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movies / April 4, 2012

Don’t know if you’ve ever seen a mumblecore film. Probably not, if only because the term “mumblecore” is so twee and horrible, it would instinctively repel you. It’s a millennial American film development, around for quite a while now but not widely known outside indie film circles, and for good reason. Fantastically boring films. Known for being deliberately torpor-inducing. It’s a point of real pride to mumblecore filmmakers that nothing much happens in their films, and what doesn’t happen unfolds very, very slowly and naturalistically.

If you want your dictionary.com definition, here it is:

Main Entry: mumblecore
Part of Speech: n
Definition: a genre of low-budget movies using nonprofessionals to depict mundane post-college or early adult existence
Example: The term “mumblecore” was coined by Eric Masunaga, a sound editor.
Etymology: 2002

I avoided these films, of course, realizing they’d be my kryptonite. And so it proved, when I finally watched one. As maddening as an all-over rash while at the same time, paralyzingly dull, deeply depressing, ultimately debilitating. Be warned! If you’ve never experienced M and you want to experiment, make sure there’s no gun in the house! You’ll use it!

The film I watched was called Mutual Appreciation, because I was told by a fan of the form that it was highly representative. It’s the second film directed by Andrew Bujalski, sometimes referred to as “the godfather of mumblecore” because his debut film, Funny Ha Ha in 2002, is supposedly the first one of these toxins ever introduced into the American filmmaking system.


As is typical in these films, I gather, Mutual Appreciation features white hetero twenty-somethings from middle-class-to-affluent backgrounds leading vague indeterminate lives which are minutely observed as if those lives were interesting, which they are not. Some have “McJobs”; all have no idea what to do with themselves beyond giving various “creative” projects a try, like halfhearted performance art stuff or blandly alternative rock bands that go nowhere. They drift in and out of semi-relationships and speak in inarticulate, inconclusive phrases which represent their undramatic “lives of lowered expectations.”

The non-pro actors, all extraordinarily homely even beyond what you see on the streets, run to sad weedy little guys and aggressively plain women. In a lot of mumblecore films, apparently, performers play versions of themselves, working out their own character development and improvising their lines, though supposedly director Bujalski scripts all his films thoroughly. In Mutual Appreciation, dweeby indie rocker Justin Rice plays a dweeby indie rocker presumably a lot like Justin Rice, performing Justin Rice’s band’s music. Bujalski plays the other main character, the froggy-faced guy in thick glasses.


Don’t dream that there’ll be anything or anyone you’ll want to look at just to distract yourself!

Mutual Appreciation is a crappy-looking film in a tame, undistinctive, messy black-and-white way. I gather that’s another point of mumblecore pride, a DIY aesthetic, rendered harmless. Whereas a deliberately raw, ugly aesthetic achieved on the cheap can be great and electrifying (see punk rock, “The Aesthetic of Hunger” film manifesto, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, etc.), here it’s just…well, I don’t know what it is. I don’t know if they know what it is. A producer of wry smiles and self-hugs? “Yeah, we sure are screwed, but it looks kinda cute on us, especially when we wear ironic knitted caps with earflaps and things.”


The kindest thing I could say about the film is, maybe I didn’t get it. It seemed to me there was a conspicuous quality of smug self-congratulation in the film that hardly seemed possible given how fundamentally repugnant the whole thing was, so I asked the fan who recommended it what the effect of it was supposed to be. Was it supposed to be funny, or charming or something? Were you supposed to recognize yourself in these characters and feel fond of them and amused by their foibles? Yep, he said. All of the above.

Which, to me, was astounding, having that suspicion confirmed. I had held out one tiny sliver of hope that the film was actually supposed to be an annihilating satire, a kind of “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper” scenario, and it was just too subtle for me and I missed it. But no. No!

Here’s the only good side-effect of the film: after the initial weary despair that cripples you, it makes you want desperately to feel the blood circulating in your veins, to act decisively, to feel intensely, to believe fiercely, and to be as overly, fulsomely articulate as a classically trained orator holding forth in complete paragraphs.

Anything to be NOT like these people. The characters, the filmmakers, or the fans, who seem to be all mixed up together in a thin soup of unjustified millennial self-love. Why do these people love themselves so much? I don’t get it. Just because they’re not baby boomers, who are hoarding all the jobs and pensions and all? Baby boomers are loathsome, sure, most people are loathsome, but it’s no answer to be merely DIFFERENTLY loathsome. That doesn’t make you any good!

