Wednesday, February 8, 2012

In Bret Easton Eliss's Less than zero, We are shown a very dark and less publicised side to 80's youth culture. When thinking of youth culture in the 80s the images that more readily come to mind are more innocent ones of Matthew Broderick and Michael J. Fox. However Eliss's novel suggests that it was a somewhat more corrupted generation. At the centre of all the sex and violence in the characters lives was their excessive drug use. The cocaine boom in 80s America made cocaine a very widely available and popular drug among the rich and famous.

With the sudden increased demand for cocaine in America many South American countries began producing and supplying through Florida to point at which it became many of the countries largest exports. By 1988 the Bolivian government estimated that cocaine exports brought in more money than all their legitimate exports combined. The drug was huge within the "yuppie" culture of the 80s and began to fuel many of Wall Streets business men and women. "A survey of drug abuse on Wall Street found that dealers were selling cocaine and other illicit drugs in 12 of 15 buildings in the financial district."

Inevitably, this popular new drug began to shape 80s youth culture, particularly the culture of rich kids, like those in the novel, with seemingly unlimited inherited money to burn on parties and drugs. While previous "hippie" generations had experimented with the softer psychedelic drugs like Marijuana and LSD, the 80s youth began to experiment with much harder substances, like cocaine and heroin, With the slightly later introduction of "crack" cocaine.

The development of music in the 80s was also to play to the advantage of cocaine. The beginning and rise in popularity of electronic music made stimulants like cocaine far more suited to the atmosphere of the generation's parties.

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