Why America’s good at selling adolescence

Now that marketing consultant (and psychoanalyst) Clotaire Rapaille has “fit [me] with a new pair of glasses,” as promised in his new book, The Culture Code, I finally understand why Americans like peanut butter: It’s stuck to our cultural unconscious. And our cultural unconscious, it seems, is stuck in puberty. So our only prayer of ever getting unstuck is swilling enough champagne in the coming millennium to grow up to be like the French. In the meantime, we just keep on loving “weird and successful” Tom Cruise and make do with our “dramatic mood swings.” Zut, if only we’d “killed a king,” we could’ve gotten past our rebellious phase and turned out a world-class composer. But we botched it, and now it’s acne and inebriation all the way. That’s why, Rapaille concludes, we’re “so successful around the world selling the trappings of adolescence: Coca-Cola, Nike shoes, blue jeans and loud, violent movies.” But I have une petite question for Monsieur Rapaille. If the rest of the world doesn’t share our cultural unconscious, why do they buy our youthful toys?

—Posted by Laura Blum