Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Cynic looks at The New Sincerity


Yesterday, I was catching up on last year’s South Park and a couple of the episodes caught me right in the gullet. Maybe I need to back up a little bit though.

Even though the Manifesto for the New Sincerity surfaced in 2006, the term itself was in use back in the mid-1980’s, even showing up in Russian literary criticism, and the basic idea is nothing new whatsoever. To put it simply, it is honestly admitting to thinking and feeling whatever it is that you are thinking and feeling. No sarcasm masked under the misused name of irony, no fronting, no bullshit. You don’t get to say that you are too cool to get giddy over the ‘splosions in the new Transformers movie or that you’re too tough to cry when your cat dies.

Own up to it, live it and be whatever the hell you are. Period.

This is where I come in, as a member of a generation that spent pretty much all of our time trying to pretend that we were too cool for every mother fucking thing on the goddamn planet. I hate, hate, HATE hipsters, but they are the only possible outcome of what we were aiming for. We were supposed to be too jaded to find anything exciting, too worldly to be surprised or offended, too empty to feel at all. And we were so proud of this that we all actively endeavored to reach that state. Worse, after years upon years of playing at it, we kinda became what we wanted to be.

And it sucks.

The aforementioned South Park episodes focus on Stan, a year older, muddling through a world where everything turns to shit before his eyes (in a way, it reminded me of Raistlin Majere’s predicament). That’s basically what it is like, and we don’t quite know how to turn it off, even in other people. That’s how we get debates about the relative seriousness of bands like The Darkness or Foxy Shazam or Tycho Brahe's assumption that there is no distinction at all between the New Sincerity and "the old irony". They can’t just be awesome because awesomeness just feels fricking awesome. It’s impossible. I’m not allowed to go all out like that without fear of other people thinking I’m some lame douche, so neither are they. They must be trying to sarcastically poke fun at something, instead of doing whatever they want, without fear of reprisal.

We’re living in the middle of an amazing time for ourselves and the world. There is shit happening that should be blowing us all away, making us laugh, cry and riot in the streets. As much as I generally don’t agree with either the Occupy or Tea Party movements, I heartily wish I could care about anything as much as those people seem to. And here I am, standing on the wrong side of the net around the ball pit, unable to come in and play. I really want to all-out enjoy/rage against it all, but I’m stuck thinking that doing so is somehow wrong.

As previously stated, it sucks, but I don't know what to do about it and I can't afford Jameson's.