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The Conquest of Cool: Business Culture, Counterculture, and the Rise of Hip Consumerism (9780226260129): Thomas Frank: Books. In his book-length essay The Conquest of Cool, Thomas Frank explores the ways in which Madison Avenue co-opted the language of youthful '60s rebellion. It is the story, Frank writes, of the bohemian cultural style's trajectory from adversarial to hegemonic; the story of hip's mutation from native language of the alienated to that of advertising. This appropriation had wide-ranging consequences that deeply transformed our culture--consequences that linger in the form of '90s hip consumerism. (Think of Nike using the song Revolution to sell sneakers, or Coca-Cola using replicas of Ken Kesey's bus to peddle Fruitopia.) This is no simplistic analysis of how the counterculture sold out to big business. Instead, Frank shows how the counterculture and business culture influenced one another. In fact, he writes, the counterculture's critique of mass society mimicked earlier developments in business itself, when a new generation of executives attacked the stultified, hierarchical nature of corporate life. Counterculture and business culture evolved together over time--until the present day, when they have become essentially the same thing. According to Frank, the '60s live on in the near-archetypal dichotomy of hip and square, now part of advertising vernacular, signifying a choice between consumer styles.
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