Thoughts on my reaction to an American form of the “culture of sycophant’s” – the “yupi” (yuppie) movement and aspects about it

I was brought up in a society influenced by the “culture of sycophant’s” (see my article “More thoughts on the bourgeoisie mentality – the influence of the “culture of sychophant’s”“).  Over the years, its become clear that the sycophant lifestyle has had great impact on me, primarily because it was what I was living in, not that it had any appeal to me.  I began to feel that “something” was effecting me negatively early in life, though I did not know what it was.  After some odd decades, and much inquiry, it led me to the bourgeoisie and the “culture of sycophant’s” that I’ve written about in this blog.   I tend to believe that my involvement with this probably began in the early 1980’s, with the growing “yupi” mentality that was prevalent back then (I have also seen it spelled as “yuppie”).  Interestingly, I was never involved with the “yupi’s” and never knew what they were until later on, though I heard the name repetitively (almost always in a negative context).  But its mentality was big in the high school scene which made me exposed to it.  Unknowingly, I was somehow affected by it.

THE “YUPI”

I was told, once, that “yupi” meant Young Urban Professional Idiot.  Frankly, I think that is rather accurate (which is why I spell it that way).  When people spoke of a “yupi” it was almost always referring to a person that was often displaying qualities such as:

  • They were young, often in their twenties or thirties.
  • They had a high-paying job.
  • They had a lot of money (or pretended to, as I believe there were many pseudo-yupi’s).
  • They showed off their wealth.
  • They were preoccupied with social status.
  • They were generally University educated, often fashioning themselves as “intelligent”.
  • They were greedy.
  • They were materialistic.
  • They were shallow.
  • They catered to any weird, bizarre, and trivial fads that appealed to their whims.
  • They were selfish.
  • They often acted like children deep down, as if immature and ungrown, even though, outwardly, they acted mature.
  • They treated many of the things they bought as if they were children playing with toys.
  • They were snobbish, looking down on people who weren’t like them.
  • They had an attitude of elitism.
  • They had an attitude of entitlement.
  • They tended to overvalue themselves.
  • They were overly sure of themselves, often acting like they were the lords of the earth.
  • They tended to have little regard for others.
  • They treated their kids like show ponies, forcing them to be the way they wanted (see below).

As a result of these qualities, its not surprising that a lot of the negative statements I heard of the “yupi” was much like the condemnation toward rich snobbish people.  To me, many of these are qualities of the bourgeoisie mentality.

They reminded me of a bunch of people who were children of rich people, inheriting their parents fortune but with little respect for where it came from.  I do think there is truth to this as much of this generation were inheriting the economic security the people before them created.  As near as I can tell, none of them had any respect for that, or cared, but acted as if they were entitled to it, as if they were some “special” people deserving of it.

The Children of the “Yupi’s”

One of the things that appalled me about them is how they treated their kids.  They treated their kids like show ponies, an animal to be trained.  They “trained” their kids to reflect their ideals.  If they thought something would make their kids fit these ideals then they’d do it, however ridiculous, and it didn’t matter if the kid wanted to do it or not.  Here are a few examples:

  • I recall one instance where some study said that if you play Mozart while the mother is pregnant the child will have a higher IQ so all these pregnant “yupi” mothers-to-be were playing Mozart (some of us would joke, “that’s probably why we’re so screwed up . . . my mom used to listen to The Who and The Rolling Stones”).
  • They had all these “educational toys” (which were usually expensive) that was supposed to develop this or that quality in the kids (almost always, it had something to do with intelligence).  We used to joke about these toys, as they were so ridiculous.
  • I’ve heard of some that have their kids learning a second language before their 5 (what for?).  This became a joke for some of us (such as, “your five year old only knows two languages? . . . my four year old knows three!”).
  • They had to put their kids in these prestigious and, often, special schools whether they wanted to or not, usually in preparation for the University (I still jokingly call elementary school the “college preparatory academy”).
  • Of course, many parents expected their kids to go to Harvard or Yale or some highly esteemed place.