The fan tried to explain it to me, why mumblecore milleniallism is preferrable. He says previous generations, even Generation Xers, in their films, have a tendency to, uh…be, uh…kinda…to tend to, like, build up to something uh…melodramatic? And that was uh….that was uh….

Bad, I gathered. That was bad. Mumblecore millennials, they keep their blood pressure down and their pulse rates level at all times, and that’s some sort of positive virtue or something, even if it never leads to anything, not even a complete sentence.


John Dolan has a theory about all this:

Mumblecore sounds to me like something that could be very tidily explained in Marxist terms: The development of an aesthetics and accompanying ideology that’ll make the sudden squeeze [of America’s economy] into boardroom elite and mass of losers more palatable.

So this is how the formerly privileged make the Big Squeeze feel okay to them, by pretending they’re still superior in a million tiny, precious ways not discernible to the naked eye.

I know, I’m generalizing a lot from watching one film. But the thing is, I don’t think I can risk seeing another; I might have a rage-and-boredom-induced stroke midway through. Just the titles of some of them: The Puffy Chair, In Search of a Midnight Kiss, LOL, Sorry, Thanks….I don’t think I can do it. Any readers who might’ve seen some of this stuff, please advise: how stroke-inducing are they, exactly?


The fan told me I might like the Duplass Brothers’ films, which have a bit more liveliness, perhaps. (Also that the Duplasses claim to love the Coen Brothers’ film Raising Arizona, because it’s so “performance-based.” I don’t even understand what that means.) Mumblecore’s been crossing over into the mainstream with films like the Duplasses’ Cyrus last year and now their Jeff Who Lives at Home, currently in theaters. It seems there’s a sort of merger happening between mumblecore filmmaking and the Judd Apatow comedy troupe, the fan said, and that means there’ll be more of this stuff around the multiplex, not just at film festivals and indie/art-house theaters in New York and LA.

So look out: more mumblecore millennialism is whimpering its way toward a theater near you.

 

 

 

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99 Comments

Add your own

  • 1. jimmythehyena  |  April 5th, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Maybe a mumble core film like “Weekend” would be amusing. A couple of basement dwelling American millenial’s mothers have learned on “Oprah” (blessed be her name) that those little birds need to be eased out of the nest and take to their own wings. They end up in the grips of sinister Jim Jones like cult group in Eastern Europethat originally set up as a coporate false flagoperation but has now to having to get along by it’s own devices. The top sellers are rewarded with drugs alcohol firearms sex and other fun stuff and those that don’t meet their sales quota are subjected to increasingly brutal degrading and vile treatment in order to motivate them. Sort of a synthesis of Salò and Glengary Glenross.It’s not apriori an anti basement dweller film, (I almost became a basement dweller myself but my mother drank herself to death [I’m just saying that you fuckers should stand up and take back the sense of reality that has been taken from you, it seems like they’re millions of you should all take a bus,a train or hop a freight, or hitch hike or use any other means of transport to get to Wall Street. Carry sac full rice ans beans and blanket with a hole cut in it too either wear as a poncho and a plastic withe a hole into to wear in the rain. Bivouacing helped other armies when great victories hopefully it will do te same for you?

  • 2. Mr. Bad  |  April 5th, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Well, at least “Tiny Furniture” had a few leftover larfs in it. I guess you could call it a crossover mumblecore? Sure, the whole genre sucks – but why pick on Millenials? Their values, like their movies, are homely, without value and utterly dispensable – totally reflective of their lives and our future. The impossibility of political change in the US of A is as stifling to the imagination as any hippie pot haze – they are a generation awaiting some kind of deliverance by death – only global thermonuclear war, massive economic or environmental catastrophe/collapse will provide the opportunity to end their miserable collective existence.

    Ask Yasha – you can beat the rap but you can’t beat the ride sweet-cheeks, the powers that be have figured out you can inflict more cruel and unusual punishment WITHOUT a conviction than with one. Just give up and make a stupid movie about giving up to pass the time. Makes sense to me.

  • 3. super390  |  April 5th, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    #33:

    So was rock and roll, from the day Elvis signed with RCA. Yet the cynical ploy to manufacture rebellious youth culture with no point nearly backfired when the possibility of getting drafted in Vietnam created a point.

    There’s plenty of points now. The studios are so desperate to stay ahead of their own runaway expenses that they don’t even care about the consequences of filming movies
    like “V For Vendetta”, or eventually, “Mockingjay.”

