One of the ‘truisms’ of pop culture that I grew up accepting was that pop culture fashion reemerges every 20 years. Not that I analysed it or researched it, I just accepted it. One of the reasons could be that, the soundtrack to my growing up years in the 1990s was dominated by bands such as Led Zeppelin who dominated the airwaves in the 1970s. Followed by the sound of grunge music, which again, can be said to be a reinterpretation of the generally angry and pessimistic decade that followed the glorious 60s.
I dropped out of the pop culture bandwagon soon afterwards, when my taste in music settled into the classic rock of the 60’s and 70’s. But I just hung on to this belief as just something that pops out of my consciousness and goes back again.
Finally, today, I decided to do some research into this. Not a lot, just some casual search online (on a Search Engine that was getting popular 20 years ago). And, not really surprisingly, found that there is no real consensus on this topic. This article, one of the first I came across, perfectly encapsulates this uncertainty.
Digging further, another article confidently put it down as 30 years, backing it up with some interesting analysis. But hold on, it’s not 30, but 40, states this article with references to ‘Mad Men’ and other examples.
One thing of which there can be no doubt is that we are now living in the Digital Age. With attention spans getting shorter and shorter, this article puts out an interesting hypothesis. The age of 20 year cycles might be over, to be replaced by shorter, possibly 10 year cycles.
So what started out just as an exercise in curiosity turned into something more thought-provoking? Will the 20 (or 30, or 40) year cycle continue to hold true for future generations? Or would the rapid and on-going lifestyle changes, driven by the digital revolution, mean that cultural trends are going to be more unpredictable going forward? Just another of the glorious uncertainties of this Information Age that we are fortunate to be living in!