Rejuvenile: Kickball, Cartoons, Cupcakes and the Reinvention of the American Grown-Up
Rejuvenile is a sympathetic yet probing look at new breed of playful adult that is redefining maturity in the twenty-first century—and fast becoming a lucrative market for forward-thinking corporations.
Why are more adults delaying marriage and parenthood? How is it that DisneyWorld is now the world’s top vacation destination for adults? Can it be true that the average age of video game players is twenty-nine and rising? Why is Hollywood overtly marketing childhood fairytales to adults?
Challenging the notion that one’s age should dictate one’s activities and mind-set, Rejuvenile explores the world of adults who compete in spelling bees, working professionals who play “all-ages tag,” mothers who learn skateboarding to be closer to their teenage sons, grown-ups who dress and party like they did in high school, and couples who visit a Disney park once a month (without the kids).
Identifying the demographic forces shaping this phenomenon, Noxon describes how rejuveniles are forcing marketers and social scientists to rethink canonical rules of their business. Citing companies that are now repackaging and redesigning their products for this new target market, Rejuvenile examines the “toyification” of consumer goods and shows how CEOs are investing millions of dollars to release, for example, new Strawberry Shortcake dolls, Ferarri Barbies, and Executive Set Sea Monkeys.
Noxon’s thought-provoking analysis of rejuvenile parents and their effect on the family offers a contrary take on traditional methods of parenting. Through extensive interviews and a survey of research on family dynamics, Noxon argues that the men and women he calls Playalong Parents forge stronger bonds with children and enhance their authority.
Noxon also considers the arguments of the “Harrumphing Codgers”—social critics who see the rejuvenile as a threat to social order—but he ultimately believes that rejuveniles’ refusal to give up cherished qualities of childhood has bettered themselves and the world. True play, he argues—as ridiculous and meaningless as it might appear—is a way of reconnecting with a basic part of ourselves and tapping into our creativity. Rejuvenile is a fascinating look at a shift that is causing a profound cultural change, arguably for the better.
For excerpts, interviews and additional material, see the Rejuvenile website.