  • 4. jonnym  |  April 5th, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    I see this crap as an extension of the 90s slacker thing. Back then, a group of disenchanted young people from suburban, middle-class backgrounds said fuck it and walked away from ideas like striving for a nice house and a “good” job. Not many, but just enough to scare a few conservative types into writing articles about them.

    Now, these disenchanted young people from suburban, middle-class backgrounds are doing the same but they’re pretending they’re artists or creative types to justify it. What happened to just telling the suits to just fuck off? Why make up excuses? But I guess it’s not about the suits, it’s about them. Maybe they’re lying to themselves so they don’t feel like losers.

    Same end result, though — a generation that chooses to defang itself. But at least the 90s slackers made some decent music, had some fun with the Internet and rediscovered weed. These kids seem to be happy just pretending they’re misunderstood artsy teenagers until they’re 28.

  • 5. Mike C.  |  April 5th, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Thanks for this fucking review!

    I’ve always wondered why boring, overrated assholes like Jason Schwartzman, or Sofia Coppola, and their magnification of their own tedium seemed like such a hideous blight on the culture. I’ve heard so much fluff about them, none of the eviscerating critiques they merit. I don’t know or care whether their work falls officially under this nauseating label, but they certainly draw from the same perverted ethos that anything any 22-year-old could possibly do, no matter how bloodless and mundane, is potentially interesting to watch.

    If the Boomers were, as Thompson put it, “A generation of permanent cripples,” my own generation (which I’m only narrowly a part of) has degenerated into permanent children—prematurely wallowing in nostalgia, obsessing over pop culture, childhood memories, and kitsch: pirates, ninjas, zombies. They have pillow fights and wear eyepatches, they eat cupcakes and self-consciously sing the praises of bacon. They grow ironic beards, and get ironic tattoos of ironic beards. They “heart” things, and get excited about children’s books, movies, and toys.

    Both men and women participate in this shit! My god, have you no self-respect?!

    We’ve made strides in tolerance, and openness to more humane economic theories, if only by exposure and ideological apathy, respectively, but it’s like no one notices how fucking emasculating and pitiful the culture has become.

  • 6. Sturgeon Slaw  |  April 5th, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    That picture … sure, as a boomer I may be loathsome, but I’ve never EVER been lame enough to pick up a fucking ukulele, let alone think it was acceptable to be filmed playing one. Or whatever it is you do when you hold one of the goddamned things, besides looking like a feeble goggle-eyed genetic defective.

    I don’t feel so bad now, leaving the world so screwed up, knowing how pathetic you little cumstains turned out. Twee and cutesy sensitive millennial pain my ass – give me loathsome every time.

  • 7. Destro  |  April 5th, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    I have to say comment #32 by Diablo was right on the money. I am about the same age difference he is and the college age kids he deals with and they just don’t know anything pop culturally of any note. I am guessing because I grew up when they ran reruns of old movies and cartoons I was able to pick up who Bob Hope to Bugs Bunny and his WW2 war bond references were all about but these kids know nothing. I mentioned Bugs Bunny because I had a change to make them watch a Bugs Bunny cartoon (long story) and I got all the old Hollywood actors being caricatured and the WW2 references in the cartoon and the kids were clueless. They laughed like they were a mindless sitcom laugh track but did not know why it was funny or why. Fucking weird.

  • 8. bulfinch  |  April 5th, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    I was making small talk with a girl of about 20 or so the other day and happened to mention I’d been out to Joshua Tree last spring; “Oh that must’ve been nice,” she said, “wasn’t there a Beatles album by that name?”

  • 9. Mr. Bad  |  April 5th, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    There is a global picture too, this kind of shit is informed by the total victory of corporate totalitarian global ass fucking in the postwar era. These kids are NO FUCKING USE TO ANYONE. And they know it. One thing this world has plenty of is life, too much of it, especially expensive first world cunts like the millenials. Up until the advent of the AK-47 and the Atom Bomb (all of human history, basically) these kids would have value as soldiers or soldier making machines – up until M.A.D. level nuclear stockpiles were established there was really no nation that was ever safe from the threat of invasion and occupation. Massive nuclear stockpiles make that kind of war obsolete, and Vietnam, Afghanistan, etc. shows to go you an AK-47 can beat a B-52 long term. Point is: Why not be a pussy, play a ukelele? War has always been a means for people to “move up” the social ladder in all sorts of ways, on and off the battlefield. These kids are doomed because they won’t die, won’t be killed and live in a world where there will never, ever, be enough decent jobs to go around. They know they’re pissing people off being so fucking worthless, that’s the point, mumblecore is deliberately bad, boring art – a big fuck you to the people with something to live for who want “entertainment”. Still sucks though.

