The Conquest of Cool: Business Culture, Counterculture, and the Rise of Hip Consumerism

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9780226260129: The Conquest of Cool: Business Culture, Counterculture, and the Rise of Hip Consumerism
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While the youth counterculture remains the most evocative and best-remembered symbol of the cultural ferment of the 1960s, the revolution that shook American business during those boom years has gone largely unremarked. In this fascinating and revealing study, Thomas Frank shows how the youthful revolutionaries were joined—and even anticipated —by such unlikely allies as the advertising industry and the men's clothing business.

"[Thomas Frank is] perhaps the most provocative young cultural critic of the moment."—Gerald Marzorati, New York Times Book Review

"An indispensable survival guide for any modern consumer."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Frank makes an ironclad case not only that the advertising industry cunningly turned the countercultural rhetoric of revolution into a rallying cry to buy more stuff, but that the process itself actually predated any actual counterculture to exploit."—Geoff Pevere, Toronto Globe and Mail

"The Conquest of Cool helps us understand why, throughout the last third of the twentieth century, Americans have increasingly confused gentility with conformity, irony with protest, and an extended middle finger with a populist manifesto. . . . His voice is an exciting addition to the soporific public discourse of the late twentieth century."—T. J. Jackson Lears, In These Times

"An invaluable argument for anyone who has ever scoffed at hand-me-down counterculture from the '60s. A spirited and exhaustive analysis of the era's advertising."—Brad Wieners, Wired Magazine

"Tom Frank is . . . not only old-fashioned, he's anti-fashion, with a place in his heart for that ultimate social faux pas, leftist politics."—Roger Trilling, Details

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In his book-length essay The Conquest of Cool, Thomas Frank explores the ways in which Madison Avenue co-opted the language of youthful '60s rebellion. It is "the story," Frank writes, "of the bohemian cultural style's trajectory from adversarial to hegemonic; the story of hip's mutation from native language of the alienated to that of advertising." This appropriation had wide-ranging consequences that deeply transformed our culture--consequences that linger in the form of '90s "hip consumerism." (Think of Nike using the song "Revolution" to sell sneakers, or Coca-Cola using replicas of Ken Kesey's bus to peddle Fruitopia.)

This is no simplistic analysis of how the counterculture "sold out" to big business. Instead, Frank shows how the counterculture and business culture influenced one another. In fact, he writes, the counterculture's critique of mass society mimicked earlier developments in business itself, when a new generation of executives attacked the stultified, hierarchical nature of corporate life. Counterculture and business culture evolved together over time--until the present day, when they have become essentially the same thing. According to Frank, the '60s live on in the near-archetypal dichotomy of "hip" and "square," now part of advertising vernacular, signifying a choice between consumer styles.

From the Back Cover:

While the youth counterculture remains the most evocative and best-remembered symbol of the cultural ferment of the 1960s, the revolution that shook American business during those boom years has gone largely unremarked. In this fascinating and revealing new study, Thomas Frank shows how the youthful revolutionaries were joined - and even anticipated by - such unlikely allies as the advertising industry and the men's clothing business. In both areas, each having also been an important pillar of fifties conservatism, the utopian, complacent surface of postwar consumerism was smashed by a new breed of admen and manufacturers who openly addressed public distrust of their industries, who recognized the absurdity of consumer society, who made war on conformity, and who finally settled on youth rebellion and counterculture as the symbol of choice for their new marketing vision. The Conquest of Cool is a thorough history of advertising as well as an incisive commentary on the evolution of a peculiarly American sensibility, the pervasive co-optation that defines today's hip commercial culture. By studying the devices and institutions of co-optation rather than those of resistance, Frank offers a picture of the 1960s that differs dramatically from the accounts of youth rebellion and sell-out that have become so familiar over the years. The Conquest of Cool forsakes the stories of campus and bohemia to follow the Dodge Rebellion, chronicle the Pepsi Generation, and recount the Peacock Revolution - by so doing, it raises important new questions about the culture of that most celebrated and maligned decade.

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 1998. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. An evocative symbol of the 1960s was its youth counterculture. This study reveals that the youthful revolutionaries were augmented by such unlikely allies as the advertising industry and the men s clothing business. The ad industry celebrated irrepressible youth and promoted defiance and revolt. In the 1950s, Madison Avenue deluged the country with images of junior executives, happy housewives and idealized families in tail-finned American cars. But the author of this study seeks to show how, during the creative revolution of the 60s, the ad industry turned savagely on the very icons it had created, using brands as signifiers of rule-breaking, defiance, difference and revolt. Even the menswear industry, formerly makers of staid, unchanging garments, ridiculed its own traditions as remnants of intolerable conformity, and discovered youth insurgency as an ideal symbol for its colourful new fashions. Thus emerged the strategy of co-opting dissident style which is so commonplace in modern hip, commercial culture. This text aims to add detail to a period in the 60s which has hitherto remained unresearched. Seller Inventory # AAS9780226260129

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 1998. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. An evocative symbol of the 1960s was its youth counterculture. This study reveals that the youthful revolutionaries were augmented by such unlikely allies as the advertising industry and the men s clothing business. The ad industry celebrated irrepressible youth and promoted defiance and revolt. In the 1950s, Madison Avenue deluged the country with images of junior executives, happy housewives and idealized families in tail-finned American cars. But the author of this study seeks to show how, during the creative revolution of the 60s, the ad industry turned savagely on the very icons it had created, using brands as signifiers of rule-breaking, defiance, difference and revolt. Even the menswear industry, formerly makers of staid, unchanging garments, ridiculed its own traditions as remnants of intolerable conformity, and discovered youth insurgency as an ideal symbol for its colourful new fashions. Thus emerged the strategy of co-opting dissident style which is so commonplace in modern hip, commercial culture. This text aims to add detail to a period in the 60s which has hitherto remained unresearched. Seller Inventory # AAS9780226260129

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