Why “Youth” is an Outdated Myth

Ah, the “Baby Boomers”… most likely a term that you haven’t heard since history class in high school. This term is used to describe the children born after WWII, but it can also be used in a cultural context. At the start of the ‘60s, these boomers were reaching their teenage years, and started changing our culture as we know it. The vast number of the boomers, and their ability to start spending money, made them the new focus of companies who started advertising nearly everything from soft drinks to cars to music towards them, creating what we now call “youth culture”. But as these boomers are now starting to retire, has America’s obsession with youth culture finally come to an end?

In the article, “Why Youth is an Outdated Myth”, Ted Polhemus challenges the idea that marketing to youth (via the youth culture tactics that worked back in the ‘60s) is working; rather, there has been a decrease in the amount of teenagers in the Western world, so wouldn’t it make more sense to market towards the older adult populations rather than the decreasing young adult populations? He points out that the people that question whether marketing towards younger generations works are, in fact, the young. He says that companies that market products towards the “young” are actually irritating and putting off the target market rather than making things appealing. It is the older “Boomer” generation that refuses to accept their age and still considers themselves young that actually buy the products that are being marketed. 

In the United States, our obsession with age and growing up is actually not one of teenagers and young adults, but one of the population that started the movement of being “young and carefree”.