  • 10. Yogurt Economy  |  April 5th, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    TIny Furniture is a semi-acceptable mumblecore movie, but it’s cross-strained with a more ’90s axe for middle class white people to grind: being an ugly fat loser in a society of winners. The key thing is economic for mumblecore

  • 11. SolInvictus  |  April 6th, 2012 at 1:56 am

    No wonder zombies are so popular now. Seems like the early to mid-20s generation quite literally are zombies.

  • 12. suit  |  April 6th, 2012 at 4:07 am

    Didn’t we already go through this in the 1990’s, with all those bland talking-head movies? Although I don’t think the principle actors were as ugly and dweeby back then. Sorry, I didn’t get halfway through your article before my attention span crapped out because im drunk, but I’m a big fan of yours. But, yeah, seriously fuck this shit.

  • 13. ct  |  April 6th, 2012 at 7:03 am

    Gol-ly, everyone has a cultural theory eh? You guys are forgetting that, to a large extent, these people (as much as you can say about images on a flickering screen) are products of specific socio-politico-economic conditions of urban areas. Complete passivity (are YOU going to antagonize the state to which it can label you criminal? the police state is utterly massive today), bad economic conditions, the sense that all is out there for the taking yet being hamstrung by any decency and intelligence left in you. That’s where the Culture Industry failed: it produced too much, gave the masses too many different viewpoints on life and people. We say to ourselves “this can’t be all i’m living for.”

    Come on guys, resist the urge to be bitter internet juggernauts. We’re all essentially putting on a mask here, this forum’s hemingwayesque militant author sensibility. I agree, it’s frustrating to see people this weak. But isn’t that why we’re into leftism in the first place?

  • 14. radii  |  April 6th, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    no mention of the godfather of this genre – Slacker? so-called mumblecore is a mind-set and it’s been around since the Xers were king of the indie film scene: self-indulgent, self-impressed nothing people seeking attention

  • 15. jonnym  |  April 6th, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    @64: There’s Slacker but there’s also Clerks, Reality Bites, S.F.W. and a couple of others. Same basic deal as this crap, with one major difference: That 90s self-indulgence didn’t have the pretention to artiness that this newer stuff does. The 90s crowd were losers and regular schmucks, they knew it, they rolled with it. They weren’t trying to be desperately self-analyzing as a feeble stab at humor, or “ironically” clever by *not* being clever, like this new movement tries to be.

    I guess you could argue the earlier expression of self-indulgent ennui in the 90s had more integrity in that sense. But that seems like arguing over who’s the tallest midget.

  • 16. Jay  |  April 6th, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    So they’ve combined the worst feature of real life, which is that the people involved are not capable of being entertaining at anything like a professional level, with the worst feature of movies, which is that the people involved will never give you attention or money or sex or even babysitting services, to create a supersized jumbo meal of futility.

    Are they British? This seems oddly British to me.

  • 17. DtD  |  April 6th, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    This shit does NOT represent my generation, just another freakshow fringe that is having trouble coping with transgenerational theft(like the rest of us). Some of us Occupied, some of us retreated into inebriation (looking at you @41)and hermitage. Some did both. . .like yours truly.
    Speaking of which, Strophe, you should try Alaska. Wrangell Mountains area are pretty damned empty. If you don’t mind freezing ur nuts off in winter, like I did for 3 years, it really is quite educational. Eating only what you shoot or grow teaches you quite a bit about yourself. Only problem is you are kinda ignoring the hellfire to the south in the lower 48, where your family and friends are. I eventually needed to get back into the fight.

    DrunktankDan

  • 18. DtD  |  April 6th, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    oh and 2 things:

    1:Do you guys get a cut of the Amazon purchases or do u just get paid for click throughs?

    2: How fucking dare you cocktease us with Dolan like that?! At least we know he isn’t dead. I suppose that is something.