In general, they “trained” their show ponies . . . I mean, kids . . . to be successful according to the “yupi” image which usually meant an emphasis on “achievements” which include:

  • Intelligence and IQ.  This was, by far, the greatest emphasis.  Anything they thought would boost their kids IQ, they did.  And the kids had to go through extensive and, often, ridiculous schooling.  I watched many kids forced to have to “go to school” because their parents forced them to.  Nowadays, this is worse than it was in the 1980’s.
  • Sports.  I’ve seen many kids who were “forced to win” by their parents.
  • Various other “impressive” activities such as mountain climbing, traveling, etc.  Typically, these were things that were “out of the ordinary”.  Of course, if ordinary kids did it what would be the value of it to a “yupi”?

Of course, if any of these could be substantiated by some sort of document (like a degree) or award or trophy it made it any better . . . something concrete to brag about.

It seems that they were “training” their show ponies . . . I mean, kids . . . for two things:

  1. A high paying job.
  2. Social status.

These, really, are what the whole “yupi” lifestyle is all about and that is the lifestyle of the bourgeoisie.  These two qualities continues the ways of the bourgeoisie of several centuries ago, of the rich merchant class (with high paying jobs) who tried to imitate the nobility (social status). This, of course, means that the “yupi” is bourgeoisie.

As part of this mentality they forced their kids to reflect these values whether they wanted them to or not.  Its like they are forcing their kids into a mold.  I am particularly appalled by this in the newer “yupi’s” today, as they are worse than in the 1980’s.  I feel sorry for their kids.

The “Valley Girl”

A particular unique effect of the “yupi” mentality happened in the females in the early 1980’s.  It seems that it began about 1980 and ended in the mid 1980’s, so it didn’t last long, though it had reverberations after words.  They called it the “valley girl”.  I recall it was quite big and many girls were really “up” on it.  This was a particular mentality that was known particularly for a number of qualities:

  • Very specific mannerisms and body movements.
  • Very specific expressions (“oh my gosh!”, “gag me with a spoon”, etc.).
  • A unique way of talking (this was portrayed in a 1982 song called “valley Girl”).
  • An almost “airhead” quality.
  • A tendency to materialism.
  • A tendency to be self-pleasing.
  • They were not interested in success, sports, college, and such.

I’ve often saw this as the effects the “yupi” mentality had on younger girls.  More specifically, I always saw it as the effects of what the daughter of a “yupi” often turned out as, at least in the early years.  By the mid 1980’s it seems that all the children of the “yupi”, male and female, were forced to go to college, succeed, and so on by their parents.  This change may of destroyed the “valley girl”.

To me, one of the distinguishing qualities of the “valley girl” was a “mindless slavish imitation”.  Their whole life revolved around imitating trend, fashion, mannerisms, expressions, etc.  I seem to recall girls condemning girls (and often quite severely) because they didn’t get the expressions exactly right.  They’d use words like “that’s so last week” which, over time, become “that’s so five minutes ago”.  This, I think, shows its slavish quality to trend.  Its whole mentality reflects the sycophant way, of “sucking up” . . . in this case, to trend, mannerisms, and such.  Nowadays, the females are still doing that, but “sucking up” to something different . . . the bourgeoisie “yupi” ideals.  Haven’t you noticed that almost ALL the females have to go to college and succeed?  Isn’t that the “yupi” ideal?  Notice how some of them are practically killing themselves to attain it?  In actuality, the females are displaying the same “mindless slavish imitation” that the “valley girl” displayed.  The only difference is that they are imitating something different.  In this way, females are still “valley girls”.

The Young Male

For the younger male some common reactions to the “yupi” mentality include:

  • There was a sense of burden.  It was like a great burden was put on our shoulders.  We had the burden of expectation, the expectation of parents and society to succeed.  I recall this distinctly and grew to despise it.  I often wondered what the big deal was.
  • There developed a want-to-be attitude.  Many boys, for some reason or another, did not sense the burden but tried to pretend they fit the ideal.  They put forth no effort to pursue it.  They’d, for example, try to buy stuff that fit the image (expensive clothes, expensive cars, etc.), and fashion themselves as successful, but that was all.
  • A downtrodden attitude.  Many boys felt the burden, and knew they couldn’t live up to it.  This caused a downtrodden and depressive quality in these boys.  I think this greatly affected some boys
  • They “blanked it out” They just didn’t cater to it, which disappointed many parents.  In some cases, males would become rebellious and condemn aspects of it.

