One of the puzzles of the whole "Plastic Bertrand" drama for Americans is that we don't like plastic. In a famous scene from The Graduate (1967), "plastics" is a one-word symbol for the emptiness of mainstream success:
Allen Ginsberg's Friday the Thirteenth (1984) sums it up:
Slaves of Plastic! Leather-shoe chino-pants prisoners! Haircut junkies! Dacron-sniffers!
Striped tie addicts! short hair monkeys on their backs! Whiskey freaks
bombed out on 530 billion cigarettes a year—
twenty Billion dollar advertising Dealers! lipstick skin-poppers & syndicate
Star-striped scoundrelesque flag-dopers! Car-smog hookers Fiendish on superhighways!
Growth rate trippers hallucinating Everglade real estate!
But in Europe, the connotations of plastic seem to be more positive.
The Plastic People of the Universe were at the center of Prague's intellectual underground from 1968 onwards. When Roger Jouret left the Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels to launch a pop-music career in 1977, he took the name Plastic Bertrand.
Maybe Europeans are just more ironic. Maybe plastic was associated with America and thereby acquired pop-culture coolness. Maybe European intellectuals are more likely than Americans to think of 20th-century technology as a positive and progressive force.
Anyhow, it's odd.