  • 19. Mr. Bad  |  April 6th, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    @ 63

    Yes, I think “hemingwayesque militant author sensibility” is exactly the point. At least he got to loot Paris and shoot surrendered Germans… speaking of which my local PD has a ten person SWAT team, all ex military, see them at the range, obviously killers and great shots with their personal weapons and AR’s. You can come and “liberate” my little town anytime you like with your army of millenial badasses, let me know when it’s safe to come out and vote.

  • 20. Wilt Chamberlain  |  April 6th, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    Conan the Steroidian on the purpose of, like, life: “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.” There it is,a crisp declarative answer, laid out like fresh posole. It just don’t get no better. As a snotnosed Österreich kid attempting his first presses and squats in the woods around Graz, the non-pro Conan could grunt with the best: “Unnngh” and “Yeccchh” were crisply delivered, the envy of all. When he finally climbed the Grossglockner and declared, “I go California make fucking movies,” no one doubted him.

    Now we get this mumblecore dross dumped in our laps. Just one more thing to obsess about. Thanks alot for nothing.

    Why don’t Conan return my calls?

  • 21. hey joe  |  April 7th, 2012 at 12:07 am

    I’m going to prison in two weeks.

  • 22. Mr. Bad  |  April 7th, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    @63

    Maybe it’s simply classical decline played out through pop culture? Any sort of idiotic thesis should be enough to generate a “serious” response. From “Ohio” to “Ignoreland” to what? “American Idiot”? LOL, maybe I’m just sitting this bronze age bullshit out…

  • 23. Mr. Bad  |  April 7th, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Translation: Maybe nobody should give a fuck.

  • 24. jimmythehyena  |  April 8th, 2012 at 6:54 am

    What would be fun is a movie that starts out mumble core but turns into a serial killer flick.

  • 25. Corny Rambo Man  |  April 8th, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Quote from Big Gay Baby: “People in their early 20s have always been self-involved idiots primarily concerned with getting high, fucking, and wearing clothes that increase the chances of the first two happening”

    @Big Gay Baby: That’s the point, – the current 20s generation is NONE OF THOSE THINGS! Their fun instincts have long atrophied, replaced by bleak depressing emptiness and lack of opinion.

    The fucking emo goths are more fun than these low watt testosterone-challenged zombies.

  • 26. Tommo  |  April 8th, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Now you all understand what it’s like to live in West End, Brisbane, Australia :(

  • 27. Big Gay Baby  |  April 8th, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    @Corny Rambo Man. Rambo man–could you elaborate on how/why you perceive that the current 20s generation’s ability to have fun has atrophied. I would be interested in your opinion. My own is that this generation is not necessarily fun-challenged, but that the very nature of “fun” in the Dennis-Hopper-editing-the-Last-Movie-in-Taos while hacking through 60s earth momma muff like Pizarro through the Amazon, tripping balls, and exploring all these “new ways to be human, man” has lost almost all of its Romanticism and mystique. Drugs and fucking are banal now. This is what happens when 13 year olds are dosed with steady diets of Behind the Music and bukkake porn. It’s not that kids in their 20s aren’t getting laid or fucked-up (they are) but that they don’t have the compulsion to broadcast that persona to the outside world like the hippies or punks did because we know that its all a bunch of hot air. Youthful folly is always just youthful folly. It doesn’t mean anything. This is why no one self-identifies as a hipster. Shit is still going on, but it’s all DL now (wouldn’t want any of those stoned pictures to appear on Facebook). We know that the 60s, punk, grunge, whatever failed to paint it black. So, yeah, the earnestness of those movements is lacking in our viewpoint, and perhaps you interpret that as our “bleak depressing emptiness”. But at the end of the day, can you really blame us? We grew up having to listen to your stories about how awesome California was in the 60s and how important the scene in New York was in the late 70s, but we were born into a fucking Orwellian nightmare that you bastards created after you finished sowing your wild oats. And then we have to listen to you fucks tell us how lame we are. Does the narcissism of you people know no end? Maybe we aren’t getting “high” to, you know, like, feel one with the universe like you did, but we are using drugs and sex to get numb so we can better cope with this shit country you’ve left us to fix.

  • 28. Mike C.  |  April 8th, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Oh, for the love of fuck…

    One of the “stars” of “Funny Ha Ha” turns out to be Christian Rudder, who was involved in a site called Spark. It was sort of interesting when he’d pull slow, lo-fi acts of self-harm, like giving himself Athlete’s Foot to see if pissing on it worked (it didn’t), making two volunteers try to get fat over the course of a month (they failed, but were still fat), or creepily setting his sister up on dates and spying on them through a fake smoke detector (she figured it out, but didn’t kill him like you’d hope), but then the site crapped out (giving way to several stupider sites, one of which is SparkNotes, demonstrating that the founders peaked during academia).

