Tag Archives: hipsters

2 Broke Girls, S2E17 “And the Broken Hip”: A TV Review

brokenhidphgas

I finished writing my last review with sort of a bad taste in my mouth, so I decided to try approaching this episode with the same curious naivete with which I viewed Season 1.  

It’s a tried and true television trope to have the characters of your sitcom blackmailed, and in this case that takes the form of an actual lawsuit. Caroline and Max have recently started making big bucks with their cupcake shop [more on that later] when street performer/puppeteer J. Petto [played by Andy Dick] starts scaring off their customers by setting up out front. After they’ve told him to get out he storms into the storm, only to have him slip on a doughnut and fall and break a hip.

The hip, of course, belongs to his puppet, Charming Pierre. The two girls are sued, but agree to pay him $1000 to avoid going to court [they obviously have no insurance on their cupcake shop]. After they’ve paid the man he demands more, which leads to Max kidnapping Pierre. When Petto shows up he’s forced to watch his beloved marionette forced into compromising situations involving two naked Barbie dolls [one male, one female], and promises to call off the lawsuit. That just about sums up the entire episode.

At this point in time, the primary cast of 2 Broke Girls can arguably be boiled down to just Max and Caroline. Sure, the gang back at the diner are close second-stringers [Han, Oleg, Earl, and Sophie], but there’s no way they’re ever going to dominate an episode. The camera will never pan back and forth between Max and Caroline running the shop while Oleg and Earl figure play pranks on Han; this is a one-plot show. And that singular plot had better be amusing, because we’re not allowed the distraction of another to take us away from it. With a title like 2 Broke Girls it’s unlikely that the format will change, but it’s sincerely got me wondering how much depth breaking away from that would give the show, and how much more characterization we’d be able to get out of the rest of the cast.

This episode is also a reminder of how dated the references on the show can be. Once again hipsters are a topic, since they are the ones flocking to the shop due to its new 90s celebrity menu [cupcakes refer to Beavis and Butthead, Dennis Rodman, and David Hasselhoff]. While this is nothing new, it got me thinking about what demographic the show is trying to target. I was born in 1990, and there’s some pretty explicit reference to pro figure skater Nancy Kerrigan and her being attacked in 1994. With that in mind, most people in their early to mid twenties are not going to get these jokes, so is it the thirty-somethings they’re going for?

At the end of the day, this episode was just another 2 Broke Girls Episode. It relied too heavily on put-down humour [this guy is too into puppets let’s mock him mercilessly] and too-easy jokes [“. . . I’m pretty sure you’d go from J. Petto to J. Pedophile], and was ultimately only sort of funny. That seems to be what audiences are eating up, though, so you almost can’t blame them for sticking with what works.

As a final note, their “Current Total” of $4800 drops down to the “New Total” of $3800, due to them crumbling to J. Petto’s demands. It’s still not really explained what the point of the total is, but I suppose through this episode it can be viewed as emergency bail-out money. Expect someone [Caroline, in all likelihood] to get thrown in jail at some point this season.

Stray Observations:

  • It’s nice to note that this show has some form of continuity- Candy Andy’s storefront is currently for lease.
  • Not really any quotes or exchanges that stood out to me this episode. Just a pretty meh episode, though definitely not as offensive as last week’s.
  • I will admit that Max straight-facedly ramming a naked Barbie onto a puppet was very funny. I expect to see gifs of it on tumblr by the end of the week.
  • 2 Broke Girls Cheesecake Menu: Even Sophie’s cleavage was generally kept tightly under wraps this week. Not much to report here.
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2 Broke Girls, S2E14 “And Too Little Sleep”: A TV Review

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This episode begins with Caroline reminding Max [and the rest of us] that “this isn’t the diner where everything comes with attitude and E. coli.” The fact that the cold open takes place in the cupcake shop doesn’t stop her from snarking at a drumming customer in overalls, though. Insert comment from me about how the show’s centre seems to be moving further away from the diner.

Soon enough Andy shows up, forcing Caroline into hiding [they broke up, remember?]. It also kicks off a fairly decent running joke about how Max doesn’t recall having slept with the guy at the record store. Kat Denning’s delivery of the following line actually made me chuckle out loud:

Andy:  Oh, by the way, the guy at the record store says hi.

Max: Well, you tell him I said . . Who are you?

This conversation also reveals one of the big concepts in the episode: your friends keeping in contact with your ex. Max and Andy have bonded over texting each other pictures of unlikely animal couples, and you can rest assured that it’s going to cause some sort of trouble later on in the episode.

Ah, sorry, I forgot to mention that in this episode Max and Caroline are tired. Tired enough for Max to pull down her pants in the middle of the cupcake shop and for Caroline to doze off while taking orders. This creates complications, of course, when her sleep deprivation causes Caroline to remember that they have an order for 1000 cupcakes due the next day at 10 a.m.

So the girls race out, leaving Han hanging, only for Caroline to kick the shim out from under their oven, rendering it unusable. Fun fact: a shim is “a thin and often tapered or wedged piece of material,” and not a pronoun for transexuals like Caroline posits. Seconds later and the girls race back to the diner they abandoned to use the oven/kitchen there. Instead of being understandably upset, Han and the others are actually really cool about it, offering to stay up late and help finish their order. They’ve really tried to push the idea of them being a more-or-less happy, dysfunctional family, and this approach is more heavy-handed than most.

Also allow me to say that Matthew Moy, who plays Han, kills it this week with the material given to him. Max reaches around his body to show him how to properly ice cupcakes only to have him squirt the sugary glaze all over the place [haha, premature ejaculation joke, we get it]. Moy’s distressed cries of “Oh, oh, I’m humiliated!” really lands here. Check the “Stray Observations” below to check out the other one.

The girls are alone, and just about done with the order when it turns out that Max has lost an earring, presumably in the batter. This forces the two to start destroying the cupcakes to find them, and soon, with bits of baked goods underneath every fingernail, the two are throwing down over Max still talking to Andy and “girl code.”

The scene really stands out due to their argument, which holds a lot more emotional sincerity than most of the feel-good moments on the show. There’s screaming and cupcake throwing and on some level, in spite of the audience laughing and cheering, it feels strangely real, like the two actresses are actually upset at one another.

Anyway, Andy shows up to help and defuses the situation. Him and Caroline end up in the kitchen and talk about how they “glove” each other [why can’t we all use kitchen safety to properly express our feelings?] and while they don’t get back together they ultimately end up in a pretty good place. Another breakup takes place when Max and Andy talk, realizing that they should probably stop texting for Caroline’s sake.

Back at the apartment the girls realize that they had switched aprons, and that Max’s earring was in her apron [on Caroline] the entire time. This is really weird, because this discovery is caused by Max finding Caroline’s phone, which doesn’t jive with her texting with her own phone earlier. Anyway, it’s not really worth picking apart, just generally kind of clumsy on the writers’ parts.

The show ends with the usual ka-ching of the money counter, which I suppose now tallies up the profits from the cupcake shop, shooting up from $900 to $4900 due to their huge order. I’m not sure what they’re aiming for, or what their overheads are, but right now it doesn’t seem all that important to the show as a whole.

As a parting note, did anyone else feel like this episode had a lot of dated references? Sure, hipsters were also a topic sort of addressed in CBS’s other Monday sitcom, How I Met Your Mother, but Max also references James Cameron’s Avatar and the 2010 TLC series Sister Wives.

Tune in next week to read my reviews of a show The A.V. Club gave up on a long time ago!

Stray Observations:

  • Apparently Earl quit doing cocaine last year, at 75. Guy looks pretty good, all things considering.
  • Han’s response to Max telling him he’s 90% head: “It’s not a laughing matter, Max, I broke my mother’s pelvis coming out!”
  • The “whoos” at Sophie’s entrance were extremely subdued this week. (•‿•)
  • Unlikely animal couples mentioned: monkey tickling a parrot, a black dog spooning a brown dog, deer nursing a turtle, labradoodle high-fiving a koi fish, cat and dolphin kissing, Max and Caroline [awwww].
  • 2 Broke Girls Cheesecake Menu: Sophie’s boobs straining to break free from her dress. Oh, and Max pantsing herself in the cold open.

Evan and Gordon Talk: Nerd Culture

EVAN: To start this off by ignoring our readership and addressing you, this week’s topic is a weird sort of continuation of the various posts on culture you’ve written, such as “manly culture,” “science culture,” etc. And similar to these other groups of people, “nerd culture” is a pretty nebulous sort of thing to define.

GORDON: No argument there. After all, even the “nerds” insist on calling out “fake nerds”- especially in regards to women/girls. But what is a nerd anyways?

EVAN: See, now I’m torn, because we do need to define it, but you’ve also directly referenced an issue I wanted to discuss in depth this week.

GORDON: How about we abandon our previous track record, and just plunge recklessly ahead and hope the issue resolves itself?

EVAN: Well, let me throw this image out there:

And then hope that suffices for now.

GORDON: Works for me. So what was it that you wanted to address specifically?

EVAN: Well, just last month there was this guy, a comic artist, named Tony Harris. And he wrote this post on his Facebook page that was essentially a tirade against “faux nerd” women, and how they are whores, and so on.

To break it down further, these are women who dress up as superheroes and what have you without knowing about the actual characters themselves. He is upset because, to quote him:

BECAUSE YOU DONT KNOW SH-T ABOUT COMICS, BEYOND WHATEVER GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCH YOU DID TO GET REF ON THE MOST MAINSTREAM CHARACTER WITH THE MOST REVEALING COSTUME EVER.

Also that they attend to essentially just tease the regular con-goers and are actually not even hot, just “con-hot.” So yeah, he said a lot.

GORDON: Ah yes, I recall reading about this. And while I think we can all agree Harris went too far, is a bit hypocritical (seeing how most comic women ain’t exactly average looking), and probably getting too emotional, I can’t help but wonder if he has, somewhere in there, a point.

I mean, imagine if all of a sudden, something that you had been stigmatized for became popular, and people started trying to co-opt your identity knowing nearly nothing about it. I’d be ticked off too.

EVAN: That’s definitely something I’ve read people write about, that this used to be an exclusive club and that it took years to build up this knowledge and become, well, a nerd, and here are these noobs and they want in and it’s not that easy.

And I can see where they’re coming from as well.

But if you really love something, shouldn’t you want others to as well? The Avengers has an enormous following on tumblr these days [because of the movie], and these are people who are actually going out and starting to buy comics. They are helping sales, aiding the industry, etc.

GORDON: That’s true, and something I’ve considered, but there’s probably also an argument to be made for the other side. That something precious to you is being watered down and diluted for profit. I don’t believe that nerds (comic book nerds, anyways) can necessarily make this argument, but the line of logic is there.

Let’s try to come up with an example of this happening somewhere else, especially in regards to persecution.

EVAN: Mmk, go ahead-

GORDON: “Black culture” (or what was passed off as black culture) might be an example. Can you state that you’re not driven nuts by wealthy, comfortable suburban kids fronting like they’re from the streets of Oakland?

EVAN: Yeah, people are upset about it, sure, but there’s not this immense outcry over it. There are comic-con enthusiasts that are genuinely incensed that all of this is happening-

I doubt that an actual thug or gangbanger or whatever these rich White kids are playing at imitating is going to start freaking out that he’s getting ripped off. He’s going to laugh or shrug it off, because it hardly matters.

GORDON: I’d argue that the reason for this has more to do with the change in venue. It’s easy for the major players of the comic book industry to voice their opinions than, say, a Wu-Tang Clan fan in the late 90s. But maybe I’m wrong.

EVAN: For the most part, I see this as a mindset that is the foundation or core of hipsterism, and that we all feel to some extent, however minor. That we found something and we love it and there is a pride in joy in being one of the original fans.

And this outpouring of others somehow cheapens things. And all of a sudden we’re trying to assert how we’re better than them in some way.

“You chose to dress up as Spider-Woman? Do you even know who her alter-ego is, or what her powers are? Etc.”

GORDON: Again, do we not sympathize? Do we not feel frustrated with people who have more or less jumped on the bandwagon now that it’s all safe and socially acceptable to do so? Heck, just imagine if someone tried listing themselves as a fan of fine cooking, having only eaten sushi once- would you be ticked?

EVAN: If I equated sushi with fine cooking I guess I would, yeah. But just because we can understand someone’s anger and frustration doesn’t make it logical.

GORDON: I wouldn’t say that there’s not a logic to it. I mean, a major part of being a nerd is, and always has been, the social pariah element. All of the sudden you have these people trying to claim to be on the fringes of society? It’s condescending and insulting.

EVAN: I think that’s the issue- They’re not trying to “claim to be on the fringes of society.”

GORDON: I disagree- I feel this is a coward’s way of feigning rebelliousness and all that.

EVAN: Sometimes people who haven’t been exposed to comics for much of their lives see a movie, or read a trade, and go to a con. Maybe they wear a costume. That doesn’t mean they’re going into this thinking, in any way, that they’re suddenly a part of this group of outcasts.

Comics are popular now. I mean, more than they’ve ever been. To say “I like comics” is no longer the sort of thing that’s going to get you shunned. People are going to raise their eyebrows and wonder why you think that’s a big deal.

GORDON: Comics yes, no one is gonna argue that. The title of “nerd” however, that’s different. And after all, “nerd” is a much larger term. It applies to gamers, to film, and so on.

EVAN: So how does one become a “fake nerd”?

GORDON: Therein lies the rub- there’s always gonna be more obsessive nerds out there. People higher up and lower down the hierarchy. But for the most part, I think we can agree that a “false” nerd is one who does not meet the criteria in that diagram you posted.

The “social ineptitude”, the “obsessiveness”- if it’s not actually there (no matter how much the person or persons might insist otherwise) then that person is a “fake” nerd.

EVAN: So am I a “fake nerd”?

GORDON: Do you call yourself a nerd?

EVAN: I don’t really call myself anything. But I’d also say that many of the girls who go to cons and find themselves attacked by Harris don’t refer to themselves as anything in particular either.

GORDON: Then no, I wouldn’t define you or them as fitting this category. Like I said- Harris went overboard.

EVAN: I just don’t think social ineptitude needs to be a requirement in this. I think you could be a nerd and still have friends, and achieve some level of popularity. The diagram above really shoehorns the definition. I mean, what if I did call myself a nerd?

I’m fairly smart, about 80% of the time I’m thinking about comics, or comics-related media. At the same time, I’m a fairly social guy. What does that mean?

GORDON: You think about comics 80% of the time?

EVAN: I think about comics a lot.

GORDON: 80% of your waking thoughts is a craaaaaazy lot, though I’d say your self-identification as a nerd is flawed. Serial-killer in the making would be more accurate. But we begin to split hairs at this point.

EVAN: I guess it’s like, does Hugh Laurie have the right to play the blues?

GORDON: Hugh Laurie can do whatever the **** he wants. As does anyone. With everything he does, can he identify himself first and foremost as a blues musician? Not really. At least, that ain’t how we’re all gonna think of him, or remember him.

EVAN: Does it matter that it’s what you identify as first and foremost? I am positive that at some level, yes, he does identify as a blues musician.

GORDON: It does matter how you identify yourself first and foremost. I’ve eaten bugs on multiple occasions- I don’t declare myself “Gordon Brown: Bug Eater.” The rest of the stuff I do outweighs it by far.

EVAN: You’re missing my point. You’ve eaten bugs, so on some level you can identify as a bug-eater.

If he identifies as a blues artist less than he does as an actor, that doesn’t negate the fact that he identifies as a blues artist, and what we’re talking about is people being able to say that they can and do relate to a culture, and that doesn’t make them fake adherents of that.

GORDON: Let me offer another example: I’ve been camping, and I occasionally read survivalist pamphlets. For me to call myself a “survivalist” would nevertheless be inaccurate and misleading. That’s the crux of the matter, I believe.

A nerd is someone who is in this for the long haul- a person who enjoys The Avengers or Nolan’s Batman trilogy isn’t. At least, not necessarily.

EVAN: I’m not saying that a person who enjoyed The Avengers equates being a nerd. That’s like, half the Earth’s population, if the box office is any indicator.

I’m saying that a person who saw The Avengers, and then heads over to their local comics store to check some out, and gets really into it, has the potential to become a “comics nerd” of sorts. And people who see them and scorn them for not being there from the beginning should be ashamed of themselves.

If we’re sticking with the example of film and comics and so-on.

GORDON: And I agree- those people should not be viewed with derision. But that’s not who we’re talking about here.

We’re talking about ****ing hipsters, about people who have just enough knowledge of a culture to give themselves the veneer or adopting it. People who wear glasses as a ****ing fashion statement. You know the kind.

It’s about motives. The noob who is just now getting into the culture isn’t a “false” nerd- just a young one. The person who call himself or herself a nerd to co-opt the social stigma (now that it’s all but gone) deserves contempt.

EVAN: I honestly don’t think that what these people are trying to co-opt is the social stigma.

GORDON: My poor choice of words. I mean the false sense of rebellion. Like people who post pro-gay Facebook statements simply to draw attention and applause to themselves. Fake-rebels. Fair-weather activists.

EVAN: That’s fine, and I agree that these people are not to be applauded.

I just think that for the most part, people are realizing that there is a lot in the “nerd culture” that they find interesting and accessible, and are gravitating towards it. Not out of some misguided attempt to be on the edge of society, but because they legitimately enjoy whatever it is they’re trying to engage with.

GORDON: I agree- I simply don’t think it’s these people most old-guard nerds are angry at.

EVAN: But how can they differentiate? That’s a huge issue. It’s this reaction of the community against anyone that’s not legit, but without any way of truly being able to tell how people feel-

A person can go to comic-con in an elaborate costume simply because they enjoy the aesthetics and design of the character. They’re not required to know everything about them, and shouldn’t be hissed and booed at when they don’t.

GORDON: That in and of itself is another issue. If I showed up to the social justice convention dressed as Che Guevara  you’d best believe I’d better know a thing or two about the guy who I’m completely dressed up as- but we’re moving off track.

EVAN: But the point of social justice conventions isn’t to dress up as your favourite revolutionary- that’s entirely besides the point. I bring it up because it’s completely cogent to our topic, because it’s exactly what Tony Harris was railing against.

GORDON: Tony Harris ran his mouth and made a fool of himself, I ain’t trying to defend a word of what he said or wrote, only the general perspective he seems to be coming from.

EVAN: What I’m saying, without negating your points is this, and I’m going to try to wrap up since we’re 15 minutes past our cut-off, is this:

I’m someone says “LOL im such a nerd” and they wear glasses with big frames and have a Green Lantern patch on their backpack, yeah, I’d say that’s not okay. But a large issue is being able to, as a community, acknowledge when “outsiders” try to access what it is that we love so dearly.

We like comic books and Star Trek and Dungeons and Dragons, and if other people might as well, that’s fine. Just because others weren’t always welcoming of us in the past doesn’t mean we should do the same to others. Especially when there’s some likelihood, even a little, that they could one day be as big a fan as you [as hard as that may be to believe].

GORDON: Well put. Be sure to stop by next time for our discussion of . . .

EVAN: Of . . . uh . . . I threw out this topic last week, what’ve you got?

GORDON: Let’s address the portrayal of drugs- weed in particular- in media and popular culture.

EVAN: That’s a pretty contemporary topic too, because of the legalization in Washington and all that. Sounds good to me.

GORDON: Let it be so then. Merry Wednesday to all, and to all a good night!

