Thursday, February 23, 2012

generation ?

You'd think the hipsters started it all: Bell-bottoms, Jackie-O frames, red lips, Elvis-inspired blues, rockabilly a la The Everly Brothers. The retro resurgence has pervaded every medium and compartmentalized today’s consumer behavior. It is impossible to turn a corner without being bombarded with some kind of nostalgic reference in the form of a vintage re-creation in the form of an overpriced commercial product.

Some things are rightfully never forgotten, but it seems that everything “retro”, the good, the bad, and the painfully misguided, has been reincarnated by a generation of culturally lost consumers. While it is the role of the self-proclaimed cosmopolitan tastemaker to obsess over the latest obscurity, what has compelled the trickle down effect to morph into a colossal cascade that has invaded the plebian periphery? 

At the start of 2000, the world’s artistic momentum reached a plateau in lieu of the Y2K prediction, and we were left with nothing but the inspired cultural innovations of the past fifty years to gaze back on longingly. The world lost track of the future and found itself at a standstill. And the only way to move forward was to sell nostalgia. We have yet to cover any ground since then, our popular culture but relics from the idealized decades we struggle to reconstruct.  The only sorry excuse we have for anything that slightly resembles a popular culture is “electronic,” or dare I say, “rave.” But again, been there, done that. 70’s Krautrock or 90’s Acid House anyone? Sure, we’ve arguably built on past movements and no doubt has reinvention always existed and been a legitimate art form, but nothing of the past decade has persisted to be more than a transient fad.

An optimistic rationale of this is that our right brains have been sitting idle for so long that, out of convenience and laziness, we have become hesitant to seek out new inspiration. A grimmer prospect is that we have digressed as a society and lost the ability to summon a thought-provoking, progressive aesthetic. 

The Millenials lack an identity. The avant-garde has run dry and surely, the current media landscape has not been conducive to counterculture. The days of anti-establishment, free love, and ‘bricolage’ are long gone and the faint ring of subversion is only left sounding in their parents’ teenage memories. It has been long enough to safely say “popular culture has drowned itself in the past” without sounding insensitive. Today’s society is steeped in an ideology that is unconscious. We lack a collective energy because we have become complacent and unquestioning. I love/hate to reference Radiohead, but could the eerie prophecy of OK Computer be coming true? 

What are your thoughts? 

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