    But by far the most appalling thing that ever happened was he promoted his band on the site. It was to music what the rest of this shit is to everything else. I can even remember the song. And, fuck you, here it is:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ym9ffD4bqM

    I knew I hated it (it’d be unnatural not to), but again I have to thank Eileen and Dolan for so frequently articulating WHY I’ve hated the things I’ve simply been hating wordlessly.

  • 29. Mike C.  |  April 9th, 2012 at 3:44 am

    Sorry, I did a terrible job at summing that all up.

    I’d meant to say, in that Spark stunt, that the contenders were trying to gain x number of pounds in a span of time, and that they failed technically, but were still fat.

    And that the band in question is the same repulsive thing that shelters Rice from the cruel realities that should have duly broken him long ago.

  • 30. Maus  |  April 9th, 2012 at 11:50 am

    @59: “These kids are NO FUCKING USE TO ANYONE.”

    Hahahaahaha, you think that this generation is any more useless than the others. This is why nostalgia is terrible.

  • 31. Flatulissimo  |  April 9th, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    @77 – You may have some good points. But, who is your rant directed towards, exactly? Boomers? Gen X? Xer’s are too young to know shit about 70’s NYC, because we were just being born then. We’ve been hearing about the 60’s forever, too, and were just as much born into the shitty Orwellian nightmare that the Boomers created. So, if you are gonna place blame, at least pick the right folks to lay it on.

    I never liked the “Gen X” name, and I never felt I shared much with those of my age cohort, found them to be mostly worthless twats, actually. 90’s music, movies and literature were shit, for the most part (with a very few exceptions that gave me some hope and kept me from slitting my wrists).

    I was hoping the kids coming after would be less lame than my peers at that age. All my life, I thought these other assholes sucked, and I was all ready to align myself with the Millenials when they came around. Instead, they are proving to be even worse than my shitty Gen X peers were at their age.

  • 32. Big Gay Baby  |  April 9th, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    @Flatulissimo. My rant wasn’t really directed at any one generation per se (though the baby boomers’ fecklessness is pretty hard to ignore), and really I think all this inter-generational bile is actually pretty counterproductive and self-indulgent, but it sure is fun! Obviously there are cool people, art, etc. in every generation, but generalizations do usually have at least a kernel of truth in them. Interesting that you found 90s culture so barren, I actually thought it was somewhat of an underrated cultural decade. I’m 100% certain that this has to do with the fact that I was in my early teens then and first discovering film, music, art, etc. “Nevermind” sounded pretty fucking epic when you were 12 (I’m 28 now). Had I been 22, probably not so much. I guess what kind of bums me out about Gen-X–and it sounds like you too–is the passive/aggressive culture of resignation that sprung up around it. Say what you will about the hippies, but those dudes at least had some fucking exuberance about them. Sure, a lot of it looks pretty embarrassing now, but it least they were going for it, you know. Even the punks and hardcore managed to channel some vivacity into their bleak, nihilistic outlook. They meant it. Gen-X always seemed to be on the outside of the quotation marks looking in. Too cool for school. Too cool to risk possible embarrassment. Hiding in their warm cocoon of irony while the world went to shit around them (Ames has a great article about some rally in Washington from a couple of years back that really analyzes this well) This legacy has unfortunately been passed down–and even amplified–in the millenials. Irony and stoicism have always been the defense mechanism of slaves (Gen-Xrs who knew they weren’t going to break through the baby boomer-constructed gray ceiling, Millenials who basically don’t have a chance to break into anything), and maybe it’s not even necessarily a bad choice–certainly you can understand how circumstances could push one in that direction. It is, however, perfectly antithetical to how youth should be led–rash, unpredictable, willing to fuck up, willing to look stupid, try new things, and basically behave like a wild fucking animal. And that’s what a majority of Gen-X and the Millenials are missing out on, and too bad for them. Hopefully this isn’t a permanent shift in youth culture, though I do fear that things like the internet have a way of heightening the self-reflexivity of modern life (i.e. I better not participate in the wet T-shirt contest in Key West during spring break because someone might snap a picture of me on their I-phone and then it will be on facebook and then the company who might offer me a job will ask for my facebook password and then they’ll see the picture of the wet T-shirt contest and then I won’t get a job). All of this shit kills spontaneity and keeps people protected in the warm blanket of their high school and college friends who still send them status updates on facebook even though they live 700 miles away from me! Aren’t I loved! I’ve also noticed that the scene these days is very ageist. I don’t know if they’ve just been completely brainwashed by the advertising world’s obsession with youth, but people as young as 19 these days are seriously terrified of getting older. For real. This fear of aging is then projected onto older people, so you have a situation where essentially lobotomized 19 year olds who have zero life experience are convinced that they are the shit just by virtue of being young and are wholly uninterested in even talking to someone over 30. Sounds like this might be part of your experience with millenials, Flatulissmo? Like I said, I’m 28, and people just 5 or 6 years younger than me seem to exist in a completely different world. I actually identify more with Gen-Xrs in a lot of ways. Maybe technology accelerates generation gaps? I don’t know. Maybe this is more of an American phenomenon? I know from experience travelling in Eastern Europe that this is not an issue there–no one would bat an eye if a girl in her early 20s was with a 40 year old dude. Which makes so much more sense when you think about it. Like, okay, 40 year old guy, I’ll let you fuck me for a couple of months if you agree to expose me to some cool culture and make me a more interesting person. Imagine this sort of thing happens in parts of Western Europe too–prob France, Spain, Italy I would guess. Wonder of European Millenials are as lame as their American counterparts? Would love to hear other people’s opinions, find this a fascinating subject…

