Wednesday, January 18, 2012

1980's America: Consumerism and materialism.

The 1980's can be said to be very much defined by the 'if you've got it, flaunt it' attitude of the increasing number 'yuppies', middle class business men and women and budding consumerists whose personal wealth was growing through Reagan's 'trickle down' politics.

In the 80's, greed was good, consumerism and materialism were more essential to everyday life and and used as an example of status than ever before. Reagan's cut of the top tax bracket from 70% down to 50% and then down again to 28% essentially meant that the rich got richer and the poor got poorer, the wealth gap increased significantly.

Reagan was born in a small town in the Midwest, attended a small college during the depths of the Great Depression and was seen by Americans to be a self-made man who fulfilled the American Dream. He sent a new wave of optimism over America, declared that "America is back," and encouraged Americans to take what they wanted; Reagan, and believers in his f ethos anyone could strive to afford the new sports car of their dreams if they worked hard enough.

Not everyone in the decade embraced this lifestyle of excess endorsed through tax cuts and government policies that encouraged spending, literature and music of the time reflects the dichotomy and split opinions over the 'new-wave' of consumerism that gripped the 80's. Music at the time by artists such as Phil Collins was accused of sounding too corporate and processed, whilst writers such as Bret Ellis penned literature about the dark side of 80's materialism.

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