Friday, 30 March 2007

Peaches & Snow


This image has been sterilised of all sexual overtones.

The Guardian online today had the most illuminating article I've perhaps ever read on a dead-tree-news website.

Peaches Geldof is becoming a lonely MySpace addict.

Illuminating me to the cultural snow that publications like the Guardian try to shovel off to their readers. Yellow snow.

I really should feel sympathy for a woman whose name could so conveniently be titled with 'Stewed', and whose parents are an ex-B-list popstar and a blonde whatever. Really, I should be able to feel sympathy for her. But I can't.

Because the only thing that article illustrates is a complete and total lack of understanding on so many levels. I can't even begin to sort it out. Reading that article was like looking at a technical illustration for the wasteful, over-indulged, self-absorbed capitalist Western teenager.

It brings me to the concepts I was struggling to articulate in my previous post on MySpace -- namely that it is my belief that MySpace is not allowing for a more tech-savvy youth. I would love to see a proper poll taken on the number of MySpace users who have learned a scripting code to format their profiles, vs. ones who've simply used profile editing sites that write all the code for you. The educational value of MySpace is... Limited at best. In order to learn anything - anything - from the site, you have to be looking to learn -- and if there is one thing we can learn of Peaches Geldof's amazing illustration of Western Teenage Culture, people born after 1980 are less inclined to learn and more inclined to consume.

Consume economically saturated cultural snow. Cultural Snow - this is a term quoted in Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami - a book I read first on the plane from LA to London four or so years ago, and haven't allowed to leave my side in the 5-or-so times I've moved since. Anyway. Cultural snow -- aside from having a wabi sabi like effect on my psyche -- has not been a concept I've come across anywhere else, and I'm afraid I'm not looking hard enough. But it boils down to this in my mind:

Cultural Snow, the general term for the phenomena of trends in clubs, music, fashion, eateries, MySpace, television shows -- which, regardless of their worth in the long run, have a huge surge of 'importance' and price to specific peoples. Their capita is overwhelmed and a £5 carrier bag by a small hip firm starts selling for £200 on eBay -- regardless of the fact it will be sold in Sainsbury's for a fiver come May.

Enchanting snowflakes that looked so inspiring that first day are turned yellow as the public passes over them to admire, then it all turns back into common water before long. It melts fast, this cultural snow.

And that is why today's hip teenager is sharp -- we might not be able to understand electrical engineering or sociology or botany or mathematics -- but we understand the importance of shovelling cultural snow in maintaining our identities in both Meatspace and MySpace.

In that way, we really are the children of the 1980s -- not something I am particularly proud of, to say myself.

I don't believe that it's any random occurrence that there is a resurgence of 1980s cultural icons in fashion, music styles and general aesthetics in youth culture - at least here in England. For Godssake, ask any willing young adult what drugs they've been doing when they go out and they'll tell you: it's all cocaine, with the occasional bout of ketamine. It's all relevant - it's all a reflection of what Peaches Geldof had to write about, in the end. Consume to fulfil self and attempt satisfaction at existence through use of cultural snow. Shovel, shovel, shovel. It takes a lot of energy; and if reading wilderness guides has taught me anything, it's that trying to survive out there in the wild by consuming snow will leave you very dead very quickly.

Queen of symmetry, danah boyd, says that society has ''trained our children to be narcissistic and that this is having all sorts of terrifying repercussions'', but I don't think that is the case.

There is no doubt, wait, no doubt in my mind that today's youth culture is excessively, dangerously and alarmingly narcissistic -- none what so ever. This is a world where my friends, physical, MeatSpace, real-life, University attending, normal friends, send me bulletins on MySpace asking me to put up a professionally styled advertisement for their profile in my sidebar - regardless of the fact that I have them in my Top-8 (14) already. People who have a personal profile and a 'professional' profile to display their music/films/acting/product/whatever, despite often having never officially worked in a 'professional' entertainment/arts field. Because they want people to look at them, because they want to be famous - and when I ask why, I don't get the response 'to be free', I get the response 'to be seen'. (Or did they mean 'to be scene'?) Because while many make ironic digs to Tyler Durden's immortal words -- you are not a beautiful or unique snowflake -- they do not believe it; they still hang onto the ideal that perhaps they'll be the One, the error or exception. Maybe they've gotten mixed up in the horribly amusing, macabre even, paradox that the man telling them that is in fact a fictional character written by a famous author and portrayed by an even more famous celebrity, up there on the big, wide, shinny silver screen. A modern Arcadia. But when Tyler gives his famous ...and we're very, very pissed off monologue, is he echoing a prophecy for the future?

But what Mz. boyd says, I believe, is that parents and society have taught these children to be like this. I believe that statement shows a genuine lack of faith in humanity, in that it seems to me to presume that children and young adults cannot make their own independent decisions on life and lifestyle choices. I believe that's crap -- a child can be told to be humble and still may revolt the other way. This generation has had 2000+ years of post-Roman development and history backing them up; we are alarmingly literate, and most of us have access to a bevy of information in either the library or the internet, which gives us both the pros and cons of capitalism, consumerism, narcissism, individualism and every other -ism that we could ever think to create.

It's not the parents or society's fault: it's their own.

And I doubt any of them care. In many cases, I know they don't care.

The blame game on guardians and educators can only go so far before it loses all weight in its argument. Or does self-realisation only happen at eighteen?

1 comment:

madame said...

me thinks she's shilling for subway.