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For reference, I want to refer to this video, but I’m not going to embed it because I know I have been spamming a lot of videos at my DW followers lately.

Also, I’m not one of those people who worships at the altar of David Foster Wallace as The Other Great Voice Of Generation X Who Killed Himself (the first, and ultimate, is of course Kurt Cobain) mostly because of factors like the ones pointed out in this article. Yes, people are only human, we all have flaws, etc. I never said I reviled him, just that I don’t revere him like a lot of other people seem to.

However, he has a point about the dangers of irony.

Criticism of irony has come up a lot these days, especially when it’s not irony; when it’s being used to mask the truth, as modern Nazis seem to have adopted as their best praxis in order to evade criticism. (Googling search terms like “Ironic Nazis” and “Ironic White Supremacists” brings up a host of articles like this one. I’m not sure which one best defines the problem.)

I was born at what one pundit on Twitter yesterday referred to as “the ass-end of Generation X.”

When I was coming of age, the biggest entertainment powerhouses on TV were Friends and Seinfeld (FYI, modern Nazis, Pepes, Kekistanis, etc. fucking love Seinfeld. IDK.) The takeaway from both shows is basically this: people are flakes and are fucking fake. Even your friends. Especially your friends. People who feel very strongly about things are annoying because nothing is worth feeling very strongly about. Very little in life gets resolved, especially in a 30 minute time block – but this is how real life is, and expecting anything to be different is unrealistic, and will just make the Universe disappoint you over and over again.

And a lot of this stems from a backlash against what we seemed to loathe about what we interpreted as the Baby Boomer inauthenticity, and what the Boomers themselves revolted against with movements like Punk and Pop Art. Without the twee, Father Knows Best sentimentalism of the older Boomer and Greatest Generation set, the younger Boomer and early-stage Gen X edgelords who rebelled against them would never had existed.

Right now I can think of three or four close friends who are 3-7 years younger than me, all born between 1980 and 1985. I love these people, but they sometimes drive me to distraction, and for the longest time I couldn’t figure out why. But before I had this epiphany, when I tried to define it, it was like this: it felt to me felt like they belonged in a Wes Anderson movie. Their speech and mannerisms make them seem as if they are always trying to be the human equivalent of a warm cup of tea or a fuzzy blanket.

And I can’t stand it. I can only take this in very small doses. And I think this is because to me, this feels inauthentic. It feels like it must be a mask for, or an evasion of, a greater cynicism. Their mannerisms feel like affectations, I always assumed that they were affectations, and it actively costs me more emotional energy to deal with them.

And I always harbored suspicions that this was maybe the point: that it was some kind of powerplay that they’d adopted to deal with how cynical the world is. But because some of these folks are not neurotypical, I felt like an asshole for feeling this way, for having so much trouble with it. Because for all I knew, they had watched a bunch of Wes Anderson movies in an attempt to learn how to interact, and who was I to judge?

I am not one of those people who like to rant about Millennials, because I never wanted to be a part of the contingent that has been literally and figuratively trying to beat them up for their lunch money since before they even came of age. But I wonder if other Gen Xers feel this way, if this is behind some of the misplaced rage at “The Millennial Generation.”

It’s weird, but before the recent analysis of the effect that cynicism and irony have had on this culture, I didn’t really have a way to put these feelings into words, except as I already described above. The idea that they themselves were behaving due to a generational shift, and a backlash against our perceived irony and nihilism and cynicism, never occurred to me until recently.

Current Mood:

SNL Wes Anderson from Hybrid Collective on Vimeo.

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