In short, the “yupi” mentality put a great pressure on the younger male, which is what I remember, and the boys reacted to that pressure in their own individual way.  My recollection is looking out to all of us boys and seeing this weird pressure placed on all of us that seemed to come from nowhere, which we didn’t understand, and which seemed to have no meaning.  A good example of this condition was portrayed in the 1985 movie “Real Genius”.  This is a show I always related to and identified with.  It shows how we were all “led on” to be Mr. University Student and Mr. Successful and ended up rebelling against it and even society.  In some ways, I would end up doing this . . .

THE “LURE” AND ITS FAILURE

I first began to feel the “lure” of this mentality with a weird need to have to “succeed in a particular way” which was primarily to be Mr. Successful Intellectual.  Of course, later this was supposed to lead me to the highly esteemed University and some spectacular high-paying and highly esteemed job.  This would make me an “admired” person.  I would then be “on the top”.  Looking back on it now that was basically what it amounted to and I now know that this is a big part of the “yupi” ideals, though I didn’t know it at the time.  The newer “yupi’s” of today are still reflecting those ideals but in, what appears to me, a worse and more severe way.

As I look on it now I can see some stages in how I reacted to it:

  1. I felt the “lure” of the image and sought it out.  I became Mr. Intellectual and fantasized about being some fantastic intellectual with a high-paying job and that I would be “esteemed”.
  2. I began to feel what I’d call an empty desperation.  Something seemed “wrong”.  It felt, to me, as if I was climbing a hill of sand.  Every time I went up 2 steps I slipped down 3 steps.
  3. I began to feel undermined as a person.  I seemed “small” and insignificant.
  4. It seemed that everything became empty and meaningless.
  5. “Something” made me rebel against it.  I dropped out of the University and abandoned it all.  I then began to question it.

All this took place in a space of probably 6 years (say, 1983 to 1989).  The rebellion as if woke me up to the reality of how society effects us and its power.  I’ve been questioning society ever since.  More importantly, I would discover that it reveals the basic failure of the “culture of sycophant’s”, and bourgeoisie mentality, and how its empty and undermines the person (which I described in the article linked above).  Through its failure I saw its emptiness, and I became smaller and smaller as a person.  In short, I became a “minion to the yupi image” and, in so doing, I as if lost my humanity.  All this went on without my being aware of it . . .

THE WEIRD “SOCIAL PULL”

What most bothered me about this was its weird “social pull”.  Looking back on it now I could see how society had this “power” over me that, basically, turned me into its puppet.  I as if did whatever it said without questioning it or even knowing it.  I just did it.  Its like I was blind.  This has always bothered me ever since as “I was not in control”.  More importantly, it was dictating how I was living my life and determining what I was going to be doing with my life.  In effect, the weird “social pull” was controlling my life.  That’s not something to look at lightly.  I feel that this weird “social pull” is a big part of the “culture of sycophant’s” and one of the reasons why its so powerful and addictive.  

For me, I tend to feel that this “pull” reflects a number of things, such as:

  • The need for a “tribal sense”, a sense of being part of a people or tribe.
  • The security of society.
  • The security of approval.
  • Its based on already existing established cultural qualities.
  • It replaces a failed belief system (Christianity) and culture (American society).
  • The effect of living in a media-based society, which makes us “susceptible to suggestion”, so to speak.
  • The effect of mass mentality, which makes us “tend to blindly follow”.
  • Its quality of need and desperation, which gave it an quality of movement or action.

