Feathered hair, a water fountain, a drapey pink dress, a really big piece of modern wall art and a revolving door that just won’t stop all highlight this clip set to David Foster’s emotionally-charged soundtrack. Cue saxophone, then read below for more yuppie news…
Oh those ‘80s yuppies! Maybe you were a young upwardly-mobile professional in those days or perhaps you just like watching movies about them. Either way, this post is for you…
I’ll start by saying I’m a big fan of William J. Palmer’s book The Films of the Eighties: A Social History. Interesting, informative, and fun to read, it chronicles ‘80s film genres, such as the Vietnam War films, the nuclear war films and the topic of today’s entry: the yuppie films!
Climbing the corporate ladder was the dream of many young professionals in the 1980s. Was it simply greed? Palmer doesn’t think so. He notes that “Eighties yuppies saw their ruthless competitive work ethic and their consumptive materialism as hedges and buffers against an increasingly unstable terrorist- and nuclear- and deficit-threatened world.” Yep, there’s more to these attractive promotion-seekers than meets the eye…
On a lighter note, today’s Movie Moment is brought to you by The Secret of My Success, which gives a screwball comedy twist to the corporate ladder climb.
You know who was stellar at playing the likable ‘80s professional? Michael J. Fox! Whether perfectly portraying business-minded Alex P. Keaton on the sitcom Family Ties or carting naïve ambition to the New York City corporate world in The Secret of My Success, Fox has a wonderful energy and comic timing that is perfect for conveying yuppie angst.
In The Films of the Eighties, William J. Palmer writes that the film’s plot “chronicles the step-by-step acquiring of the yuppie uniform—business degree, three-piece suit, executive position in the corporation, corner office with secretary, boss’s wife and mistress, finally the corporation itself—by its ‘yupwardly’ bound young protagonist.”
The clip at the top of this post plays like a primer on ’80s dramatic moments. Lots of hairspray, lots of staring, lots of saxophone (a la David Foster’s score). Plus a romantic lead that can consume water from a fountain without moving her lips. We love you, Helen Slater. A bit of ’80s office glam, capped off by some nice sunrise shots of the New York City skyline. Enjoy!
The Yuppie Downfall
The price of success sometimes has a dark side, as shown in the film Bright Lights, Big City (also starring Michael J. Fox) based on Jay McInerney’s best-selling novel of the same title.
Once again, William J. Palmer shares his expertise, calling the film “a sewer guide to the underside of the yuppie American dream. Almost clinically it dissects the angst attached to the eighties. Lust for money, fame, social acceptance; how the yuppie’s social struggle, because it pursues purely material goals, causes a gradual disintegration, or at least disorientation, of the existential self.”
Look for a future blog post on this novel and film…
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