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The Explorer


task to figure out who they are and what they want to do. Whatever fashions they adopt (long hair and tight jeans in the sixties; body piercing and loose jeans in the nineties) are chosen because they confront the older generation’s sense of propriety and establish the younger generation’s personal style. All products, of course, that help them do so will prosper. Folk and rock music did this in the 1960s; rap music and MTV do today. The Explorer identifies with the Outsider. This explains why adolescent styles of the 1960s were influenced by American Indians— headbands, for instance—and why teenagers in affluent suburban neighborhoods were quick to jump on the bandwagon in the 1990s when inner-city kids started wearing baggy pants. Brands that are attentive to the Outsider influence on the fashion of the young also subtly—and largely unconsciously—help to integrate outsider values and manners into mainstream culture, and vice versa. While Anglo kids in affluent suburbs were beginning to wear high tops and low-slung baggy pants, preppy Tommy Hilfiger clothes were catching on like wildfire in the inner cities, as each group of teens integrated the sensibility of the “outside” culture into their own lives. Although most of us share a concern about the number of young people who are taking up smoking, it is still a sign of the power of the Explorer archetype that Virginia Slims has been so successful with the slogan “Find Your Own Voice.” Unfortunately, it is the very need to identify with the countercultural message that makes it difficult for young people to sort out the difference between harmful products and benign outsider brands. For many young people, the Explorer archetype is associated with the experience of leaving home and going off to college. However, some students are more influenced by the individualistic Explorer than others. Certain colleges vigorously promote themselves as Explorer brands—most notably Goddard, Hampshire, and Antioch, all of which allow students to structure their own majors. The catalogues of these schools emphasize the enormous freedom available to students to forge their own paths. The other stage in life during which the Explorer becomes powerfully reactivated is middle age. In story or fact, the Explorer may literally take off. (See, for example, Ann Tyler’s Ladder of Years, in which a restless middle-aged wife and mother goes for a walk on the

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype  

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype