My Damn Generation

If I learned anything from my Youth Cultures class, it’s that, while Split Enz may have been right about most things, history definitely repeats…each new generation thinks its culture is so revolutionary, their culture so new, that nothing like it has ever been seen before…however, youth cultures and movements work in cycles as each generation grows up to become the thing it had previously rebelled against…in short, your parents did the same things to freak out your grandparents when they were young that you do to your parents now…

When I recall my years in high school, it’s not often done with sepia-toned nostalgia…rather, I look back on several years of my own creativity and identity blossoming in an otherwise culturally stagnant environment…one of the things that I do remember fondly were the coffee house-inspired showcases that I helped organize and perform with a few like-minded friends…I remember being a newcomer to the school in 7th grade and sitting through a junior- and senior-dominated coffee house in awe…everything the older students did just oozed effortless cool…when I was a freshman, nothing was cooler than if a senior talked to you or wanted to be friends…by the time I got to be a senior myself, though, the landscape had changed quite drastically…I went through high school during Web 2.0’s formative years, before everyone had a blog or MySpace, and when Facebook was still just for college students…I remember signing up for Instant Messenger in 9th grade so I could work on an assignment for my Spanish class and finding that I enjoyed IM’ing friends far more than talking on the phone (something that’s still true today)…when I got to 12th grade in 2005, just about everyone (including the freshmen) had a place for themselves on the internet or, at the very least, a cell phone…we seniors weren’t cool anymore…what was cool was having drama between people in your grade, just like they do on television…the youth may not have specifically been “seduced by the greedy hands of politicians and half truths,” but the synthetic, materialistic world of MTV and Hollister had engulfed the lives of those barely four years younger than I…and so began my fascination with my damn generation…

I didn’t know any of them back in 2005, but there are these people called Hipsters…though I only came in contact with this subculture within the past few years, I have become all too familiar with their uncaring, irony-embracing ways…admittedly, a lot of the music I listen to can be classified as Hipster-hype driven, but I subscribe to the “If I like it, I’ll listen to it” philosophy, and that’s served me pretty well…they show up in their tight jeans and thrift store sweaters to your favorite record store in search of a new vinyl pressing of an album you’ve never heard of…they take time away from their PBR’s to descend on your favorite concert venue, leaving it never to return unless their favorite band’s electroclash sideproject tours again (which they won’t)…they dictate and don’t follow…they think they’re the first to act this way, and, of course, they’re not…

Earlier this week, Y-Rock hosted an album listening party…the record we played was the forthcoming from Hipster culture’s idols, Animal Collective…again, I like some of the band’s work, but a lot of it is just too much for me…I respect their creativity, though, a courtesy that most Hipsters would be slow to offer to a band they don’t like…in preparation for this listening party (the first one I had ever been to, let alone help host), I posted a listing for it on a music-centric social networking site…I fielded a few questions about the nature of the event through the site’s message board on the days leading up to it, and the listing had amassed nearly 30 responses from users who planned on attending…the event itself was neat, if a bit unusual…we did a standard amount of station promotion, and got more people to sign up for our giveaway than we have gotten at some concerts…it was only until I got home and read the post-event comments that I though that the event was an overall success…

True to Hipster form, the comments that were left since the event took place ranged from “This was lame” to “This was pointless”…I did my best to lift their spirits and snap them out of their self-induced funk by offering to take suggestions for future listening parties which, Hipsters be damned, will be happening soon…their ‘suggestions’ detailed their extraordinarily high expectations for the Animal Collective party, including “light projections,” “information on other artists” and “surveys of some kind”…I would have pretty much given up on trying to communicate to youths and even some people my own age who behave this way were it not for my being reminded that these cultures are cyclical…

When I went to see Camper Van Beethoven the night after the listening party, I ran into my 8th grade history teacher, who was also going to see the show…we talked about how things have changed since I graduated, both in myself and in the school (I have since become a happy college student/DJ, it has since moved to a new location and been renamed…and people think I’ve changed!)…with the previous night’s silliness still wearing on my nerves and buzzing in my mind, I couldn’t help but ask if, culturally, things were still the same at school…she assured me that there are a few up-and-coming students who show the same kind of thirst for the arts as I and my friends did, but that a lot of the students are so enveloped in their own world of egos and the internet that there was indeed a lull in artistic activity for a few years after I graduated…I didn’t mean to pat myself on the back, but I couldn’t help but feel some pride having been at a transition point between flucuations in cultural activity in high school…

The moral of the story is this: if you’re not involved with some kind of art culture, get involved…if you cannot perform or create art yourself, then seek it out as a spectator…if you are an artist, show off your art and inspire…if you are a Hipster or similarly-behaving youth, lighten the hell up…you’ll thank me later…


~ by E. on January 10, 2009.

2 Responses to “My Damn Generation”

  1. As they say, “Youth is wasted on the young.”
    Very astute observations.

  2. Kudos for a great post!

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