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Home > Culture and Society

Generation Jones: a trend too far?

26 November 2004

Aargh! The trendspotters have been at work again this week, inventing the 'Joneses', another bogus social group that's about as convincing as 'Shrinkies' (40-somethings who are in a state of perpetual psychological crisis because you don't get Shrinky Dinks based on Disney's The Black Hole in breakfast cereal any more.)

The Joneses' name derives not from 'keeping up with the Joneses' or the Bridget Jones phenomenon, but from an American slang term for 'yearning' which we've patently failed to hear of. Needless to say, this didn't stop every fuckwitted UK newspaper illustrating the Joneses story with a picture of Renee Zellweger and Hugh Grant, an act so breathtakingly simple-minded it's akin to illustrating a story about Britney Spears with a picture of Zulu warriors.

Anyway, the Joneses, as invented by 'media group' Carat, are the generation that's aged between 39 and 50 (at least they're specific) and which has made an art of conspicuous consumption. Ah yes, unlike all those people who are younger than 39 or older than 50 and who NEVER use credit cards or spend money on luxuries like holidays.

The more you learn about Carat's definition of the Joneses, the more you want to see these parasitic media 'analyst' whores put against a wall and shot. Joneses, we are reliably informed, 'are influenced by television, films, music and world events which took place during their formative years'. Good god, what sort of bold new socio-psychological theory is being proposed here? It overturns every conventional notion about psychology and the working of the human mind! So they're saying that people may be INFLUENCED IN SOME WAY by what they saw when they were GROWING UP? It's time to rewrite the textbooks!

Needless to say, the bollocks doesn't end here. The Joneses have a genuinely baffling set of cultural reference points, which is probably less due to the confusing postmodern world that they inhabit, and more likely the result of shoddy research by some 25-year-old shit-for-brains at Carat.

Joneses, we are told, became politically aware against a backdrop of the moon landings and the Thatcher years.

What the fuck does this mean? Quite apart from being separated by a decade, the moon landings and Thatcherism are two wholly different things. You might as well say that the Joneses became politically aware against a backdrop of Black September and Smash. Or Cannon and Ball and Jim Callaghan. What does this
actually MEAN?

If one thing distinguishes the Joneses from other creations like Gen-X, it's the sheer randomness of 'their' tastes. They love The Great Gatsby and The Waltons, Carat tells us. They love films like The Godfather and celebrities like Stephen Fry. They like William Hague and they remember the first Sex Pistols gigs.

If you're anything like us, you're probably wondering 'So who the hell ARE the Joneses? I can't visualise them... I don't know anyone like that... who are they?' But the Joneses exist all right, if only as the ill-thought-out fantasy of some bunch of Soho-based trendspotters. Still, it's good to know that a list of largely random qualities enables you to create a cultural phenomenon.

Next week: TFT reveals the Smithses, the 30-34.5-years-old demographic that just LOVED Star Wars but who don't want to settle down just yet!



Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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