Evan and Gordon Talk: The Greatest Flaw of This Generation

GORDON: Ladies and gentlemen- this is your captain speaking. After some unavoidable delays we will finally be taking off into our mid-week discussion. Our topic for today is “What’s the greatest flaw of this generation?”(This generation being those born in the late 80s to mid 90s: “The Millennials,” “Generation I”, “Gen Y”- call us what you will).

EVAN: As I mentioned in the news update, we scrapped our conversation last night, largely because it became cyclical. To be more specific, we ended up going back and forth between apathy and cowardice, with one leading back to the other and so on.

GORDON: But let’s widen the picture a bit. While apathy is the go-to criticism many have, also up there for our generation’s flaws is our alleged “sense of entitlement.” Thoughts?

EVAN: If we’re still going with your incredibly broad age range, then yes, I definitely think that a lot of kids these days feel a sense of entitlement. It’s just the norm now to have wireless internet, a phone, the latest iGadget, etc. They’re just expected, the new given.

GORDON: Is that fair, though? I mean- haven’t we assumed that phones, indoor toilets, and electricity are “the norm” since they were first invented?

EVAN: To a point, though, some of what you listed are basic necessities. I’d argue that indoor plumbing is considered much more standard than an iPad.

GORDON: This is true, but I don’t think our generation- barring the handful of people who actually do feel entitled- views the iPad or any specific item as being “standard”- it’s the interconnection that’s the norm, as well as the expectations for new technology.

I mean, back in the day you didn’t need light bulbs. But if they’re mass produced, and safer than gas-lamps, then it just stands to reason that we’d eventually come to expect them.

But of course technology’s only one element. what about the idea that this generation is “entitled” in the sense that they get to “find themselves” or “focus on their art” or whatever hipster euphemism is being used to say “part-time employed”?

EVAN: Do I think that people feel they deserve the right to do more than just hit the ground running after college, get right down to the ol’ nine-to-five? I mean, yeah.

But I think this brings up a point I made yesterday about the “where” of our question. In France the age of retirement is 62 and that’s just expected. There are different standards depending on where you live in the world.

GORDON: This is true. I mean, each and every one of us would be considered spoiled brats if we jumped back a hundred years or so.

EVAN: Oh, no doubt. Especially you with your freakishly smooth hands.

GORDON: So would YOU say that the whole “entitlement” criticism stands?

And I use gloves. I refuse to be put down because I take better care of myself.

EVAN: You say that every time, but they’re still as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

GORDON: That means they’re working, and I’ll further have you know that I have a big ol’ scar in my right hand in the shape of a number “7.” But back to the issue-

It doesn’t seem like the “entitlement” bit sticks. Could we be classified as “lazy,” perhaps? The warped and stunted half-humans resulting from government dependence and the welfare state?

EVAN: Well, we discussed “laziness” last night specifically in the context of wanting to change what is clearly a broken system, but is what we’re talking about a general laziness? People just expecting to be spoon-fed?

GORDON: That’s the question. I recall a Cracked.com article in which the author kicked things off by apologizing for helping perpetuate the myth that a college education was a guarantee for a good job. Are we “lazy” in having had the expectation- as most of us had?

EVAN: Well, depending on who you ask, college is hard. In a way, I guess we expect that the hard work we put into maintaining a good GPA, et cetera, will result in finding employment once we’re out in the real world. Which, as I can attest to, is clearly not the case.

GORDON: So is that laziness then? Entitlement mentality?

EVAN: I don’t think that doing hard work and expecting a reward is laziness. That’s like someone working the fields and then being called a layabout because he expected crops to grow. A shaky comparison, I realize.

GORDON: Works for me. And I agree.

Now you yourself have accused us all of being creatively bankrupt. Could that be our major flaw? That we don’t make- we remix?

EVAN: I guess it depends on how we’re working this whole “greatest flaw of our generation” angle. The trend to rehash, remix, et cetera came about recently, but I’m not sure it’s because of us. Or is the question in regards to this day and age we’re in, and not those growing up in it?

GORDON: No, I mean us as an age-group, and that does pretty much answer the question right there. We are, for the most part, not the ones who are making the films and TV shows and music (give or take) of our time- that’s those who came before us.

