Aching For the '80s

Companies in China are discovering a new way into 30-somethings' wallets: the past

Pichi Chuang / Reuters

Forward motion. Ai Weiwei's Forever Bicycles art installation addresses the rapid pace of social change in China

One evening about a year ago, Yong Yue-peng, a 35-year-old pharmaceutical salesman in Shanghai, flicked on his laptop and went to Youku.com China's version of YouTube. There, he clicked on a made-for-the-Web film that had generated some buzz in Internet chat rooms and the Chinese press. The film--called Old Boys--is about two middle-aged men, friends who were aspiring musicians when they were young and now have rather humdrum careers. They decide to enter an American Idol--like contest, performing a tribute to one of their musical heroes from the 1980s: Michael Jackson. Yong was transfixed. "Every detail in the film...

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