Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wall Street Yuppies

My blog this week is not directly about the 1987 film Wall Street but rather what the film represents. The iconic image of Michael Douglas sneering over Charlie Sheen's shoulder can be compared to those in power in New York City's financial district who pulled the puppet strings of those struggling to break through in such a competitive market. Young Urban Professionals or 'Yuppies' as they are more commonly known were an 80's phenomenon and referred to those people (usually men) in their 20s and 30s who were characteristically in a professional career and abused their position and income as such that they began to garner a reputation in American culture. This was apparent in the early 80s, but when the stock market crashed in 1987 the term 'Yuppie' died out with their frivolous spending. Patrick Bateman, the main protagonist in 'American Psycho', another of Brett Easton Ellis's great novels, was also a 'Yuppie', thus cementing it's place in 1980s American Culture. The term even managed to find it's way across the pond and influenced one of Britain's greatest TV sitcoms, Only Fools and Horses. Del Boy famously dons his 'D' pendant on the gold chain around his neck and wears his camel skin coat around his shoulders on top of his 3-piece suit whilst splashing the cash (albeit cash he didn't actually have). But the most likely place to find a 'Yuppie' would be in New York City, and more likely on Wall Street.

So why is the Yuppie such a significant part of 80s American culture and why do we reminisce and laugh today? Schadenfreude, that's why. Laughing at how the mighty have fallen. Just like Gordon Gekko, who started out as top dog, his scheming ways caught up with him and he was locked up on a fraud charge. Not surprisingly, a lot of seemingly legitimate businessman were found guilty of embezzlement and money laundering, rendering some peoples vision of a 'Yuppie' as nothing but a no good crook. It would explain the lifestyles they had....

But now, the Yuppie era is dead, never to be revived. The clothes, the cars, the labels, the huge amounts of money, the snobbery...if we learnt anything from the 80s, it's that the higher you build yourself up, the harder you fall. The 1987 stock market crash was swiftly followed by a devastating recession in the early 1990s which we managed to recover from and we vowed never to spend again like we did in the 80s...if only that were true.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.