Hello. Would You Like to Conform Contemporarily?
April 22, 2015 8:22 AM   Subscribe

The Contemporary Conformist. "The contemporary conformist attempts to exude wealth. The contemporary conformist is a pseudo-affluent lifestyle where you attempt to rationalize ‘taste’ as your ticket to luxury." From Carles.buzz. posted by Corduroy (255 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is slightly more comprehensible than Timecube, but not by much.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:28 AM on April 22, 2015 [15 favorites]


Arch as fuck, bro. Also, terrible.
posted by basicchannel at 8:31 AM on April 22, 2015


This is slightly better than a Lyndon LaRouche pamphlet.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:35 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love this.

The contemporary conformist believes that he/she is living a ‘natural life,’ and their entire life/personal brand/personality is a natural reaction to an over-branded childhood.

Brands they whined until their permissive parents gave in and bought for them.

Contemporary Conformists Want to be upper class, but they can’t, so all they can do are simulate pseudo-upper-class experiences and rationalize how they ‘fit in.’

Heh, and rationalize how what they can't afford is just horrible. It's retreatism intellectualized.

Nice one. The theme song for this group out to be the Bravery's Time Won't Let Me Go.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 8:36 AM on April 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Contemporary Conformist is grounded in nothing. They have no sense of the world. They are not traveled. They do not actually ‘know’ cuisine. They only have a collection of consumer experiences.

endless cackling
posted by poffin boffin at 8:38 AM on April 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


No thanks.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:39 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is actually a relatively good indictment of an aesthetic you can't go ten feet without walking into in any neighborhood full of relatively young people with money. Carles has a weird John Brunner sort of patter, but if you can get past it, he's making a rather trenchant criticism of how the whole 'lol artisinal everything' hipster-criticism turned into the default aesthetic and why it's dull as fuck while trying to pretend it isn't.
posted by griphus at 8:39 AM on April 22, 2015 [32 favorites]


This could be a really interesting cultural critique if it weren't so smug.
posted by kitcat at 8:42 AM on April 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Man, those people, am I right?
posted by Drexen at 8:43 AM on April 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


I still can't figure out exactly what it is he hates so much. This comes across as generic misanthropy directed at everyone and everything. Plus the text-speak is annoying as hell.
posted by rocket88 at 8:47 AM on April 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is so good:
The contemporary conformist looks to create a ‘permanent instagram filter’ in their lives/personal space where #NoFilter is necessary.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:49 AM on April 22, 2015 [17 favorites]


I 'know' cuisine... in the Biblical sense! (rimshot)
posted by selfnoise at 8:50 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


He used a lot of words to describe basic.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:51 AM on April 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


Wow, I really don't like this guy.
posted by ostro at 8:51 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow, I really don't like this guy.

You aren't alone but I like what he's up to even if I'm not always totally on board.
posted by josher71 at 8:53 AM on April 22, 2015


This is actually a relatively good indictment

No. A "relatively good indictment" of anything wouldn't include things like
Contemporary Conformists believe that ‘craft’ coffee/beer/mixology drinks/mixed greens.
and
Which do u h8 more: exposed brick, Edison Light bulbz, zany light fixtures, damask wallpaper, or weathered wood?
If the author wants to be taken seriously, the author needs to learn how to communicate like a civilized human being. What is this person's first language?
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:53 AM on April 22, 2015 [12 favorites]


Contemporary Conformists Want to be upper class, but they can’t, so all they can do are simulate pseudo-upper-class experiences and rationalize how they ‘fit in.’
The contemporary conformist rationalizes their educational experiences as having created a ‘well-rounded’ global view of the world, despite being as ‘narrow-minded’ as traditional conservative ruralites.
headshot
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:54 AM on April 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


basically, the author's belief seems to be that authenticity without misery is the exclusive domain of the ultra-rich, and anyone else trying for that condition is to be scorned and despised for... not knowing their place?
posted by lefty lucky cat at 8:55 AM on April 22, 2015 [15 favorites]


This person is making vaguely interesting points, but his affected writing style is keeping him from getting past them to more interesting points.

Every time he uses quotation marks, I want to say, "Quit making things up so that you can tear them down. Quote real people."
posted by roll truck roll at 8:55 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


this thread is turning out to be even more hilarious than the article itself, i salute you all.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:55 AM on April 22, 2015 [28 favorites]


Which do u h8 more: exposed brick, Edison Light bulbz, zany light fixtures, damask wallpaper, or weathered wood?

Me am Bizarro Shingy!
posted by Foosnark at 8:56 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


The only thing more boring than yuppies is taking multiple paragraphs to say "Yuppies are boring."

There's nothing interesting, novel, or thoughtful here. It's mean-spirited, incurious, and goes no deeper than the aesthetic it's supposedly critiquing.

There are probably some real things to be said here. There's an actual economic and political process underway in a lot of cities by which urban spaces are hollowed out and flattened by a kind of faux-urbanism that hides its hostility to anyone outside a certain tax bracket with vaguely-defined down-to-earthiness. That's worth discussing. This just reads like the author got dumped by someone who was completely out of their league and really likes gingham.
posted by Mike Smith at 8:57 AM on April 22, 2015 [25 favorites]


If the author wants to be taken seriously, the author needs to learn how to communicate like a civilized human being. What is this person's first language?

Dude's had his shtick going for the better part a decade, if not longer. It's definitely not to everyone's taste, but it's no more or less comprehensible than FILM CRITIC HULK if you actually want to understand what he's getting at.
posted by griphus at 8:58 AM on April 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


In related news, I am wearing denim and gingham right now and feel sad about it.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:59 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


OMG, the pregnant couple with the balloons. I am dying.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:59 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


This article feels very much of a piece with this one, about the hullaballoo in craft beer circles regarding the Budweiser "Brewed The Hard Way" ad; the gist of both is that the purchasing of "authentic" products and experiences are merely gildings to cover the rawness of one's participation in global capitalism, with "good taste" being a certain collection of pseudo-"authentic" fashions that - and here I'm editorializing - allows for consumers to quietly sidestep questions about their complicity in immorality.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:00 AM on April 22, 2015 [15 favorites]


Ah, females. So puzzling. So bound by their relationship to retail and always on the lookout for men. How can they be explained?
I feel like ‘most girls who aren’t mainstream skanks’ or weirdos are relatively Contemporary Conformist. When contructing a ‘self’ only using the medium of retail fashion, they can’t help but always be contemporarily conforming. (But this applies 2 bros too, I guess). What is it that women want? Do they want a ContempConformie guy to ‘impress’ their parents [via ‘mate who can provide’]? Do they want ‘more than just a mainstreamer in a polo shirt’ but not a ‘low-life Tumblr culture loser’? Are ‘cool girls’ who can ‘contribute’ to discussions at Contemporary Conformist establishments just a new iteration of ‘basic bitches’ who think they are different from ‘basic bitches’ that they shared in a listicle, but also embrace how sometimes they like being a lil bit basic, yall! ?
posted by ChuraChura at 9:00 AM on April 22, 2015 [15 favorites]


I just couldn't understand what my boss at the fancy cafe wanted me to wear to work (her descriptions were: "casual but 'fashion plate'" and "not so 'Kansas truckstop'") *until* I read this series. These essays helped me finally get it -- she wants me to dress Contemporary Conformist! Thank you, Carlos, for helping me keep my job.
posted by rue72 at 9:01 AM on April 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


Dude's had his shtick going for the better part a decade, if not longer. It's definitely not to everyone's taste, but it's no more or less comprehensible than FILM CRITIC HULK if you actually want to understand what he's getting at.

Yeah, for context, this is the hipster runoff guy. As noted reliable-information source Know Your Meme says:
The articles are written in a unique voice that parodies teen IM/text message speak using words like “bb” (baby) and scare quotes around cliche labels and phrases. He often uses the cathphrases “perfect alternative breasts”, “personal brand”, “entry level”, “relevant” and references the clothing seller American Apparel as “Am Appy.” Several variartions of the word “bro” are commonly used, and an article in the Daily Pedestrian described Hipster Runoff as being “singlehandedly responsible for the proliferation of the word bro.” The style has been described by Gawker[16] as “Pitchfork mixed with whippets mixed with chat room slang and maybe a certain faux-Rain Man quality.”
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:02 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


my preferred style is beecore in which i wear a huge net to keep all of humanity away and the ones who get past my MESH FORCE FIELD are stuffed into a wicker man
posted by poffin boffin at 9:02 AM on April 22, 2015 [21 favorites]


"While mason jars are now ‘too Pinterest basic bitch wave’"

Literal lols
posted by josher71 at 9:03 AM on April 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


The teenage web-culture writing style betrays the author's own conformity to someone else's aesthetic. Still, the article resonated with me because I've been really annoyed by those cultural trends in my age cohort.

