I am given to understand that the latest rage among the teen crowd is something called “High School Musical”. From what I can see, HSM is about a bunch of high school friends, each more talented and more attractive than 99.9% of students at any real-life high school. They also break out into song at the slightest provocation, and the cast is a carefully balanced blend of ethnicities and genders, with just the right amount of minority representation.
I’d say something cynical about the insidiousness of youth-targeted marketing, and the tendency of teenagers to worship their idols uncritically…but I can’t really start casting stones here. After all, my generation’s own uncritical teenage worship (and merchandising dollars) are responsible for inflicting New Kids on the Block on the world, and every one of the prior generations of high schoolers has a similar crime against good taste on their conscience.
It seems that each generation of high school kids has their corresponding generation of music producers who re-apply the same, time-tested formula to extract bushels of sweet cash from the pockets of the Clearasil crowd: put together a youth group that’s carefully designed to meet a certain formula, market the hell out of them, and then let the teens “discover” them. It’s such a reliable formula that the bands/groups/casts in question have member slots defined by archetypes–there’s the heartthrob, the rebel, the older guy, the cutie, and so on.
Marketing and merchandising–the real reason behind the fall of communism. All the ideological sugar in the world can’t make kids prefer Bulgarian corduroy pants over Levi’s, and “class-appropriate” East German pop music over Menudo, New Kids on the Block, or the freakin’ Rolling Stones.
Which manufactured boy band/TV/movie cast has your generation inflicted on our cultural legacy?