November 27, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 50  

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Generation Next... or is it Past?

By Maggie Wrobel
Gazette Staff

Each generation has its definitive moments and like it or not, these often arise in the realm of popular culture. Think of Woodstock, or The Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show — both are major milestones that people still reminisce about today.

One of our own definitive pop culture moments came a few years ago, when Pepsi commissioned the Spice Girls to write its marketing theme song, “Generation Next.” This campaign sold the idea of a “Pepsi Generation” to millions worldwide, but this wasn’t even the first time Pepsi had tried this approach! The Pepsi Generation ad campaign was born in the late 1960s and has been recycled every few years since then with a new trendy celebrity at the publicity helm each time.

Recycling seems to be a major trend nowadays. Pepsi recycles their own ads and we’ve (thankfully) learned to recycle their cans. But along with environmental recycling, our generation is also partial to pop culture recycling; namely of fashion and music trends.

For instance, right now, 1980s fashion is all the rage in stores, but we’ve already gone through the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and this decade has even already brought forth a redux of the grunge “fashion” of the ’90s. Are there no other truly original things that we can come up with? The only really new trend seems to be 12-year-old girls dressing like hoes on their weekend trips to the mall. What does this say about us as a generation?

Maybe we’re the Gap Generation. Cruising on the slogan “Everybody in... Gap,” the Gap has gained marketing ground by insisting that everyone needs to own the same items of clothing and young impressionable minds have followed suit. Each generation searches for original voices, but conformity has become the song our generation is determined to sing. The marketing industry owns our souls and is slowly selling them back to us, one Gap sweater at a time.

Are there relevant role models of the past that we can turn to? You can even look at traditionally seminal artists such as David Bowie and Madonna, who made careers out of reinventing themselves, but have gone sour in the ’00s, with Bowie soon to appear in a Tommy Hilfiger ad campaign and Madonna reinventing herself as a Gap-modelling cougar.

Thankfully, freshly-hatched superstars-in-the-making like Nelly Furtado draw from other cultures for inspiration and create music that’s fresh and real, and neo-hipster fashion designers like Imitation of Christ invert fashion recycling trends by turning thrift store items into brand new creations.

A world where a harmless teen like Avril Lavigne is marketed to represent punk and one-man corporation Sean “Puffy” Combs claims to have invented the remix is undoubtedly a very scary place to exist, but there’s hope for us yet, because it seems as though creativity is not yet completely dead.



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