> The contemporary conformist looks to create a ‘permanent instagram filter’ in their lives/personal space where #NoFilter is necessary.

is a brilliantly accurate and succinct a way to sum up "those people".
posted by scose at 9:04 AM on April 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


this thread is turning out to be even more hilarious than the article itself

The instant pushback really is the most convincing part — like a silent, unconscious "touché." How dare you suggest that contemporary bourgeois culture's "nice" things aren't actually blank, culturally unmarked categories? And trying to do critique without even carefully couching it in polysyllables and waffling nonjudgmentalism like a nice person who went to college? Inconceivable
posted by RogerB at 9:04 AM on April 22, 2015 [33 favorites]


and for my next trick i will build a man whole of straw! then set him alight! behold!
posted by basicchannel at 9:05 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


and for my next trick i will build a man whole of straw! then set him alight! behold!

Don't expect it to bring back your god-damn honey.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:06 AM on April 22, 2015 [10 favorites]


I mean, nothing he's saying in the first article is actually wrong, but none of it is unique to this generation, either. "Taste" = class since the days when all the ladies of the French court started adopting the "rural," "natural" look because Marie Antoinette was doing it.
posted by ostro at 9:07 AM on April 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Dude's had his shtick going for the better part a decade, if not longer.

Why?
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:07 AM on April 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Probably because people respond in a highly satisfying way to his work?
posted by poffin boffin at 9:09 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


So he's a troll.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:10 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why?

Different tastes. I like it.
posted by josher71 at 9:10 AM on April 22, 2015


I assumed most people here would be familiar with Carles and his style, but clearly not. Maybe this long form article/interview might explain a few things. Like the fact that he's writing in character as usual.
posted by kersplunk at 9:10 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


So he's a troll.

No, I don't think so.
posted by josher71 at 9:10 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


>OMG, the pregnant couple with the balloons. I am dying.

You mean this picture, right? It kind of confused me -- is there something particularly remarkable about their unremarkable clothing? Does wearing jeans just prove that you're trying too hard?

(And as I look at the picture again, is there some weird photoshopping going on in the bottom-left corner?)
posted by BurntHombre at 9:12 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


"troll" is not actually "someone who wrote a satirical thing i disagree with"
posted by poffin boffin at 9:14 AM on April 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


Well, your aesthetic preferences are mere reflections of generational trends & forces tapped into by forward-thinking tastemakers and marketers and packaged and sold to you on the basis on making you feel like you're an individual.

My consumption decisions accurately portray my values and worldview-system totally free from outside intervention.

It's like baby names that way. Everyone is a unique individual, and just magically happen to make decisions en masse.

For my post on semiotic squares I ended up reading Youth Mode from K-Hole (previously), and you should too.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:14 AM on April 22, 2015 [13 favorites]


How dare you suggest that contemporary bourgeois culture's "nice" things aren't actually blank, culturally unmarked categories?

Is that the "pushback"? I thought it was more "gosh, how many more times do we have to hear Holden Caulfield railing against the 'phonies'?" I don't get so much of a "how DARE you" as a "well, duh!" vibe from the thread.

Of course the desire for "authenticity" is as culturally constructed and as modish as the cultural forms it rails against. But...so? The satire only really works if we can believe that there is some other form of life that isn't "phony" in this way. But that's not how human beings roll--we live in culturally constructed worlds which we attempt to naturalize as just "the way things are." And that's as true for the "conformists" as it is for the "nonconformists." Go look at any group of "nonconformists" and you'll find the same kinds of generation and policing of norms as you do with the "conformists." See the collected works of Howard Becker for a cite.
posted by yoink at 9:14 AM on April 22, 2015 [26 favorites]


Need an emoticon for jerking-off motion.
posted by echocollate at 9:15 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


That "Contemporary Conformist Uniforms" pic is basically how I dress for work. It's not because I like it or I'm trying to make some kind of statement about class. It's because:

-- jeans because of course jeans.
-- I can't get away with geeky t-shirts here. And that does make me sad.
-- polo shirts are horrible and look horrible on me.
-- when I go shopping for button-down shirts in my size, I have a choice of plaid or crazy-ass Hawaiian. Last time I went shopping I set myself a "no goddamned plaid" rule and came home empty-handed.

To a large degree, people make fashion choices because that's what the stores carry.
posted by Foosnark at 9:16 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


You mean this picture, right? It kind of confused me -- is there something particularly remarkable about their unremarkable clothing? Does wearing jeans just prove that you're trying too hard?

For me, it's not anything specific about that particular picture. It's that a picture like that is THE Pinterest dream of how you do a pregnancy announcement (casual but coordinated clothing, textured background, balloons and chalkboard for whimsy). The Pinterest Aesthetic stuff like that can really bear down on you if you let it- I nearly had a panic attack the week before my wedding because I thought I didn't have enough cutesy stuff. WHY DIDN'T I GET MUSTACHES ON STICKS?! It's nice to be reminded that not only does it not really matter at all, it's totally constructed and can be ridiculous if you think about it long enough.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:18 AM on April 22, 2015 [18 favorites]


i like carles but i don't like that he rarely pokes beyond aesthetic critiques. though that looks like it might change with his new Contemporary Conformist Bus article and stuff about Scalability

like poffin boffin, i am pleased beyond human imagining at the reaction of Metafilter to carles and this article. its too perfect.
posted by beefetish at 9:19 AM on April 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I really dislike Carles's schtick, but I do think he's more or less on to something. It doesn't seem like an accident to me that the rise of foodie culture coincided with the decline of indie rock culture in the popular zeitgeist.
posted by whir at 9:19 AM on April 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


no
posted by hellojed at 9:20 AM on April 22, 2015


I don't spend a ton of time with Carles analysis. I think he has a very funny way of expressing ideas, deep or not.
posted by josher71 at 9:21 AM on April 22, 2015


my preferred style is beecore

YEA SON YEA
posted by echocollate at 9:21 AM on April 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's not because I like it or I'm trying to make some kind of statement about class. It's because:

-- jeans because of course jeans.


THIS. THIS IS IDEOLOGY. PUT THIS ON A FUCKING POWERPOINT, THIS IS IT, STICK IT IN THE DICTIONARY, THIS IS PERFECT, RIGHT HERE
posted by Greg Nog at 9:22 AM on April 22, 2015 [14 favorites]


It's that a picture like that is THE Pinterest dream of how you do a pregnancy announcement (casual but coordinated clothing, textured background, balloons and chalkboard for whimsy).

yes, this exactly. i want to know how long they scouted for that location and if the artistically placed twigs at their feet were already present or if they imported them, so to speak.

also you can tell how dated it is without even looking at the chalkboard because she's holding a bunch of gender conformist balloon colors and not neutrals like orange and yellow and green and purple.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:23 AM on April 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


Honestly as a parent with a 5 year old, this basic aesthetic is omnipresent at every birthday party where the parents spend an excessive amount on a kid's birthday party in an attempt to look rich and fashionable to the other overachievers with their kids in private school.
posted by vuron at 9:24 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


for serious, 20 5 year olds don't need individual cupcakes in glass mason jars.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:24 AM on April 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


(iana5yo)
posted by poffin boffin at 9:25 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


How dare you suggest that contemporary bourgeois culture's "nice" things aren't actually blank, culturally unmarked categories?

On preview I realized yoink already said what I was going to say.

Homeboy seems rapt by his basic (see what I did there) observations; the adults in the room are just rolling their eyes.
posted by echocollate at 9:26 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's another place it gets you! Birthday party guilt!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:26 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


...none of it is unique to this generation, either.

No, of course it isn't. "Contemporary Conformism" isn't a great tag for this (I mean, really, what's the difference from just plain old conformism?), and yet it's the perfect tag for this. A lot of people he's indicting here (including myself, who shops at farmers markets and buys records on vinyl and posts on instagram and rides a bike around the city like I'm going on a fucking safari) don't think about how they're conforming to a broader standard. And we are, of course, because we're human and mortal and deeply weird.

