I was going to call this post “Everything’s Cool, and That Ain’t Cool” or steal from Pearl Jam and say “Everything Has Changed; Absolutely Nothing’s Changed.” But there’s really not a whole lot of negative to my thoughts on this subject, so I figured I’d leave it with the simple, hopeful, calming “Everything’s Cool.” Because it is. Literally.
There was an article earlier this year in Vanity Fair that basically said that stylistically we’re exactly the same as we were in 1992…twenty years ago. The article points out that the styles of 1952 were vastly different from those of 1962, and those were different from 1972, and all of ’em were nothing like the fashions of 1982, and so on. Basically, every ten years there’s a new way of doing things, and from car designs to clothing to music. There’s a big change with each passing decade.
Not anymore. According to the article, we’re stuck in a stylistic wormhole, reliving the same things for twenty years. My initial reaction to this reality is: Um…so?
In this very blog I’ve mentioned how cool it is that I can, in this 21st century, elect to wear a wide-brimmed Fedora and listen to Operation Ivy on my way home from seeing “The Avengers” in IMAX to play Black Ops II on my HD television before switching over to TCM and watching “Invasion of the Saucer Men” or settling in for a night of Star Trek (the original series) on Netflix or reading The Dark Tower. I mean, I can literally do whatever I want from whichever time I choose. Music, books, movies, television, fashion…all mediums and all genres and all styles and so on have been archived so well over the ages that we now have the sum of EVERYTHING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED at our fingertips. That’s very powerful. I can pick up a Nook or an iPad or whatever and read Chaucer or George R.R. Martin. I can look at sketches and read translations from Copernicus or “A Brief History of Time” by Hawking. That is so incredible.
As for fashion, I’ve kind of developed the following philosophy regarding trends in fashion: FUCK FASHION. Have I been caught up in one trend or another over the years? Sure. And anyone who says otherwise is lying. I rocked a blazer with a t-shirt during the early-2000’s. But you know what I realized? I also rocked that look in the early-90’s. I was too young to really rock a blazer in the 80’s, when that seemed like the thing to do (thanks, Miami Vice!) but I’m sure I would’ve. Also, that style combo wasn’t born in the 80’s anyway. You know who started the shirt-sans-tie/blazer combo? Jed fucking CLAMPETT, that’s who.
I love this outlook in current trendy fashion. Quick: what’s the popular male hairstyle called these days? Is it the high-top fade? The buzz-cut? The side part? The pomp? The shag? I’ve seen every one of those at the mall in the last few months. What the hell is that mullet-shaven-skater cut that Skrillex is rocking? Who knows? More importantly, WHO CARES?!? Hell, I’ll make the question easier: what’s the trendy female hair style? Or hair color? The bob? The pixie? The Rachel? (remember that? Everyone wanted hair like the characters on Friends!) In a world where Miley Cyrus goes with a near-buzz cut and one out of every four chicks sports either that bright fuchsia color (sometimes just highlights) or wears shiny blue extensions, I suppose anything goes here, too. Katy Perry wears blue or pink wigs. Rockabilly chicks sport sleeve tattoos and Bettie Page ‘dos. The Katniss braid shows up here and there. Short, sexy, sassy haircuts mingle with luxurious manes of auburn curls. It’s literally all good, and it seems that for once (I am an outsider here, so forgive my naiveté) women are genuinely excited to see/meet someone with a strikingly different hair style than their own. “Oh my GOD!! I love you hair!! Who does it?!?” seems to have replaced “Uh, the 80’s called and they want their bangs back.” That’s so nice.
Sometimes I wear a suit. Like, a real suit and a tie. Sometimes I wear shorts and a hockey jersey (sidebar: nobody cares about you anymore, NHL. Not many people did before, but now? Forget it. You’ve effectively fucked yourself after an amazing playoffs including a first-ever Stanley Cup awarded to a team in the SECOND-LARGEST TELEVISION MARKET IN THE UNITED STATES! Good job, assholes. You all suck. Owners, players, etc.) Sometimes I wear a “Portal” t-shirt and some jeans. Now and then, a baby-blue guayabera shirt and some linen pants. And any time I wear one of these wardrobes in public, it’s like I don’t even get a second glance. I love second glances, because I crave attention. It’s becoming harder and harder for me to glean that oh-so-wonderful attention simply based on my clothing alone. Now I must stand in the middle of the Glenbrook Mall food court wearing nothing but an old Chick-Fil-A napkin that I’ve poked a hole in with my pecker (see, the napkin is impaled on my business) and a beaver-skin hat that I’ve set on fire before anyone even nods knowingly at me, like they’re in on some sort of joke. I must essentially be a one-man flash mob these days. It’s too much work. And the reason for that is that anything goes. Really. Literally. Anything. Wife-beater-wearing women, utilikilt sporting fellas, old-school Mod Cloth dresses and slinky tube skirts. Flat-brimmed caps with the sticker on ’em and tweed newsboy caps. High-top Chuck Taylors, black Doc Martens, leather flip-flops, two-tone wingtips, alligator skin stiletto heels. Faded blue denim jackets, Hurley hoodies, Dickies work jackets, stoner-riffic bajas. Flannel shirts, athletic-fit moisture-wicking polos, pearl-snap western shirts. All of it. It’s all good. Some of it has changed very little in the last twenty years. Some of it hasn’t changed at all in fifty years. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.
Except, of course, for one tiny little issue. The idea that maybe, just maybe…the reason that anything goes right now is that, well…there just aren’t any more ideas. Nothing new. We’ve reached the end, and so now we just recycle everything that’s already come to pass.
This theory is supported, of course, by looking at our popular entertainment choices. Hollywood is staggeringly bad, simply re-hashing or re-booting old films instead of offering original, entertaining fare. Another option, of course, is taking old television shows and making them into movies. Then again, looking at the television itself and seeing recycled shows like “Hawaii 5-0” and “Dallas” and you realize that we are indeed pretty much done giving a shit. Musically, things are as bad as they were in the woeful 1985-1991 time period, when the likes of Foreigner and Boston walked the Earth side-by-side with atrocious crap like Every Hair Metal Band. At least then we felt like something was coming. Something new and slightly dangerous was bubbling up and threatening to upset the entire music industry. I just wish I believed that something like the Grunge Revolution was going to happen again. ‘Cause I’ll tell y’all right now, the answer ain’t dubstep.
In the meantime, I suppose I’ll just have to make do. I’ll avoid the Red Dawn remake like the plague, but revel in the fact that my black leather Brando-style motorcycle jacket will always be cool. Unlike Crocs and Affliction shirts. Seriously, that crap is stupid. Stop it.