Did Baby-Faced Assassins Kill Post-Modernism?
This is for backpack-wearing, early-to-bed, celibate, polite, unironic and mackerelly sincere eager-to-please vegan fauxhemian Millennials and all members of the Gratingest generation, whose earnestness has gone from admirable to precious to something destructive. The victims? Post-modernism, sarcasm, irony, architecture, literature, music. The aggressive earnestness and participatory vibe also help explain advertising’s current confusion.
“POST-MODERNISM IS DEAD”
An article in the August Prospect Magazine announces the end of post-modernism citing the first comprehensive retrospective in the world of its kind at the Victoria and Albert museum: “Postmodernism—Style and Subversion 1970-1990.” Had we really even finished defining it?
If there’s one word that confuses, upsets, angers, beleaguers, exhausts and contaminates us all, then it is postmodernism. And yet, properly understood, postmodernism is playful, intelligent, funny and fascinating. From Grace Jones to Lady Gaga, from Andy Warhol to Gilbert and George, from Paul Auster to David Foster Wallace, its influence has been everywhere and continues. It has been the dominant idea of our age.
Post-modernism is probably best defined by placing it along modernism, its forerunner.
What is changing is that postmodernism will no longer be the dominant form. The new dominant form is emerging. As one brilliant writer puts it in Partial Objects, “The best way I can describe what I think comes next, in light of postmodernism, is the death of cool. The detachment and aloofness that defined cool are no longer palatable to younger generations. “Whatever,” followed by some glib deconstruction of motives, intent, and meaning, is no longer an acceptable response to an idea or question. Deconstruction is no longer an excuse for inaction or withdrawal.”
So what’s next? Some speculate it’s “Authenticism”?
BABY-FACED ASSASSINS AND THE DEATH OF COOL
As PastaBagel says, “If we listen carefully we can detect a growing desire for authenticity all around us. We can identify it in the way everything from bands to brands are trying to hold on to, or take up, an interest in ethics, values, or a particular and participative sincerity. A culture of belonging is advertised and celebrated and cherished. Values are important once more.” Yes, marketing’s awkward new adolescence has frozen a lot of brands in timid brainless advertising and led others to embarrassing overreach. But whatever, it’s kind of cool, this new belonging and feeling that we can do better. It’s just never been attempted on such a scale at such large doses for such a sustained period.
Arcade Fire: Brilliant or bland, maybe. But earnest, fersher.
Pants merchant Levi’s: “Now is our time.Your legacy is yours to make. Get involved.”(Plus, pants.)