There's nothing wrong with liking what you like, but there is something wrong with assigning moral value to it: to say that I'm a better person because I eat or dress in a specific way, or have exposed brick in my apartment* is dangerous. And I feel like that's what he's doing here, maybe: reminding us that there's no inherent value between eating at your local hipster bistro versus catching a meal at Applebee's. (To give you an idea of how pernicious this is: I first wrote "eat well or dress well" before I caught myself.)

*I don't. But at the same time, I'm like, man, I would kill to have that kitchen...
posted by thecaddy at 9:27 AM on April 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


THE BOBBY BISON BUY

Bobby Bison wants to give you Upscale Families. Bobby Bison wants to give you Affluent Purchasers. Bobby Bison wants to give you the best. You want to reach the Young Affordables--that group of thin skinned influentials who make sixty-three per cent of all cordial liquor purchases. What are your options? You could try for a television buy. You could buy three hundred ten-second spots. You could buy five thousand five-second spots. You could position a pre-prime saturation glut in the "shoulder" periods. Or you can make the Bobby Bison Buy.

BUY THE BOBBY BISON AFFORDABLES.

Buy the Bobby Bison Affordables. Buy them outright. Tell Bobby how many you want. Tell Bobby what you want them to do. Bobby Bison wants to help.

LOOK AT THE BOBBY BISON AFFORDABLES

The Bobby Bison Affordables are on the beach. The Bobby Bison Affordables are in their loft bed. The Bobby Bison Affordables are covering themselves in special unguents and lotions. The Affordables are using their pretty colored telephones; the Affordables are employing an unusual appliance to uncork a bottle; the Affordables are taking their trust officer to lunch. The Bobby Bison Affordables are three times as likely to have a personal trust office as viewers of the two most popular "shoulder" period family-access television programs.

Bobby Bison controls the kind of up-target pliable you just can't reach with television. Look at the numbers. Ninety-two per cent of the Bobby Bison Affordables experience some sort of anxiety during the day; over sixty per cent refuse to talk to their Moms; nearly forty percent break into unexplained weeping as a matter of habit. And the Bobby Bison Affordables are twice as likely to experience a crippling sexual disorder as viewers of the most popular daytime TV shows. It seems incredible. But look at the numbers:
Crippling Sexual Disorder
                              %     %
Daytime TV Viewers:           NO    YES
  "Day After Tedious Day"     84.5  15.5
  "Ryan's Lunch"              73    27
  "Don't Count on It"         71.2  28.8
Bobby Bison Affordables       42    58
BOBBY BISON DELIVERS HIS AFFORDABLES

With television you're supposed to be getting boxcar numbers. But just where are they? A lot of those television Affordables are leaving their sets on and going out. Make a television buy and you are paying for those unresponsive "viewers." Bobby Bison delivers his Affordables. Bobby Bison owns his Affordables. Outright. If a Bobby Bison Affordable refuses to buy your product, you just tell Bobby Bison, and that Affordable better watch his or her step. Bobby Bison Affordables do what they're told. Whenever you actually want Affordables delivered to your door, Bobby Bison Can Do. Bobby will deliver boxcar after boxcar of Affordables to your point of purchase. Try getting that kind of response even from a prime-time television buy!

ONE MORE WORD ABOUT QUALITY

As a media man you are concerned with the intrusion of Low Reach undesirables into your prime-zone boxcar numbers, are you not? And you should be worried about tandem-ad gluts. You know that after two or three tandem-ad gluts the television Affordables "tune out," leaving you with an audience of oldsters and welfare mamas. In this atmosphere, doesn't it make sense to make the Bobby Bison Buy?

MAKE THE BOBBY BISON BUY

A Young Affordable will contact you. Call Bobby Bison and he will send a Young Affordable to your office. The Young Affordable will explain the Bobby Bison Buy. If you like, the Young Affordable will bring you a little lunch. And a little bottle of Vichy water to wash it down. This is the Affordable life style--fabulous little sandwiches with the crusts cut off and a pleasing bottle of Vichy water to wash them down. Your Young Affordable will explain the Affordable life style. He'll tell you about the super little trips, the cunning plans for apartment living, the expensive therapies, the outrageous outlays for liquor and other stimulants. He'll tell you about the futile impulse purchases that keep each Young Affordable deep in debt. You will agree that you need to reach this fabulous Young Affordable. And if you want to reach this fabulous Young Affordable, you'll find him in Bobby Bison's hip pocket--lonely and ready to buy.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:30 AM on April 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


Lemme try to whittle it down 4 u ppl who h8 the way of talk.

"The dominant mode of American culture and life is corporate culture, its values, aesthetic and priorities. Reactions to said culture often only mime the superficial reactionary aesthetics, rough paper over plastic, twine instead of glue, without altering any of the core corporate capitalist values under all that raw cardstock partly because the differences are superficial - the person making the candles for WalMart or a luxury store in Mrytle Ave don't control the means of production either - and partly because the push to make things like environmentalism about personal consumer choice rather than legislation is a every effective move on behalf of the great Coperate capitalist structure, allowing people to feel "better" about their consumption by swapping out some fonts. A truly counter/authentic culture would finds ways around or counter the dominant and all encompassing corporate values of constant growth, escalating profit, cheapest possible labor, actual integration in local communities, and so on."
posted by The Whelk at 9:30 AM on April 22, 2015 [44 favorites]


"troll" is not actually "someone who wrote a satirical thing i disagree with"

It also does not mean "he who hits a little too close to home" or "he who has broken the code."
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 9:31 AM on April 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


After much angst about Birthday Party, my family finally decided to go with a party where everyone brought stuff for the women's shelter as I couldn't tolerate getting 20+ toys and stuffed animals when my daughter already has more than she ever plays with and hopefully we are getting stuff to people who need things instead of just turning her into a materialist that always wants more.

Of course now I'm concerned that choosing to still throw a birthday party for her is still creating a degree of social pressure on other parents and now they have to show that they are rich and fashionable as well as charitable and giving.

LOLMIDDLECLASSPROBLEMS
posted by vuron at 9:33 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


... the adults in the room are just rolling their eyes.

Probably, but not all at the same thing.
posted by griphus at 9:34 AM on April 22, 2015 [12 favorites]


kids' birthday parties should be like the wedding in the godfather where the attending parent waits in line to humbly offer the hosting parent an envelope full of cash.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:35 AM on April 22, 2015 [14 favorites]


Y are we giving Carles' buzz such a tone argie?
posted by josher71 at 9:36 AM on April 22, 2015


...also if you're having a children's party for people of either a mixed or unknown economic background don't you low ball it as to not accidently offend someone or look like you're showing off? I mean, it's about making people comfortable and it's a kids party, they don't care. I thought this was why the face saving outdoor potluck party exists?
posted by The Whelk at 9:36 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


A truly counter/authentic culture would finds ways around or counter the dominant and all encompassing corporate values of constant growth, escalating profit, cheapest possible labor, actual integration in local communities, and so on.

Show me someone doing any of that, and I'll find you someone eyerolling about the "hipster douches"/"contemporary conformers" it caters to. And, of course, they'll be partly right. What hipster douche/contemporary conformer wouldn't be drawn to patronize a business that worked hard to counter the "corporate values of constant growth, escalating profit, cheapest possible labor" and promoted "actual integration in local communities" and so on. And what organization genuinely and ideologically committed to such a program wouldn't be likely to be made up of people who also were drawn to contemporary design fashions like "zany lights" and "exposed brick" and so forth?
posted by yoink at 9:40 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


The ideal american, someone who lives alone, hates everything, and shops.
posted by The Whelk at 9:40 AM on April 22, 2015 [17 favorites]


I have had exposed brick in my apartment, and let me tell you, it sucks. Brick dust everywhere, all the time, and how the hell do you hang anything?
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:42 AM on April 22, 2015


"The dominant mode of American culture and life is corporate culture, its values, aesthetic and priorities. Reactions to said culture often only mime the superficial reactionary aesthetics, rough paper over plastic, twine instead of glue, without altering any of the core corporate capitalist values under all that raw cardstock partly because the differences are superficial - the person making the candles for WalMart or a luxury store in Mrytle Ave don't control the means of production either - and partly because the push to make things like environmentalism about personal consumer choice rather than legislation is a every effective move on behalf of the great Coperate capitalist structure, allowing people to feel "better" about their consumption by swapping out some fonts. A truly counter/authentic culture would finds ways around or counter the dominant and all encompassing corporate values of constant growth, escalating profit, cheapest possible labor, actual integration in local communities, and so on."

