Friday, November 11, 2011

The Age of Inauthenticity

I've been struggling with a love/hate relationship that has been exacerbated by my return to BYU after the summer.
I hope I don't sound to whiny about it. I love "vintage" horn-rimmed glasses from American Apparel as much as the next girl. I swoon over sheets from Anthropologie. I like those huge faux leather bags they have at Urban Outfitters. But I'm getting annoyed at how easily I'm being manipulated by their marketing. I feel the image that we are being sold is a relatively intelligent and tasteful one.

Cool girls dress like this:

They do tweed rides:

They are well-read:

They take photographs with "vintage" lenses from their iPhone:

And it's great, lovely fun. But I'm kind of getting tired of it. What is our generation going to be remembered for? Being nostalgic for something we never had. Innovation presses forward, but our lifestyles are looking back. Why?

I finally read this article from the New York Times a few weeks ago.
Here are some selected highlights:

“People are looking for things that are authentic,” he said. “I think it started happening after 2001: first there was 9/11, followed by recession. There was a certain exhaustion with the shiny and perfect. People didn’t relate to it anymore.” But the vintage and artisanal, he said, “will resonate with people as long as we live in these times.” Maybe not with everyone, though. As Dmitri Siegel put it: “When you pile Etsy on top of Etsy, it gets really cacophonous: ‘Everything in here is totally unique!’ It starts canceling itself out.”
"Reality Based" from Brooklyn writes in the comments section:
Last evening whilst walking on my urban Brooklyn block I was bemoaning the apogee of faux or "vintage" life-styling seeing another group of suspender and tweed clad hipsters pretend to be a jug band. They were performing a horrendously unmusical, "rootsy" version of the spiritual "When I Die" inside a new bar built to mimic some half baked idea of "vintage authenticity". This impulse to deny the truth of the cultural and political moment and instead seek refuge in an imagined virtualized "cozy" past seems to me the apogee of indulgent sentimentalist decadence.
And then there is this article from DoubleX.

That quirky, vintage, cuteness... it's all being relentlessly marketed to us. They make a profit off of our desire to be authentic, creative and smart.  I am getting tired of it. Just new ways to market uniqueness and nostalgia.

I find my self craving minimalism. Maybe do something like this? I have a strong desire to throw away all the clothes I have. I would find a simple dress. I would wear it everyday. I would let my actions and words define who I am. Oh, you know. Something along these lines: (though that yellow bag would have to go. I wouldn't want any semblance of personality)

And then I will take everything off my walls. I will rip off the sheets from by bed. Take all the knick-knacky things off the shelves. Turn my space into a space like this. 

Yes, that's about right. 
Spartan. Clean. A blank slate.
I would need to get rid of that gaudy pillow though.

I guess this isn't really any more authentic than the fake authenticity being sold to us.
But I like a simple life.
Have any of you guys felt that way before?

1 comment:

  1. I have been feeling the same way ever since I entered the "Pinterest world". It's hard to know what's unique anymore and I'm beginning to wonder what I really like myself. Do I like something just because everyone else does? It's becoming exhausting. This was refreshing. Thanks Gretchen.