  • 33. Exi  |  April 9th, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Jesus, I can’t believe people here are not passionately hating “Tiny Furniture”, it’s the same shitty shit as all the other low-budget mumblecore films, only with a woman, and as a feminist myself, I’m really sick of talentless hacks getting appraisal just for being ‘brave’ enough to drag their flabby carcasses in front of a camera.
    Being frumpy is not an achievement.

  • 34. Bigode  |  April 9th, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    @82: I`m curious – do you think 20-year old men should do the same with 40-year old women?

  • 35. Big Gay Baby  |  April 10th, 2012 at 8:12 am

    @Bigode. Yes, of course. Though I do think biology dictates that it will be a rarer phenomenon because it is less common for a 40+ woman to remain competitively fuckable than a 40+ man.

  • 36. Bigode  |  April 10th, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Well … OK, I just don`t think you`re gonna have much success getting the Russians to agree with you that it could go either way. But it`s you who actually went there – I could be wrong.

  • 37. Aaron  |  April 11th, 2012 at 3:04 am

    I’m gonna be eighty years old in a nursing home (should I live so long) and I’m still going to be hearing everyone left who’s my age talking about how much more awesome they are than everyone else left who’s my age.

  • 38. Jesse  |  April 11th, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    “loathsome boomers.” the most loathsome thing about boomers is they were the first to champion the idea of generationalism: that a generation has a consciousness and can be organically different from another generation.

    The idea that the young have this spontaneous culture that we invented because we are smarter wiser hipper cooler than our parents who don’t know shit.

    ignorance and inexperience as a path to wisdom

    divide and conquer

    another fault line to exploit to keep the people separated
    add it to gender, race, sexual preference and other identity politics

    “my generation”– the who

    h.s. class of…

    frankfurt school
    narcisstic consumerism
    conceited tunnel vision

    western chauvinism seeing changes in consumer products like women’s fashion and automobile bodies as evidence of cosmic shifts in inevitable unstoppable march of human cultural evolution.
    cargo cult.
    as if people are ever really different in any generation
    “the world is so different today” meaning cell phones etc. but morphing into “people are different today” meaning nothing but bullshit based on a tiny progression of consumer fads in a small, highly top down consumerist petrie dish in a madison avenue laboratory.

    we werent hated for our long hair or music. we were deservedly hated for our generational conceit.

    every generation ( meaning every able adult living at that particular moment) has had the power to change their world. fear and a lack of solidarity stopped them.

    all the newness craze shit foisted on us for decades is the source of generationalism. flatter youth and sell them shit because they are so “different”. you need new different better stuff because you are new and different and better than the old. so this shit comes out of the same ad agency and fighting about it makes as much sense as beating the shit out of each other out of loyality to different sit coms made by the same studio.

  • 39. Andrew Harris  |  April 11th, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Yea I haven’t seen much outside of the Duplass brothers’ films, but I really liked: baghead, humpday, and cyrus. I thought the puffy chair was aesthetically boring and I wasn’t too interested in the story or what it amounted to either.