This is a very nice encapsulation. Possibly the "adults" can hold off rolling their eyes long enough to tell us how little news it is to them?

kids' birthday parties should be like the wedding in the godfather where the attending parent waits in line to humbly offer the hosting parent an envelope full of cash.

And then someone gets blown up by a car bomb?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:46 AM on April 22, 2015


Glad to see Carles continuing the fine Hipster Runoff tradition of saying marginally interesting things as insufferably as possible.
posted by Itaxpica at 9:47 AM on April 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Brick dust everywhere, all the time, and how the hell do you hang anything?

in a whimsically crowded frame cluster on the one non-brick wall, no matter where that wall is
posted by poffin boffin at 9:48 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


OR on frames hung by wire at varying heights from the ceiling but flush to the wall
posted by poffin boffin at 9:48 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


A truly counter/authentic culture would finds ways around or counter the dominant and all encompassing corporate values of constant growth, escalating profit, cheapest possible labor, actual integration in local communities, and so on.

Show me someone doing any of that, and I'll find you someone eyerolling about the "hipster douches"/"contemporary conformers" it caters to. And, of course, they'll be partly right. What hipster douche/contemporary conformer wouldn't be drawn to patronize a business that...


It is hilarious, sad, and contemporarily-conformist-predictable that you are here only conceiving of finding ways around the dominant corporate values in terms of patronizing a business.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:48 AM on April 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


And then someone gets blown up by a car bomb?

You don't even think to call me Den Mother. Instead, you come into my house on the day my Emma is to be five, and you ask me to remove the peanuts from our snack tray.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:49 AM on April 22, 2015 [17 favorites]


~*follow for more soft ContConf*~
posted by poffin boffin at 9:49 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


There's nothing wrong with liking what you like, but there is something wrong with assigning moral value to it: to say that I'm a better person because I eat or dress in a specific way, or have exposed brick in my apartment* is dangerous. And I feel like that's what he's doing here, maybe: reminding us that there's no inherent value between eating at your local hipster bistro versus catching a meal at Applebee's.

SO MANY of those 'exposed brick and structural wood' places are just as much a corporate chain as Applebees, and have carefully curated "local and artisanal" menus.

Incidentally, "exposed brick" as an aesthetic design choice is fascinating to me, because it historically was used for industrial spaces, exteriors, and fireproofing. It says to me "this space was not originally an interior living space" or you ran out of money for the plastering (now drywall). Now (or it was a little bit ago) the height of fashion, but before that it mean "cheap and /or broke." But so many things are like that.

see: OR on frames hung by wire at varying heights from the ceiling but flush to the wall

From the exposed steel framing of the ceiling, where the A/C ducts and conduits are, because this wasn't a living space!

kids' birthday parties should be like the wedding in the godfather where the attending parent waits in line to humbly offer the hosting parent an envelope full of cash.

[lucabrazi]"I am honored and grateful that you have invited me to your home on the third birthday of your daughter."[/lucabrazi]
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:49 AM on April 22, 2015


with an SDS drill?
posted by scose at 9:50 AM on April 22, 2015


Ah, Gen-Y/Millennials, your time in the headlights of commercial and aspirational consumerism is finally HERE! Your collection of targeted lifestyle marketing should soon be arriving in your pinterest feeds. No more cute schlubbing about in vintage clothing and ironically terrible t-shirts. Now is your time to shine spend!

As a retiring Gen-Xer, I'm more than happy to see the advertorial crown pass.
posted by bonehead at 9:53 AM on April 22, 2015 [10 favorites]


Well yeah when consumption is so dominate it becomes the only response to effecting any kind of change, even in people's own imaginations, that's when you know how entrenched the ideology is.

Go ahead and suggest some Region Name Controls for US foods I dare you.
posted by The Whelk at 9:53 AM on April 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


It says to me "this space was not originally an interior living space" or you ran out of money for the plastering (now drywall). Now (or it was a little bit ago) the height of fashion, but before that it mean "cheap and /or broke."

See also: old warehouses being torn down to build brand new, incredibly pricey lofts which are meant to very closely resemble the surrounding old warehouses which were converted to lofts.

Baudrillard wept.
posted by griphus at 9:53 AM on April 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


This article pretty much eviserated any humor I might possibly have found in the term "basic".
posted by edbles at 9:55 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


This article pretty much eviserated any humor I might possibly have found in the term "basic".

I agree and add this.
posted by josher71 at 9:58 AM on April 22, 2015


It is hilarious, sad, and contemporarily-conformist-predictable that you are here only conceiving of finding ways around the dominant corporate values in terms of patronizing a business.

Ahem, allow me to draw your attention to the crucial wording in the example to which I was responding (an example which you yourself singled out for praise): "cheapest possible labor." Whelk's attempt to summarize the article's message was referring to a "business" (when you have "labor" being remunerated you are in "business"). I was merely pointing out that if you imagine a "business" that meet's Whelk's desiderata, it's going to be one that also lends itself to this kind of easy satire.
posted by yoink at 9:59 AM on April 22, 2015


This article pretty much eviserated any humor I might possibly have found in the term "basic".

I could be wrong, but I don't think this article is talking about the 'basic' thing, save for mentioning that Contemporary Conformism expression occasionally sets itself up as the antithesis to what it considers 'basic' while still utterly exemplifying what it considers 'basic' faults.
posted by griphus at 9:59 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


These metafilter comments feel to me like if the comments from that FPP about normcore wherein everyone was just like "i've never heard of this, 'normcore,' is this even a real thing, what is this?" got married to the comments from any film crit hulk FPP where everyone's like "i can't handle this writing style, why does he have to write like this?" and had a baby.

That baby is the above comments. Good times.

(Or at least the first half of them, I had to stop reading to post this obviously trenchant insight)
posted by wyndham at 9:59 AM on April 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


See also: old warehouses being torn down to build brand new, incredibly pricey lofts which are meant to very closely resemble the surrounding old warehouses which were converted to lofts.

I could go on for ¶ about why that is, yet: tl;dr - people don't want to live in (uncomfortable) or sell (not profit maximizing) actual lofts (i.e. converted industrial space).
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:59 AM on April 22, 2015


"actual lofts"
posted by poffin boffin at 10:02 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


People want the converted industrial aesthetic including the stainless steel countertops with the commercial grade appliances and the glass front subzero fridge they don't want drafty lofts that are nightmares for kids and cost a fortune to heat and cool.

Plus in a lot of locations it's actually cheaper to build new construction than rehab existing industrial properties.
posted by vuron at 10:05 AM on April 22, 2015


allow me to draw your attention to the crucial wording in the example to which I was responding (an example which you yourself singled out for praise): "cheapest possible labor." Whelk's attempt to summarize the article's message was referring to a "business"

No, it was referring to a culture, a culture that is finding ways around those dominant corporate values, which are, naturally, all centered around businesses, but the response to those values doesn't necessarily need to be.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:06 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wonder how much of this is reacting to the tick tick tick feeling in the back of your head that everything you enjoy and use everyday is possible via slave labor and like, actively endangering the future of the species. We can't even get a living wage increase that brings it slightly under the poverty line, why not just focus on your cupcake mason jar project when you've been told over and over again that shopping is the only thing you can do to change anything and have been shown time and time again that doing anything else leads to mockery, denigration, and doesn't work anyway.

I mean, we systematically erased the history of the labor movement in U.S. Schools for a reason. I guess I can't fault people for turning out exactly like they where supposed to.
posted by The Whelk at 10:06 AM on April 22, 2015 [41 favorites]


People want the converted industrial aesthetic including the stainless steel countertops with the commercial grade appliances and the glass front subzero fridge

I'm feel like I'm fairly ensconced in this stuff, but are the glass front fridges in homes a real thing? Every time I see one on TV, I've assumed it was a joke.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:08 AM on April 22, 2015


But does anybody really think that they're being more "authentic" because they use twine instead of glue, etc? I don't think many people (and certainly not the more self-aware people this article is presumably addressing) do. It's just a fashionable aesthetic right now. Now, how it got to be fashionable is an interesting question, and one that Carles spends some time addressing (urban and rural vs suburbia, etc). But these days participating in that aesthetic to some degree (not too much! see the people in this thread making fun of mason jars) is just a way of signaling that you're aware and with-it.