EVAN: Exactly. Which is why we’re getting stuff like He-Man and Thundercats reboots, because those who were kids in the 80’s have a crippling nostalgia. Music is different, of course, but TV and movies are definitely controlled by the generation before us.

Okay, how about this. Maybe the flaw is our hellish appetite to be entertained.

GORDON: Ooh- interesting take. Expound, by all means.

EVAN: I mean, you’ve talked about the bilge that’s on television countless times. Do you know what we’ve been reduced to? A musical chairs gameshow called “Oh Sit!”

Are we so bored that we’ll watch people play “extreme musical chairs” for an hour?

GORDON: I had no idea that existed. But surely this isn’t the first time in history that TV’s been crap. Or radio, or books, or music, or anything. Think of the “Penny Dreadfuls” back in the Victorian era- little, cheap trashy pulp-fiction novels made for mass consumption. Is that any worse than what we have today? Seems like the bilge is the same- it’s just the media that’ve changed.

EVAN: It may be the same, but it’s being produced at a frantic pace. That change, at least, has to be important.

GORDON: That speaks less to our appetites and more to our efficiency.

EVAN: I’d say that it has just as much to do with our appetites, judging by the content of what’s put out.

GORDON: We’re almost out of time, so let’s hit up some other key issues:

Apathy. As we said before, apathy tends to be the go-to criticism, at least, one of the major ones when it comes to our generation, and I think this is one of the easiest to put to rest. The Occupy Movement, environmentalism, increasing number of social movements, increasing global awareness- you name it. We’re strides ahead of the past couple generations. Heck, I’d go so far as to say we’re the most involved generation since the 60s and early 70s.

Well we’re out of time, and still of plenty of ground to cover- so rather than sloppily close up, we’ll be continuing our discussion next week with a question about hipster morality: “Do we want to be good, or do we just want to look good?” If you have any suggestions or recommendations for topics, don’t hesitate to shoot us a comment.

EVAN: Thanks for reading, and remember that CWR now updates every single weekday. I’ll see you tomorrow in our first ever “Fame Day” post!

Where’s the Counter-Culture?

In my last post, I grossly oversimplified a Marxist concept called “Alienation”. Today, I’ll be grossly oversimplifying the Marxist concept of dialectics.

Don’t give me any of that “Hegel said it first!” crap.

Boiled down to its basic components, it functions more or less as Newton’s third law of motion. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and that applies to society as well. Every spirit of the times is accompanied by a little inverted version of itself- or at least, its key values. Now according to dialectics, the conflict between these two opposites ultimately resolves in an evolved combination of the two, but in this post, we’re only addressing the first part.

Or at least, we would be if I could figure out what today’s counterculture is…

Think about it…

Look at the 1950s. For all the white-picket fences; sagely, pipe-smoking fathers; dutiful housewives/mothers, general patriotism and decency, and terror at the prospect of infiltration by degenerate Commies, there were greasers and bikers.

Despite the 1950s conjuring up images of idealized suburbia, this decade was the one that gave birth to rock and Hells Angels. Trafficking and dumping excrement and urine on their initiates doesn’t quite mesh with the general ideals of the time.

The same can be said for the sixties, which produced the hippies and the civil rights movement in the face of an otherwise conservative culture desperately trying to maintain the status quot.

Or the 70s, whose militancy and pessimism were a rejection of the peace, love, and hope values that arose during the previous decade.

Or the wildly egotistically and self-centered 80s producing (or at least, nurturing) anti-establishment and anti-corporate punks culture.

Even the 90s saw rise to goths, opposing the (comparatively) cheery and consumerist zeitgeist of the time.

So why not our era?

The Occupy Movement? I did consider them, but they don’t really fit the profile.

Despite being viciously cracked down on by the powers-that-be, the OWS protestors never really presented anything shockingly antithetical to the values we hold today. At least, not entirely.

Violence is (almost) universally decried as a means of protest and social change by all but those doing it. While America hasn’t seen much of it, continued rioting in Europe could very well mean not so much a brief outburst of rage as a entirely new perspective on what is and isn’t acceptable in society in general.

