Eddies in the mainstream

How cold is it in Montreal? It’s so cold many of us will not survive the night. This may be my last journal entry.

A couple of weeks ago (see entry for Oct. 3), I was surprised to learn from Entertainment Weekly that Vin Diesel was being heralded as the new action star to some extent because, as an Hollywood agent put it, “there’s a shortage of action stars in Hollywood.”

Then a couple days ago, a NYT article by Cathy Horyn called “Young Stars of U.S. Fashion Can’t Seem to Find Right Fit.” (December 7, 2002). The title of the article is misleading because the gist of the piece is that there is now a shortage of young fashion designers.

“Since 1998, when Isaac Mizrahi closed his doors, a succession of promising stars have gone out of business – Daryl Kerrigan, Pamela Dennis, Todd Oldham and last month, Mr. Bartlett, who in 1997 was the industry’s top men’s wear designer.”

A shortage of action stars and fashion designers? Is this the historical outcome of the great exclusion that happened in the very late 80s? People raised with Michael J. Fox expectations (Beemers, law school, yuppie riches) found themselves shut out. It wasn’t really until the dot.com thing got rolling in the mid late middle 1990s, that they were let back in…and nothing in this new regime encouraged people to think about action adventure or clothing design.

It’s 12 years later. Hollywood and the design world look for the next generation…and parts of it are missing. Some of this is the work of exclusion. But some of it is the result of refusal. The alternative values of the 1990s scorned action stars and fashion design, one for its preposterous gender constructions, the other for its self aggrandizing vanity. And some of it was both: those who learned to disdain action and fashion were disinclined to enter it.

But the larger question: is there a hole in the demography? Are parts of Gen X still missing?