Now obviously you win the game of being aware and with-it by successfully adding a twist of something unusual ("original," "authentic") to the background of the fashionable aesthetic. This shows that you retain an independent personality, which is attractive.

Which brings me to one of the things I really didn't like about these articles: the fact that the author manages to kick women just a little bit more than men. From the second article: "I feel like ‘most girls who aren’t mainstream skanks’ or weirdos are relatively Contemporary Conformist. When contructing a ‘self’ only using the medium of retail fashion, they can’t help but always be contemporarily conforming. (But this applies 2 bros too, I guess). What is it that women want?"

You really want to know why women dress in the prevailing fashions, dude? Well, I'll tell you: Because women are evaluated on aesthetics (especially that of their body/grooming/clothing, but also of their homes, etc) and therefore successfully getting in line with the prevailing aesthetic is crucial.
posted by ostro at 10:08 AM on April 22, 2015 [22 favorites]


...people don't want to live in (uncomfortable) or sell (not profit maximizing) actual lofts (i.e. converted industrial space).

I'd add "moneyed" in front of "people" and then yeah, you're right. There was a period of time in NYC when other kind of people -- mostly broke artists/hipsters/punks/etc. -- were going apeshit over converted loft space in Williamsburg and later Bushwick because it was so goddamn cheap. I remember at one point in 2004 or 2005 when a guy I knew offered me a spot at a converted loft with five other people at something like $200/mo rent, which was pretty damn cheap (and also required you to actually build rooms into a big empty space.) I mean, yeah, there's more comfortable places to live, but it was cheap and you lived with your friends and made the space you lived in to exactly how you wanted and you were in the middle of the action.

And then the Hipness Treadmill starts and at the end of it you end up in 2015 with Young Captains of Industry wanting to live in now completely cupcake-gentrified neighborhoods in a housing situation that vaguely resembles the 'authentic' living conditions of the broke kids ten years prior, but with all the modern amenities and none of the trouble. And you end up with these bizarre simulacra-lofts that fascinate me to no end.
posted by griphus at 10:10 AM on April 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


Every time I see one on TV, I've assumed it was a joke.

I think it's clever propaganda by Big Mason Jar because of course you can't have a glass front fridge in which your leftovers are stored in some grotty old tupperwares.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:12 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


edbles Article Summary for Ms. Metafilters Class Section: 1

In the article Mr Buzz says that the current fashion trend is trendy. He also says that the fashion trend is only for phony people. He says that people signing onto this fashion trend think that they are being rebels, But Really they are not because they are trying to fit in with the other people. I think Mr. Buzz is right because he used pictures to support his conclusions, and those pictures remind me of the pictures people I don’t like put on the internet.
posted by edbles at 10:12 AM on April 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


"I put a loom in the middle of my living room, which is one of our converted denim factories. It reminds me that ...people make these things ..with their hands."

"are you going to move some factories back from wherever the lowest asking price is?"

"oh god no I'm waiting for the minimum wage law to get repealed first."
posted by The Whelk at 10:12 AM on April 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


although i guess the zeer is the new mason jar these days
posted by poffin boffin at 10:13 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'll see subzero glass front fridges in people's homes on occasion but it's still a relative rarity because most people don't want to have to curate their fridges when company comes over.
posted by vuron at 10:13 AM on April 22, 2015


I think it's clever propaganda by Big Mason Jar because of course you can't have a glass front fridge in which your leftovers are stored in some grotty old tupperwares.

Those round plastic containers the Chinese delivery come in look fine for this purpose.
posted by The Whelk at 10:14 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Brooklyn Fridge of Contemporary Art or B-FOCA for short
posted by poffin boffin at 10:15 AM on April 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


There is a lot to criticize about the fetishizing of authenticity/artisanship, how corporations exploit it, the social/class issues involved, but I think it's already been done in better ways, and I also don't feel like these issues are really all that new or unique to this generation - not all that different than the Official Preppy Handbook was to a different group of privileged young people.

I feel like this piece focuses a little bit too much on the trend's general aesthetics, which is the easiest and most obvious critique to make. I also feel like these types of criticisms tend to focus, not surprisingly, on women's fashion choices more than men's - how we point to pinterest to describe this aesthetic instead of other spaces. I guess this article spends time on criticizing the male industrial/working class / brewing look as well, so that's fair.
posted by Think_Long at 10:15 AM on April 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


feeling nostalgia for the great 'r u a 'hipster'' mefi threads of 2013.
posted by postcommunism at 10:16 AM on April 22, 2015


This reminds me of an old interview with Frank Zappa that I read, where he is slagging on the fans of every genre of music, as people who are only trying to make some sort of lifestyle statement,and aren't really interested in the art, but he seems not to consider the possibility that the same could be said of his audience, who, after all, liked to see themselves as free-spirited iconoclasts whose tastes weren't dictated by The Man.
posted by thelonius at 10:17 AM on April 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Skimming this thread and I may be showing my age but I did go back to check and Bobos in Paradise was published fifteen whole years ago!

Everything old is indeed new again.
posted by Sublimity at 10:18 AM on April 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


"I only put coconut water and Voss water in this fridge because you gotta stay hydrated and honestly who has time to cook so we just order in most nights so we don't have to clean up"

Said surrounded by industrial kitchen
posted by vuron at 10:19 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


yeah a lot of the contemporary conformist style seems to me like frolicking around in the withered death husks of labor, which is weird to me because I grew up in the woods around construction ppl and nobody is really doing authentic Country Cutesy out in the city

tbh i would laugh and laugh until my diaphragm seized if pinterest convinced people that gingham goose cutouts were like the must have in thing for the bourgeois not so boho set
posted by beefetish at 10:19 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


feeling nostalgia for the great 'r u a 'hipster'' mefi threads of 2013.

are you sure this is authentic nostalgia and not just manufactured nostalgia
posted by poffin boffin at 10:20 AM on April 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


I guess this article spends time on criticizing the male industrial/working class / brewing look as well, so that's fair.

Yeah, I think we use Pinterest as short hand, which is a problem since it skews female, but I feel like the aesthetic he's criticizing is way more obvious on men. The "uniform" for men is much more regimented, whereas I feel like I notice the trends less on women. Either way, if you're going to skewer this kind of stuff, the "jeans, plaid, sweater" male uniform is a very real thing so skewer away, even if that's basically how I and most of my friends dress.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:21 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


not all that different than the Official Preppy Handbook was to a different group of privileged young people.

Quiet you. It's important that they all know they're special and unique.
posted by bonehead at 10:24 AM on April 22, 2015


yeah a lot of the contemporary conformist style seems to me like frolicking around in the withered death husks of labor,

Oh the hip cities where people live in places where things used to be made and eat in abandoned post offices where people used to make a living before returning home to watch a show about the implausible oddity of having a job not about staring into a glowing rectangle.
posted by The Whelk at 10:25 AM on April 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


are you sure this is authentic nostalgia

Pretty sure its actual, I still have the pain from the old wounds.

One of the things that annoys me the most about this trend is the shittiness of these spaces from a functional perspective. Can you imagine cooking in the kitchen with those avocado appliances? Where's the work surface? Why is the carpet so close to the stove? Who the hell decided that granite tile was "better" (more marketable) than Corian?

Those are all selfserve froyo places - minimal staff outlay, and apparently great for money laundering.

I agree that the adoption of both rural and urban signifiers is a reaction against the construct of suburbia, capture to neatly by "farm to table," where the modern 'factory farm' can be thought of as the agricultural parallel to suburbanization of idealized rural living - it's why we have lawns.
But I think the critique goes awry - people don't "pretend" to value these things, they actually do value these things, and these actual values and preferences are canalized and turned into profit streams.

Perhaps a "true" identity, like hinted at in pt2 w/r/t/ Miami and New Orleans might be" radical traditionalism" in which the past is embraced wholeheartedly? The pictures of the open brewery(?) incorporate manufacturing (coffee and beer are industrial products) as performance. The entire selling point of local&artisanal is that it's made 'here,' what better way to prove that than actually see it? But people have to see the relevant parts, so it becomes a performance - and again the critique loses its sting, because people are social and always engage to tell other people things about themselves, so "performative" as part of the mfg process is inherent.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:41 AM on April 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


yeah a lot of the contemporary conformist style seems to me like frolicking around in the withered death husks of labor, which is weird to me because I grew up in the woods around construction ppl and nobody is really doing authentic Country Cutesy out in the city

A while ago I was reading a book about baseball that had a little sidebar about the changing rural vs. urban dynamics in the population of professional baseball players (and, by extension, the US population generally) over the course of the 20th century. The author pointed out that there was a whole cottage industry in the 60s of entertainment (TV shows, mostly) about country bumpkins and/or wacky but lovable small towns. He drew a connection to the dwindling rural population, theorizing that the characters on Green Acres represented people's families who still lived back on the farm and watching those shows reminded people of their families and heritage. You move to the big city but still feel a connection to that lifestyle and, consciously or unconsciously, seek out sitcoms (or whatever) about it, and jokes about milking cows still to you because you have enough cultural memory of that lifestyle that they can be funny.

