While I agree with Frank's arguments in both articles, and I think they still hold true in conversations about today's internet/social media culture, his ideas and premises are certainly less controversial or eye-opening than they would have been in the mid-90s. By the way, wouldn't it be fun to do a "where are they now" piece based on all the actors and musicians he mentions? For example, Henry Rollins, the Black Flag lead singer -- whom Frank notes had been studied for his unique "branding" (before this was even a word) back in the 90s -- is now doing the voice-overs for Infiniti car commercials. And Pearl Jam, whom I think he unfairly criticizes, are still touring and making records. As a college student in the mid-90s who read Rolling Stone and followed the movements of pop culture, I think bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam were the most reluctant "pop stars" maybe in the history of music. I mean, both Cobain and Eddie Vedder were incredibly reclusive. Pear Jam even sued Ticketmaster for monopolizing concert tickets and setting high prices because they had no competition. By the same token, Frank is right that many bands, actors, and artists used this 90s, counter-culture, reluctant-rebel image to sell themselves and become famous.
Frank's premise that capitalism has swallowed up the counter-culture image. This was certainly the case during the tech boom, when internet-startups were considered maverick and renegade businesses that paid no attention to balance sheets and accounting rules. And, of course, they've also swallowed up this new Generation Y's attachment to FB and Twitter, and their heroes like Bieber, Miley, and Taylor Swift. I think the only difference is the speed with which capitalism can now adapt to changes in pop culture.
One last point: When Frank says "nobody wants you to think they're serious today," where and how does this movement end. That is, do people start rebelling by becoming more serious, more earnest than ironic? I think we've already seen this in the new Eco-Food movement, where a substantial number of young people have quit their corporate/urban/tech lives to move to the country and grow their own food and live more simply. And with recent films like Nebraska, The Fighter, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and others, I think we're seeing a change towards more straightforward narratives and more earnest storytelling, less tied to the culture of celebrity or hipster irony.