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Consuming Youth

Vampires, Cyborgs, and the Culture of Consumption

Consuming Youth

Vampires, Cyborgs, and the Culture of Consumption

From the novels of Anne Rice to The Lost Boys, from The Terminator to cyberpunk science fiction, vampires and cyborgs have become strikingly visible figures within American popular culture, especially youth culture. In Consuming Youth, Rob Latham explains why, showing how fiction, film, and other media deploy these ambiguous monsters to embody and work through the implications of a capitalist system in which youth both consume and are consumed.

Inspired by Marx’s use of the cyborg vampire as a metaphor for the objectification of physical labor in the factory, Latham shows how contemporary images of vampires and cyborgs illuminate the contradictory processes of empowerment and exploitation that characterize the youth-consumer system. While the vampire is a voracious consumer driven by a hunger for perpetual youth, the cyborg has incorporated the machineries of consumption into its own flesh. Powerful fusions of technology and desire, these paired images symbolize the forms of labor and leisure that American society has staked out for contemporary youth.

A startling look at youth in our time, Consuming Youth will interest anyone concerned with film, television, and popular culture.

336 pages | 11 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2002

Cognitive Science: General Works

Economics and Business: Economics--General Theory and Principles

Film Studies

Sociology: Sociology of Arts--Leisure, Sports


“The value Latham’s study provides . . . lies in his resolutely rational voice in a field that often provokes hysteria, and his insistence on placing these over-theorized . . . icons of popular culture in a social and economic context. . . . Vampires and cyborgs, the undead and the human machine, are not as far apart as their temporal locations in Gothic past and Science Fiction future might indicate. They share the same logic: figures who consume, serially offered up for our eager consumption.”

Catherine Spooner | MLR

Consuming Youth is a near-encyclopedic work. Latham’s nuanced readings connect vampires, with their associations of exploitation, blood-sucking, and undead existence, to cyborgs, who like vampires deconstruct the normal behaviors of the autonomous subject through the joining of human and machine. This important book will make a valuable contribution to cultural studies, contemporary literary theory, and neo-Marxist criticism in general.”

N. Katherine Hayles, author of How We Became Posthuman

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
The Cybernetic Vampire of Consumer
Youth Culture
The Factory of the Code
Fordism, Post-Fordism, and Youth
Consuming Youth
Youth Fetishism: The Lost Boys
Cruise Mallworld
The Dual Metaphorics of Consumer Vampirism
The Trauma of Consumption
Vidkids Go Malling
Teen Idols, Fashion Victims, and Proletarian Shoppers
Dreams of Social Flying: The Yuppie-Slacker
Morbid Economies
The Phenomenology of Unbridled Consumption
Punk Nihilists and Donner Party Barbies
Voracious Androgynes: The Vampire
Lestat on MTV
Insatiable Narcissism
The Consuming Hungers of Ziggy Stardust
Two Queer Nations
Microserfing the Third Wave: The Dark Side
of the Sunrise Industries
Postindustrialism and “Flexible” Capitalism
Homebrews and Burnouts in Silicon Valley
Modular Selves and Posthuman Consumers
Fast Sofas and Cyborg Couch Potatoes:
Generation X on the Infobahn
Couch Commandos versus Zombie Systems
Bar-Coding Digital Youth
On the Road and On the Screen
Information Road Narratives
Teenage Mutant Cyborg Vampires:
Consumption As Prosthesis
Hacking the Codez of Digital Capitalism
Cyberpunks and Technopagans
Live-Wired Teen Idols and Pretty Boy Crossovers
Decadent Utopias of Hyperconsumerism

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