Now, by the time I was growing up in the 90s, basically every TV show was about either suburban or urban life, and I've been wondering what happened to that feeling. I grew up in a rural area watching TV about cities and my parents grew up in cities watching TV about farms, and that's a pretty big shift to happen in just one generation. It hadn't occurred to me until your comment, but I absolutely see the post-hipster/contemporary conformist aesthetic as my generation's way of expressing that vague yearning to get back to some imagined roots in the country, only by now it's been put through so many nonsensical filters that it has basically zero connection to anything but itself.
posted by Copronymus at 10:53 AM on April 22, 2015 [10 favorites]


I'm a fan of Thorstein Veblen, and I'd suggest that some of the writer's targets seem like they'd fit Veblen's ideas around conspicuous leisure/consumption.

In this case, production of food and drink: Buy a kitchen with industrial-grade appliances, but don't do industrial-scale food production in it. Importantly, have a few things "off" in terms of efficient placement, so that it is clear that the kitchen, while resembling a place of production in many ways, is definitely not a place of production. It's a place of play, something only the wealthy can afford to spend so much money on.

Something similar can probably be said about craft brewing, if one wishes to be uncharitable.
posted by clawsoon at 10:53 AM on April 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


a lot of the contemporary conformist style seems to me like frolicking around in the withered death husks of labor

Yes! This is completely what Veblen was about. A classic example is yachting, which you could characterize as frockiling in the withered husks of fishing and whaling labour.
posted by clawsoon at 10:59 AM on April 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Skimming this thread and I may be showing my age but I did go back to check and Bobos in Paradise was published fifteen whole years ago!

Oh good, it's not just me. Or me just thinking about conspicuous consumption.
posted by immlass at 11:05 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Theory of the Leisure Class, clawsoon, or anything else? I'm putting books on hold.
posted by beefetish at 11:14 AM on April 22, 2015


feeling nostalgia for the great 'r u a 'hipster'' mefi threads of 2013.

You could substitute "hipster" for "contemporary conformer" and this piece would be indistinguishable from every other mad screed about someone else's taste. If there's anything remarkable about this it must be that the internet has finally divided into two camps: those who like to boast about their taste and those who like to bitch about people who like to boast about their taste.

No, I can't tell which one's which, either.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:19 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Veblen's ideas are part of this, of course, but I don't think captures the entirety of the issue. In the late 1800's such goods were cleanly separable from necessity. Everything now is aspirational in some form. Every pair of sneakers or boots or heels is loaded with meaning. Choices now are about which message you care to send, rather than sending an aspirational one or not.

Opting out is nearly impossible.
posted by bonehead at 11:20 AM on April 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


Everything's constructed. Nothings real. Whatever, can we just enjoy things without be made to feel bad about them?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:22 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well that's what the idea of Authenticity is about, right? Which choices to make in a wholly-coopted world?
posted by bonehead at 11:24 AM on April 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


The author pointed out that there was a whole cottage industry in the 60s of entertainment (TV shows, mostly) about country bumpkins and/or wacky but lovable small towns. He drew a connection to the dwindling rural population, theorizing that the characters on Green Acres represented people's families who still lived back on the farm and watching those shows reminded people of their families and heritage.

See also this LanguageLog post about accent differences between young and old characters in midcentury pop culture. (In particular, why does young Bugs Bunny speak with a New York accent, but old Bugs and Elmer Fudd both speak like they're from Appalachia?)
posted by asterix at 11:28 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


"That's what Jesus is here for, dear. To teach us how to make choices in a wicked world."
posted by octobersurprise at 11:29 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


You guys, THIS BUS AD. Oh my god I think it's real.

oh my god.

omigod.
posted by Hypatia at 11:31 AM on April 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


Carles' web trolling schtick doesn't do much for me, but I still genuinely like his monologues. The weird mixture of satire, inappropriate name brand droppings, sudden unexpected sincerity, running far too long with the same joke and building toward some wistful non-sequitur all delivered in a grating deadpan somehow translates his style into something palatable and relevant.

I appreciate the spitting on upper-middle class people, though.
posted by byanyothername at 11:33 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


yeah, that bus is in fact totally real. i think there was a recent post about it here?
posted by poffin boffin at 11:34 AM on April 22, 2015


Theory of the Leisure Class, clawsoon, or anything else? I'm putting books on hold.

Yep, that's the one. As you're reading it, keep in mind that he has a very dry wit.
posted by clawsoon at 11:36 AM on April 22, 2015


i told you guys about the bus upthread........ I TOLD U AB OUT THE BUS............
posted by beefetish at 11:37 AM on April 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


I knew there was a thing about a two-tier "nicer" bus but my stunted aesthetic imagination envisioned, like, cleaner plastic and maybe some cloth seats. I did not envision weathered wood and a bus steward!

But seriously if they don't have a steerage class, how will future generations ever make the Titanic-esque social drama film about a luxury bus disaster that will encapsulate our time?
posted by Hypatia at 11:38 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


$6 a ride, only in San Francisco.
posted by clawsoon at 11:40 AM on April 22, 2015


You guys, THIS BUS AD. Oh my god I think it's real.

O I see that Mr. Carles has a treatise he wants to deliver directly to my inbox. This is a dilemma. Do I conform? Or do I give it the spurning my pyloric valve is telling me I should?
posted by octobersurprise at 11:40 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


tbh the nyc subway is probably about 3-5 years away from that price.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:41 AM on April 22, 2015


But when do we get out special luxury subway cars without the annoying poor in them?

I mean if we're going to loot the public space and services why not just go whole hog -- introduce fees for entering stores! Nearly everything you can complain about in U.S. Urban centers is what happens when you have a shrinking middle class*, and it only gets worse and increasingly Uneven as it escalates.

*Friend was asked by some incredulous Swede or something why they wanted to get famous so badly and they said "Cause in the U.S. If you're not famous and you work in the arts, then you'll die of a preventable disease in a shelter somewhere."
posted by The Whelk at 11:45 AM on April 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


bonehead: Veblen's ideas are part of this, of course, but I don't think captures the entirety of the issue. .... Everything now is aspirational in some form. Every pair of sneakers or boots or heels is loaded with meaning. ... Opting out is nearly impossible.

Opting out has always been impossible, hasn't it? The only difference now is that the law doesn't punish people for making the wrong aspirational stylistic choices.
posted by clawsoon at 11:49 AM on April 22, 2015


I mean, why wouldn't you want to fit in with people with jobs and disposable income? How else are they going to hire you from the millions of equally qualified people?
posted by The Whelk at 11:50 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Tribalism and tribal identification/differentiation have existed as long as there have been humans, probably longer. That's all this is about. Wearing the 'right' clothes and (being seen) dining at the 'right' eateries and buying the 'right' authentic objects is what marks us as 'us' and definitely not one of 'them'.
I'm still not sure if Carles is aiming his derision on just one such cultural tribe or on all of them at once. Knowing that his writing style is satirical and 'in character' doesn't help.
posted by rocket88 at 11:57 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


So I guess I might be Contemporary Conformist because I'm wearing a plaid shirt my mom gave me because she thought it would look nice on me and it's work apppropriate. And jeans because they're comfortable and my current job lets me wear jeans instead of slacks. And slip-on Clarks loafers because they're a brand that fit my super wide Fred Flintstone feet and also comfortable and are more work appropriate than sneakers.