I could narrow these down to three qualities:

  1. There was an “active” and “happening” quality to it.  It wasn’t that it really meant something but it seemed to be “moving”.  The alternate to this way seemed “stagnate”.  This means that part of its “pull” was its “active” quality.
  2. The social sense it contained made me feel protected and secure, as if under a big wing of a bird.
  3. Predispositions to “suggestion” (particularly media and mass society).  This made it easier for us to “follow” blindly, mindlessly, and without thought.

These gave it a quality much like the Pied Piper, it just “led us away” and we followed wherever it went.  I can still see its effects on people today.  I would even go on to say that the “pull” is so strong that many people have become slaves to it and must follow it regardless of what it does to them.  My observation is that the worst slaves are the females, some of which are being destroyed by it.  I can see its effects in many people, such as:

  • An unhappiness that they don’t understand.
  • An emptiness.
  • A depression.
  • A feeling of being alienated.
  • A sense of desperation.
  • A feeling that there is a “great burden” . . . perhaps a sense of exhaustion.

In short, the “pull” deceives us . . . it draws us into something that actually undermines us.  But since we’re “drawn in” we don’t think its the thing that’s undermining us.  Even for me, it took me a while to figure it out, that the thing that I thought was helping me was actually going against me.

THE “YUPI” (YUPPIE) MOVEMENT

In my opinion, the “yupi” was more than just a group of people.  It reflected a general cultural character that continues to this day.  It is founded on bourgeoisie mentality and the “culture of sycophant’s” which have been in Western European society for centuries.  In this way, it is nothing new but, rather, a continuation of something already existing.  Conditions, though, have given it some different qualities that set it apart from previous forms.  Because of this, I call it the “yupi” movement.  This is basically a recent American version of the “culture of sycophant’s” and bourgeoisie mentality.  The actual “yupi” character is just the more obvious manifestation of this movement.  In reality, its mentality is seen throughout American society, in varying degree’s and forms.

I can see several events since the 1980’s that have given it unique qualities:

  • The end of the cold war, and the sense of victory that followed in the 1990’s, caused an increase in the “yupi” movement and its mentality overall.  A significant effect of this was that kids, overall, were being treated more like show ponies, being forced to go to college, to succeed, etc.  I noticed this getting particularly bad in the early 1990’s.
  •  The coming of the “digital revolution” (the personal computer, internet, etc.), in the late 1990’s, catered to the “sense of self-importance” of this movement.  It created an arrogance that persists to this day.
  • The social media craze, beginning in the early 2000’s, caused a sense of unity and cause that is somewhat shallow.   In other words, they have a sense of unity based primarily in the virtual world (such as social media), not in the real world human-to-human relationship.

As a result, the “yupi”, nowadays, is a person who has qualities, in addition to the ones described above, such as:

  • They can be middle aged.
  • They cater to the latest technology and think that it is the greatest thing since canned fruit.
  • They think that they are great because they have the latest technology, as if it makes them superior in some way.
  • They think that the success of technology reflects themselves as people.
  • They treat their kids like show ponies worse than before, forcing their kids to do things (such as having to succeed, go to college, or do sports).
  • They tend to treat people like machines.
  • They often think they are united and have a cause when there really is none.
  • They are susceptible to fads, manias, crazes, and such, often believing everything they hear (that is, there is a lack of common sense).

There are, of course, gradations.  Some people really reflect its mentality, other people only minimally or not at all.  But the mentality is very prevalent, a lot more than I previously thought.  I would even say that the “yupi” movement has become a significant trait in 21st century American society.  As I said above, the “yupi” movement is just a new form of the “culture of sycophant’s”, of the bourgeoisie mentality, which is really nothing but a “play acting of the aristocracy” by the common people, of people pretending that they are important when they really aren’t.  The new conditions of today, and the new gadgets, have intensified this mentality as well as giving it a new form.  I would even venture to say that a great deal of the younger people in the U.S. (at least, that I have seen) have made sycophancy a way of life.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

This entry was posted in Historical stuff, Modern life and society, The U.S. and American society, Victorianism, Bourgeoisie, noble imitation, and sycophancy and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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