    I think you’re, for the most part, correct, but I would never suggest writing off an entire genre or medium. That’s just me.

    I’d suggest watching Cyrus and then going backwards, maybe?

  • 40. Big Gay Baby  |  April 11th, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    @ Jesse. Game. Set. Match. What a great post. Best analysis of this I’ve ever seen. Makes me rethink everything. Well-done, sir. I still think its inherently fun to dissect generational differences though, even if it is ultimately bullshit.

  • 41. eurypteris  |  April 12th, 2012 at 12:34 am

    Just thought I’d share: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pt9wnawn7xQ

    Starts with adorably ironic hipster mush, quickly becomes American Psycho-inspired bloodbath. Also, a very good dance tune (at least to my pathetic millenial bourgeoise taste)

    Enjoy!

  • 42. Mr. Bad  |  April 12th, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    @ Jesse

    Yup, technology, politics, war and heck even the birth and death of whole peoples and nations pretty much yields the same generational zeitgeist. Victorians, post WW2 Zionists and the average Orange County teenager are basically interchangeable and all equally preyed upon by the Madison Avenue product churn… this new consumer quality generationalism is in fact rather new and yes it is wholly manufactured. You’re right about boomers being hated for their “generational conceit”, but that’s just a fancy way of saying their spoiled cunts. In order to be spoiled cunts your parents have to be able to spoil you in the first fucking place – that’s the generational difference driver, economic reality, not the bullshit pseudoanalysis that follows in its wake. You can’t dismiss the conditions that bring about generational differences as easily as you can the nonsense cultural explanations that serve as your straw man. The problem has never been capacity (producing enough goods and services) it’s always been consumption. They fixed that, but you couldn’t do that when most people spend 100% of their income on food/shelter/booze.

  • 43. nestore  |  April 19th, 2012 at 10:41 am

    “punk rock” blows…you had credibility until you used punk rock as a gets-it-right example…punk rock was the original mumble core..a bunch of “white, hetero, twenty somethings”, making a spectacle of thier lack of mucial talent,or of anything to say.They typically had conservative republican political tendencies becasue they wanted us to make sure they werent confused with hippies(who they hated). Dweeby no-talent music critics, who make a living writing about other peoples ideas, LOVED punk rock because it was an instant, ready made “movement”, that was completely safe to the establishment. “Punk rockers” came out on friday and saturday nights to fall over drunk and puke on sidewalks then went back to thier suburban homes or teaching assistant jobs on monday morning…WHAT did “punk rock” contribute to the culture except to rob POP music of its revolutionary power and replace it with fake,fashion obsessed, capitalsim freindly “rebellion” ??? where is “punk rocks” contribution to the revolution? or to music, to art etc., etc.,

  • 44. Matt  |  April 19th, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    My friend randomly picked up Mutual Appreciation from the library years back and I’d never heard of it. Looked like the kind of stupid indie movie I hate most of the time, but I went along with watching it anyway. Surprisingly I loved it, one of my favourite movies still.

    Didn’t realize anyone even knew about it. Of all the movies to pick on, MA seems like too easy a target (tiny budget, low production value etc.)

  • 45. You rule  |  April 22nd, 2012 at 6:57 am

    You got it

  • 46. Jimmy  |  April 23rd, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    #74 – I guess it might hurt too much to mention it but they actually have one of these that turns into a slasher movie:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0878695/

  • 47. Jimmy  |  April 23rd, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    @nestore – That seems like a pretty terrible generalization. I’d say that there were quite a few decent punk statements artistically, musically, and even philosophically. I guess you could look at a band like the sex pistols and say it was rabid posturing commercialism, but I’m pretty sure the point was that it was a statement on that, while at the same time participating in it gleefully. That this was lost on a lot of angry/bored working class kids seems to be beside the point, and really, why don’t they deserve to be angry? By lumping in some of the band-wagoners and stragglers, you’re making a statement that calls out the whole ethos. I don’t buy it.

    Regardless, Mumblecore is still fucking horrendous and the people that make it are sad, sad, sad.

  • 48. zuleika  |  April 24th, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    See “Daddy Longlegs,” by the Safdie brothers. Really great.

  • 49. Chory  |  September 10th, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    Thank you for this. I’ve not so-thuroughly enjoyed reading an article in ages. You had me in stitches. Many thanks for your brilliant style and the lovely read!


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