I just have one question: Is any of what I'm wearing "on fleek"?
posted by Fleebnork at 12:01 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm ready for the aesthetic tide to turn because I would like to eat my artisanal chicken salad, made from chickens that had names and hobbies, off a plate instead of a chopping board or pie tin.
posted by betweenthebars at 12:11 PM on April 22, 2015


Fleek is between you and your Gods
posted by The Whelk at 12:15 PM on April 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


see i want to wave this in front of carles and be like LOOK, THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU EXCLUDE THE ECONOMIC FACTOR FROM YOUR SCREED, THE CLASS ANXIETY IS JUST FESTERING AND ME WITH NOTHING BUT A SHOE
posted by beefetish at 12:16 PM on April 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


this thread . THIS THREAD is what i want to wave
posted by beefetish at 12:16 PM on April 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


This and that "aesthetic" makes me feel I've walked into a novel by John C. Wright (of whom I've heard too much lately regarding the Hugos).

Also I am too old for this debate, since I remember Contempo Casuals (hint: the American Apparel of its day).
posted by bad grammar at 12:16 PM on April 22, 2015


If wearing Keds is wrong, I don't wanna be right!
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 12:17 PM on April 22, 2015


Snippet: "Plaid. Gingham. Denim. ‘Chambray.’ Shirts with subtle stripes..."

But... but - he's naming everything I love!

[All these are great, too: "The Contemporary Conformist is meant to dress as though they ‘fit in’ against the contemporary conformist design aesthetic. Wood. ‘Weathered.’ Exposed Brick. Zany Light Fixtures. Hints of Metal. Plants (but not generic flowers)." He left out granite.]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 12:19 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


LOOK, THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU EXCLUDE THE ECONOMIC FACTOR FROM YOUR SCREED

To be fair, he could've draped a giant red flag (irregularly hand-dyed in small lots of upcycled burlap) over the whole thing and half of the MeFi thread would still be people proclaiming that capitalism is the state of nature, humans are tribal animals, authenticity doesn't exist and corporations are culture. Shit that deeply ingrained doesn't go away just because you tune your critique's irony differently or adjust its terms slightly.
posted by RogerB at 12:22 PM on April 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


Like it or not, I think Kinfolk fits into this aesthetic rather nicely.
posted by k8bot at 12:27 PM on April 22, 2015


I didn't read the article as a criticism of the aesthetic or functional elements of Contemporary Conformism. To me it seems the ire is directed at the idea denim, gingham and weathered are authentic. I think if it wasn't a part of the upper middle class zeitgeist to envision its consumerism as separate from mainstream consumerism, our author wouldn't waste his time with this criticism.

tbh, I think he's on fleek with his criticism of the ouroboros of the modern basic: what could be more basic than looking down on people for being basic and responding with baseness to try and individuate oneself from the basic masses?

ps. "jerking off" in emoji is a trigraph of :banana: :fist: :wave:, with more :wave:s for emphasis, possibly with a :+1: at the end to be cute.
posted by elsp at 12:34 PM on April 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


tbh, I think he's on fleek with his criticism of the ouroboros of the modern basic: what could be more basic than looking down on people for being basic and responding with baseness to try and individuate oneself from the basic masses?

I too was once thought post-modernism was the shit. Now I consider anything with this level of meta- in it to basically be staring at your belly button in a hall of mirrors.
posted by edbles at 12:41 PM on April 22, 2015


It's a form of cultural hygiene to periodically remind this segment of the population that their entire schtick is about signalling class. We all like to think we're egalitarians, but actually being egalitarian isn't human nature and takes work.

I believe the upshot is something like "nothing is less authentic than trying to appear richer than you are."
posted by sensate at 12:42 PM on April 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


ps. "jerking off" in emoji is a trigraph of :banana: :fist: :wave:, with more :wave:s for emphasis, possibly with a :+1: at the end to be cute.

100
posted by griphus at 12:44 PM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's a form of cultural hygiene to periodically remind this segment of the population that their entire schtick is about signalling class.

How unaware are people of this actually? I'll admit to being one of the people he's talking about in a lot of ways, and I'm aware that my tastes are shaped by consumer cultures are a product of my socio-economic class. I feel like my friends who are in my socio-economic class and have the same interests and tastes are aware of that, too. I'm sure there are people out there who are mindlessly thinking that their tastes are unique their own and that they're great for it, but I don't observe them to be the majority.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:49 PM on April 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


The spiders video? Cute, funny, and saddening. But this article caused me to develop an allergy to quotation marks.

As a result, reading this thread made me itch all over.
posted by halifix at 12:49 PM on April 22, 2015


I believe the upshot is something like "nothing is less authentic than trying to appear richer than you are."

You see, I'd say, merely, that it's tasteless to try to appear richer than you are. But heavens! Bring "good taste" in to it and the next thing you know we'll be sending the kids off to boarding school!
posted by octobersurprise at 12:50 PM on April 22, 2015


How unaware are people of this actually?

the question itself is counterrevolutionary.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:52 PM on April 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


bulgaroktonos are you shitting me have you been outside lately have you read this thread lately
posted by beefetish at 1:08 PM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I mean I've read the whole thread and I don't know that I see what you're getting at. Maybe if you explained what you mean rather than just saying "are you shitting me?"
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:11 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


the constant use of quotation marks makes me think he's going to break into the Chris Farley "eat my own dandruff" routine in about a paragraph.
posted by Existential Dread at 1:11 PM on April 22, 2015


Like many people here I think this is a horrible, poorly written, mostly nonsense article. However I do think there's a reason it was written and it resonates with some people here. In the US, we are currently in the late stage of a cultural aesthetic, which is always a bit of a weird time. It's been around long enough that everything feels very similar, and everything ends up feeling mainstream. This is an especially strange time for it, because the whole aesthetic is supposedly based on handcrafted, whimsical, slightly budget craft and yet it has been completely co-opted by its exact opposite.
posted by aspo at 1:13 PM on April 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


To me it seems the ire is directed at the idea denim, gingham and weathered are authentic.

This whole thing about denim is weird to me. I've heard people talk about this here before. I can think of no signal that is sent by wearing jeans other than "hey I'm probably not at work right now". I don't remember a time in my life, and I'm not young anymore, where people didn't wear jeans as their go-to casual, comfortable clothes. It's been at least since the 70s. They're just comfortable, durable pants you can wear with almost anything and don't have to think about. Like what, I'm supposed to wear pleated slacks all the time? Or sweatpants? Are those more "authentic" to something? To me?

I was not familiar with the name "gingham" previously, but I gather it means a patterned cotton button-up shirt? These have also been ubiquitous as long as I can remember. I have no idea what the picture with the couple is supposed to get across. They look like average, kinda lame 30-something folks.
posted by Hoopo at 1:21 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe if you explained what you mean

I think what is meant is, "people seem extremely unaware of this, actually". I mean, I'm not trying to attack you, but your statement that you are "one of the people he's talking about in a lot of ways" could be taken as a pretty good indicator that you may not think about this stuff as much as you think you do when confronted with it, and it seems a bit defensive to go "well yeah, sure, everyone knows that," as well as predictable and honestly boring, since it happens any time anyone says just about anything, no matter how novel.

Again, not attacking you. I like you and agree with you, generally speaking. <- signalling that you should listen to my opinions
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:24 PM on April 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


This article seems pretty bullshit to me. I mean, I just make practical choices about what to wear based on what strikes me as good when I'm scanning the hypermarts after my scabscobs (gotta have m'scabscobs!), just like any other Q-citizen. Plus it's tough tacking to nav this article. Figuratively want to unplug.
posted by nom de poop at 1:24 PM on April 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm with you on the denim thing, Hoppo. It seems too generic to be much of a signifier, though that viewpoint in itself could be a "symptom." Gingham, on the other hand, is a very specific pattern, like a checkered tablecloth, and it is presently trending very hard.
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:26 PM on April 22, 2015


I have no idea what the picture with the couple is supposed to get across. They look like average, kinda lame 30-something folks.

There's a trend going on at least on my social media feeds in which people announce their pregnancies with a cutesy picture of the two of them and a little chalkboard or handmade sign with some sort of almost too cute "We're expecting!" joke on the sign. Which when it's close friends you click like and say congrats and get excited for them and when its someone you don't care for you're all like "We didn't need to know that you guys had sex 3 months ago, with a special sign, jerks." The picture in the article is meant to convey the latter emotion.
posted by edbles at 1:27 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Normcore, which he references as anti "contemporary conformist" (what a stupid label) for instance is one of those cases of a reaction to late stage cultural aesthetic that is still 100% a product of that exact same aesthetic. It's just the dying gasp of people who once were counterculture who are mad that culture caught up them, but still don't have the cultural cache to really break out. That is, it's a style for the people who are trendy enough to join styles early, but not trendy enough to make style. To call it anti-anything is pretty silly. It's stuck within the exact lines it's railing against.
posted by aspo at 1:27 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's definitely some elements of the menswear community that work with denim in ways that are clearly meant to evoke images of people who work with their hands. It's generally called "Americana," and if you saw it you'd see that that's what their going for. That said, it would be the slightly too stylish work boots that would stand out rather than the denim. As you say, everybody wears denim in the US in 2015.

