Dilbert, Elmo and the Macarena Fads of '96: These unpredictable, unlikely meteors are among the ties that bind.

December 28, 1996

WHAT IF someone could predict for you the fads of '97? What will be the next dance craze; the next must-have toy; the movie or record or beverage everyone is raving about? With a shrewd investment or two, we could make a fortune. Oh, to foretell just one.

Every year has its crazes, from phone-booth stuffing to pet rocks. However, they seem to be arriving more rapidly, or thanks to the information superhighway, on a broader scale.

No one in America can be unaware of the Macarena, even if only 2 percent of us can do the dance. Everyone knows of Tickle Me Elmo, the doll worth $1,000 on the black market a week ago but destined for the markdown bin at your favorite toy store by June. And comic-strip dweeb Dilbert erupted into a cottage industry that could have been any one of our fortunes since we all harbored the same thoughts about our bosses; If only we could draw.

Even the political fads fly by at breathtaking speed. One year, it's angry white males. Then, soccer moms. Kissing kindergartners next?

Americans love to poke fun at fads as we contribute to such phenomenons. Yet even as we ridicule them, they seem to tie us, to make us guffaw or gasp together, in a society where work and home lives don't look as much alike as they once did.

In the end, who can quibble with all the good deeds and charitable giving pried loose by the pre-Christmas quest for Elmo? Mock the Macarena, if you will, but the Wall Street Journal credited it for helping Americans feel better about things and picking up the economy.

So come on '97, we await your fads and surprises. As TV interviewer Connie Chung said, just whisper one to us. It need not be anything large: Something on the order of an Eddie Murray home run ball or a trinket from the Kennedys' attic would do just fine.

Pub Date: 12/28/96

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.