For the blog task this week I decided to look at how the novel Less Than Zero represented youth culture. Some of the main themes of youth culture in the novel were:
People just seemed to sleep with anyone who they liked and didn't really have a care about what they were doing.
Everyone seemed to have a drug dealer and high class drugs such as cocaine were easy to get a hold of, even if you didn't have the money to pay for it right away, there were ways around that.
Everyone who was not old enough to drink had a fake I.D. or another way of getting alcohol, drinking was a very big part of the youth culture in Less Than Zero.
Violence and abuse
There are patterns of abuse through out the novel, substance abuse, physical and sexual abuse and emotional abuse. The pimp would use emotional abuse and drug abuse to control Julian. Sexual abuse was present, particularly the rape of the 12 year old girl and it was spoken of as though they could do as they please because “If you want something you take it”.
The presence of relationships through out the book seemed to be meaningless and distant, in particularly family units, parents were not very supportive and kind of condoned the behaviour of their children (e.g. doing drugs and drinking under age) because they were doing it themselves. The families seemed very dysfunctional and there was not a great deal of caring for their children, e.g. Julian's Parents didn't care for him and another girl only knew where her parents were by reading magazines. There seemed to be a fear of loving someone and having them love you, because of the hurt it will later cause, which is without a doubt a consequence of having a weak family unit and always having parents to rely on.
The object of money never really seemed to be an issue, everyone had money to just throw away on drugs, alcohol, parties etc. and even when money was a issue, i.e. for Julian, he borrowed cash and paid off his debts in other ways.
No one really had a job or a career, most of the characters relied on their parents cash to get them by and even though most of them were in college they didn't seem that interested or focused on education, rather getting drunk and doing coke. When times got tough for Julian, to pay off his debts he became a prostitute, I guess this would have been less embarrassing than getting a job in a restaurant, somewhere where he would have been noticed as, he had to go out and work. He needed to keep up with the image and lifestyle he created so by being pimped out he was able to do that.
I feel like some of these issues still exist in society today and even if people dont have the exact same lifestyles then they may have elements that are similar but with the same effects on the individual and their life. I feel that in society today we have a drug culture (of marijuana) we have a drinking culture, we have violence and abuse whether we see or hear of it and there are elements of all of these factors outlined in Less Than Zero, if you look hard enough you will find what effects people in the same way these factors effect the characters in this novel.
I feel that Clay was a character who felt lost when he was home and had no other choice but to take drugs and drink and go to parties because that's the only lifestyle he has ever known in LA, that's what everyone does. I also feel that leaving to go back to school in New Hampshire was his escape, his way of leaving his past behind and trying to focus on finding a different, better life, however he will always end up back in LA because that's where his family is and that's where his friends are.