That’s one way of calling for social change…

Hipsters? I did briefly consider the whole Indy/Hipster movement as a possible subculture, and generally despised, the hordes of lost lumberjacks wandering the streets really don’t stand for anything that mainstream society is opposed to.

You are NOT a lumberjack and this is NOT Ok…

Annoying? Absolutely. Opposed to the spirit of the time? Not really. At most the hipster culture is guilty of desperately trying to cling to childhood nostalgia in the face of creative bankruptcy (see Evan’s post) and espousing thriftiness in the middle of a major economic depression (see my old post).

Bros. Everyone hates ’em, from their obnoxious machismo to their flaming skull t-shirts and spray-on tans.

Problem with this group is that it’s not a new group- just the latest reincarnation of the same kind of people. The same basic mentality can be found clear on back in Shakespeare’sRomeo and Juliet, which essentially starts with a bunch of bros crashing a party to pick up girls.

the 1890s, when “Bros” were called “Chums”…

Ok, so what if we look at what we have in society today and just invert it? What’s the major defining element of our generation? Technology. Internet and smartphones. Social media and memes. Anonymous and scams. The opposite of all this would be the primitivist subculture, right? The people who don’t wash or shave and live in compounds in the middle of nowhere.

And while it makes sense theoretically, we’re just not seeing a vibrant primitivist counterculture or even subculture. Even when you add in the survivalist subculture (in case you don’t know, those are they guys who think the gum’mint out ta git ’em), there’s still not exactly a rising trend in people learning how to skin squirrels or live in total harmony with the earth-mother.

What about these guys?

This site (which I’ll be delving more deeply into next week) really does seem to have an actually beef with contemporary culture- specifically in regards to men. Offering instructions on how to polish your shoes, store your fedora (you’re expected to have one, and if you don’t, to go out and get one), shave (or trim your beard, if that’s your thing), throw a punch, or patch a hole in your drywall (holes may be caused by punching it). In a lot of ways, the reverence this site has for the “traditional” concept of what a man ought to be like is reflective of a more general reaction against skinny jeans and YouTube comment section debates. While the site itself has a devoted cult following (and not a ton else), I have seen this general sentiment expressed, and I’m seeing it expressed more and more. Granted, I might be too close to the issue to be seeing it clearly- I myself think guys wearing skinning jeans should be put in stocks for all the village children to throw dead animals at- but perhaps you’ve run into this too. Just last night I heard a comedian complaining that the current generation were (in short) wimps. Gone, he said, were the days when you could chuck a television set out of a hotel window after some drug-fueled rock band had just given human decency the finger via a seven minute guitar solo. Another comedian remarked that “Our fathers would never take the crap we’re taking… the founders revolted because of a 3% tax increase- we won’t even riot when we’re being forced to strip down at an airport!”.

There is doubtlessly a certain mystique and appeal to the figure of powerful, well-dressed men, sitting around roaring fires, puffing on cigars and sipping aged scotch to celebrate that they were in complete control of their lives. Plenty of guys today would give their right arms to be Don Draper.

Though ideally minus the aggressive lung cancer and liver failure…

And interestingly enough, this general “Manly” reaction against emotionalism, appearance (over functionality), pacifism/nonviolence, and interdependence has elements from each of the cultures I described above. There’s the primitive concept of being free from dependence on technology that bears a similarity to the DIY slogans espoused by the “Manly”. There’s the “if you gotta punch a guy, you gotta punch a guy” mentality that seems related to the Black Bloc protest tactics. The simplicity of the Hipsters is here, and even the general “I am Man, here me roar” vibe seems to be a more sane version of Bro machismo.

But that’s all just a theory. Might be true- might be just a passing fad, though if it is just a fad, then we’re back at square one with a rather uncomfortable question.

If there is no counter-culture- what does that say about our culture today? Have we reached a point where we’re so pluralistic and tolerant and multicultural that everything’s acceptable- or is there just nothing substantial to rebel against? If there’s no antithesis, is there even a thesis?