Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers

By Alissa Quart. | Current Affairs. $25.

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A high schooler wears a Pepsi shirt to school on Coca-Cola day and gets suspended for insurrection. A sixth-grader covets a $500 Kate Spade bag, only to toss it a year later. A family drops $1,400 a day to take an sat tutor along on vacation. These dispatches from a label-obsessed adolescence come courtesy of Alissa Quart, whose new book, Branded, plumbs the depths of contemporary marketing to teens.

In Quart’s view, youthful consumerism doesn’t end at the mall but extends to “self-branding,” as teens burnish their exterior selves and extracurricular credentials in pursuit of social success and admission to a name-brand college. Quart haunts video arcades, chat rooms, and malls, and interviews middle schoolers consulting for Teen People — whose executives lap up the students’ insights on angora and advertising copy.

Quart wants to prove that today’s “branded” teens are a new breed, but her argument overreaches. In particular, she censures the label-mindedness of flicks like Clueless while missing their blatantly satirical bent. After all, Clueless is inspired by Emma, Jane Austen’s classic indictment of vanity that still resonates today — with nary a reference to trend-spotters, brand managers, or marketing directors.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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