In a nutshell, significant numbers of young people, mainly in Los Angeles and New York, have come up in a popular culture that refines the art of self-referentiality to a razor’s edge. The leisure these people have on their hands results from a post-industrial work schedule and a post-modern disinterest in and freedom from politics. Part of virtuoso self-referentiality is an emphasis on the malleability and the performance of sexual identity. A habit of mass therapy has developed where everyone is each other’s — and their own — therapist; publicizing intimacy and sharing what used to always be private is the rule.
Is there any wonder why smart young people tend to become cynical? They can’t escape artificiality, even when it claims to be “authentic” (this is the lurking problem behind my qualms with Rudy Giuliani).