going forever, using her power how she can. Jane Fonda rules.
posted by urbanlenny at 8:50 AM on June 10 [7 favorites]


Frankly, her role in Grace and Frankie as a sassy weed-smoking octogenarian is #lifegoals, as the kids say.
posted by Kitteh at 9:10 AM on June 10 [5 favorites]


there is a way that yuppies represent a sort of visible acquisitiveness and image that the Duck Dynasty/Cabela's-branded types also represent, and the style distinctions are ultimately superficial

and that impulse to purchase and consume and present, it has been around

about Jane Fonda I have no strong views, but I do think it took guts to travel to N. Vietnam during the war and I'm not aware of too many celebrity personalities of our times who would do anything similar
posted by elkevelvet at 9:28 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Making me proud of the car sticker I had: "Die Yuppie Scum"

It's German for "the yuppie scum."
posted by kirkaracha at 10:34 AM on June 10 [9 favorites]


Making me proud of the car sticker I had: "Die Yuppie Scum"

It's German for "the yuppie scum."


True story: in college (late 80s) I briefly dated a woman who had spent a year in Germany and told me she came back to the States being very confused by all of the "The Yuppie Scum" (pronounced "yoopie scoom") t-shirts she saw all over town.
posted by Pedantzilla at 11:50 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


The worst thing Reagan did IMO is substantially cut funding to mental institutions, which meant fewer beds and less staff. If you could put your pants on and feed yourself they handed you a $50, clean clothes, some contacts to further assistance and a wave goodbye. The homeless population, naturally, exploded. Callous acts like that only for the almighty dollar was the hallmark of the Yuppies.
posted by hairless ape at 12:29 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


Perhaps I missed it above, but nobody as mentioned that Jane Fonda was born in 1937 so she isn’t a boomer. I think more people were turned off by her marriage to Ted Turner than her videos.

As for yuppies, most of them were the guys and gals earning MBAs at all the top Business Schools and going to work for the big consulting or investment firms. My ex-wife went to a top B-school and told me how all her classmates laughed at her for going to work in tech rather than a consulting company. We wanted nothing to do with them.

Many of the rest of us in our late 20s or early 30s back then were trying to make living or create something important. I was part of a startup and making money was secondary to us as opposed to making the next cool computer system.
posted by jvbthegolfer at 12:48 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


hairless ape: as someone who lives in a city impacted by homelessness largely for this very reason, I think of that every damn day. (I mean, there's also the opiates, but if the Sacklers weren't buddies with Reagan at some remove, I'll eat my hat.)

As someone who was just a kid in the 80s, I fully accept that my nostalgia is a toxic impulse (TM Judge John Hodgman). It was a terrible time to be a grownup with a heart. Things seemed fun because there was a lot of money sloshing around. There seemed to be a future because nobody had pissed on every idea or exploited it to death yet. Today, the internet allows that process to happen in a matter of weeks or even hours.

... she came back to the States being very confused by all of the "The Yuppie Scum" (pronounced "yoopie scoom") t-shirts she saw all over town.


I wonder if she's ever seen American visitors in hysterics over a "we're hiring" sign that says WIR SUCHEN DICH.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:09 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


Well, that gives a whole new meaning to "it's so hard to get good help these days."
posted by taz at 9:21 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Perhaps I missed it above, but nobody as mentioned that Jane Fonda was born in 1937 so she isn’t a boomer. I think more people were turned off by her marriage to Ted Turner than her videos.

Jane Fonda didn't marry Ted Turner until 1991, though.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:09 AM on June 11


You know what? It's time for my semi-annual "9 to 5" rewatch.

Especially now that the right has gone after Dolly, too.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:37 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Hell, I recently read an anecdote where someone told a Pastor after a church service that he had made JESUS sound "too woke". The Pastor had been directly quoting Jesus's own words.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:26 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I think maybe I’ll just rewatch The Big Chill instead of reading whatever this was.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:37 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


yeah, I think it's a pretty good bet The Big Chill caused Trump. And Jane Fonda's not even in it.
posted by philip-random at 9:23 PM on June 11


I think more people were turned off by her marriage to Ted Turner than her videos.

Yes, it's a well kept secret, but the VFW urinals are basically the W.A.S.T.E. network for silent opposition to Ted Turner.

What?
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:30 AM on June 12


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