Wednesday, February 1, 2012

'The Yuppie Handbook' - the importance of projecting an image.

First published in 1984, The Yuppie Handbook functions, as the tag line says, as a 'state-of-the-art manual' for anyone wishing to place themselves within the typical constraints of what it is to be a 'Yuppie.' The book, written as a rather tongue-in-cheek updated version of The Official Preppy Handbook (1980), highlights the developing trend of finding importance and significance in material possessions. Further to my first blog introducing this phenomenon, the point concerning outward signs of success is further emphasised here.

What are deemed to be "essential" items owned by the cartoon Yuppie couple are highlighted on the cover to highlight the aforementioned focus on the material. Such items that are labelled have been highlighted due to, either, the brand name to which they are attached (Rolex watch, Gucci briefcase, Burberry trenchcoat, Sony Walkman) or to further intimate the varied nature of activities undertaken by people living this lifestyle (running shoes, squash racket).

The presence of this book does appear to highlight an emerging trend heading in the direction of "fitting a mould." Somewhat of a checklist of accessories is provided, with the accompanying message seemingly akin to "if you buy this, this and this, you will happily fit into this specfied category." Individuality has taken a backseat. One of the chapters, for instance, offers advice on what names are suitable for a "Yuppie baby." As mentioned earlier this book is rather tongue-in-cheek. Nevertheless, it does hint at an emerging ideology of slotting into a pre-specified, at the least, "norm," but more likely a desired "elite."A focus on appearance is, evidently, emphasised with a distinct air of a "get rich quick" mindset. Outward signs of wealth and success - signs which have been specified (for instance, this brand belongs to a Yuppie, this one does not) - are now the focus. Even if one is only perceived to be successful, that is also deemed acceptable, indeed desired. As long as what is seen on the surface meets the expectations of what has been decided to equal "elite," you will be viewed as such. Greed and appearance seem to be focal points.

This, undoubtedly, raises questions concerning the sustainability of such a lifestyle, especially if one has had to make personal sacrfices to "tick the right boxes," or if one is merely trying to tick the boxes, with little accomplishment to back it up. The stock market crash, occuring in late-1987, had a shocking effect on the banking industry, thus hitting people in the "Yuppie bracket" extremely hard. It does seem that power and influence was the emerging desire. Having it all, as well as being able to do it all (or, at least faking the fact that you do and can) were seemingly viewed as of paramount importance. The reality behind the image may not have been so pretty.

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