I think what is meant is, "people seem extremely unaware of this, actually". I mean, I'm not trying to attack you, but maybe your statement that you are "one of the people he's talking about in a lot of ways" seems like a pretty good indicator that you may not think about this stuff as much as you think you do when confronted with it, and it seems a bit defensive to go "well yeah, sure, everyone knows that," as well as predictable and honestly boring, since it happens any time anyone says just about anything, no matter how novel.

What I meant by "one of the people he's talking about in a lot of ways" is that some of these trends are things I notice/participate in. I have a number of gingham shirts, bought last year explicitly because they were advertised to me by an upper middle class brand; I'm aware that they're a class marker, but I like how they look and it's my class, so whatever. I go to bars with lots of exposed brick and fancy cocktails in mason jars, because I enjoy them*, but I'm under no illusions that my enjoyment is divorced from conforming to an urban upper middle class lifestyle in 2015. You'd have to be crazy to miss that, since everyone else in that group is doing the exact same thing. This is something I talk to my (gingham wearing, exposed brick bar visiting, upper middle class) friends not all the time, but fairly often.

I guess, I don't really feel like I'm being defensive when I say that "yes this is me, yes I have thought about this." The article is fine, and a lot of the commentary here has been interesting, but I don't really think you average upper middle class person is blissfully unaware of the fact that their tastes are class based. Maybe they are, but it hasn't been my observation. That's all I'm saying.

*Actually I hate drinking out of mason jars, but that's not the point.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:36 PM on April 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


I too was once thought post-modernism was the shit. Now I consider anything with this level of meta- in it to basically be staring at your belly button in a hall of mirrors.

Maybe you're right, and I hope to find out- I've just added 'staring at my belly button in a hall of mirrors' to my bucket list. I wonder if #PolynavelGazing or #NavelPolygazing will be better for the Instagram?

I'm with you on the denim thing, Hoppo. It seems too generic to be much of a signifier, though that viewpoint in itself could be a "symptom." Gingham, on the other hand, is a very specific pattern, like a checkered tablecloth, and it is presently trending very hard.

Maybe it's a little damning, but it didn't occur to me that by saying denim people would read that I was talking about jeans. I think that "denim" signifies more than jeans and more stuff like raw denim jeans, denim track suits, denim tablecloths, etc.
posted by elsp at 1:44 PM on April 22, 2015


it seems a bit defensive to go "well yeah, sure, everyone knows that," as well as predictable and honestly boring,

It could be defensiveness. Or it could be that everybody (for some value of "everybody") does know that. Establishing which one is where the real meat of the thousand-comment thread lies. (Though I'm with you on the predictable and boring.)
posted by octobersurprise at 1:45 PM on April 22, 2015


It's generally called "Americana"

Ah, OK. See I'm Canadian, and around these parts they're tuxedo pants.
posted by Hoopo at 1:45 PM on April 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


This whole thing is making me want to like, join an intentional community where everyone smells bad.

I really dislike Carles's schtick, but I do think he's more or less on to something. It doesn't seem like an accident to me that the rise of foodie culture coincided with the decline of indie rock culture in the popular zeitgeist.

This article is from a couple years ago and basically argues that. It probably helps that you actually eat food and you need to be in a particular place to do it, so it's more exclusive. Also teenagers don't make a point of going to restaurants, so they can't be foodies which probably is a good thing for people of a certain age.

If you read Carles blog he keeps posting about "buzzbands" and I honestly think part of this is he's sad indie rock doesn't exist as a distinct subculture any more. He likes that kind of music (as much as he would satirize it), and now there's lots of it but relatively few people get very excited about it. Arguably "Contemporary Conformist" food-fashion-and-design has replaced it. And now he's not satirizing these people, he's just outright complaining about them.
posted by vogon_poet at 1:46 PM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


i think most people are aware of it, but sometimes people are kind of defensively aware of it, which can lead to stuff like arguing that the article is incomprehensible/stupid/incorrect because the guy deliberately uses outdated txtspk, ironically because it is his aesthetic.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:46 PM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


And now he's not satirizing these people, he's just outright complaining about them.

i mean, yes and no, i guess? in the linked vice article about him he's wearing a gingham shirt, ffs. he is an active participant in the things he is snarking about, and i don't think he's denying or unaware of that.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:50 PM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I honestly think part of this is he's sad indie rock doesn't exist as a distinct subculture any more.

Sure as Jimmy Buffet was to blame a woman, I knew there was a sad indie rock guy at the bottom of all this.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:01 PM on April 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I thought it was really interesting and recognizable, as a grad student in a hip town that is fighting to make everyone else realize its hipness while it refurbishes and polishes is rust belt past, but I'm still really irritated by the fact that I was nodding along and critiquing my consumption then all of a sudden the analyses are only limited to men because women are all some comment on a version of basic bitch.
posted by ChuraChura at 2:07 PM on April 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


I remember at one point in 2004 or 2005 when a guy I knew offered me a spot at a converted loft with five other people at something like $200/mo rent, which was pretty damn cheap (and also required you to actually build rooms into a big empty space.)

I hate to break it to you, but people have been complaining about yuppies doing the loft/warehouse thing when it used to be for cheap artists since at least 15 years before that, and I only say 15 years because before that I wasn't old enough to really know anything about that.
posted by aspo at 2:18 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure there's a generation where the warehouse to loft thing hasn't happened; I just think this is the first time they're putting up fake warehouses.
posted by griphus at 2:20 PM on April 22, 2015


I see this ad every other day on my computer. Just yesterday my eyes lingered on the image and for the first time deliberately studied it. The model is supposed to be standing in front of the wall of some remote log cabin, a situation I will probably never be in—he's also standing there wearing a suit, or parts thereof? For I cannot fathom the occasion? And his beard (which I cannot genetically grow)—it says to me, fashion is not merely the physical commodities, but also the ideology infecting people's behaviors and choices. I will never look this style or be in a situation remotely like the one depicted—I have little choice in such a possibility. And yet they can blatantly sell this set of ideas to me.

And yet, yesterday their tag line literally said: "Look Expensive Without Paying Expensive". That rhetoric certainly caught my eye, and not in the intended way. Class simulation?—check. I mean, how explicit about this can adverts get away with? What does this mean??

And today this article crops up, hot lumbersexual model (do I want him? or to be him?) in the first image. Synchronicity? I think so.
posted by polymodus at 2:22 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


This aesthetic is rampant in Seattle and while I understand it's a trend and it will pass I'm so so so so tired of distressed wood, exposed brick, and dangling Edison lights in every newish eating establishment. Variety! Please!
posted by Tevin at 2:23 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


OTOH, it does mean that every new bar isn't "Irish", which is something not to be discounted.
posted by bonehead at 2:29 PM on April 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


Is this article about non-rich people who are happy, curious, and take joy in new and pleasant experiences?

Of course there will always be non self-aware yuppies to blow money on shitty things and create "taste," but... well, exactly, this has been around for ages at this point.

I'm not well-paid enough to be in the demo this guy is lambasting but this is honestly kind of boring out-of-date sneering (with woman-hating thrown in, as usual, because of our retailness or whatever).

I have heard critiques of consumerist and conformist culture before that gesture toward a provocative alternative, but this is not one of them. Will he ever indicate what actually matters, instead of what clearly, uncooly, basic-ly doesnt'?

The pregnant couple with the balloons is a cute pregnancy announcement as far as I can tell (it's not even particularly expensive or douchey).

I don't think Carles really knows the demo he's mocking here. And I think that is largely because much of it is female, and derived from "female" culture and values.
posted by easter queen at 2:29 PM on April 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


So what I'm getting from a lot of the comments here is that poor people should just give up already and look poor, because that would be authentic.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:31 PM on April 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm so so so so tired of distressed wood, exposed brick, and dangling Edison lights

Distressed wood and Edison lights I can take or leave, but exposed brick is nice, dammit. It's thoughts like these that lead to the creation a dozen different shows on HGTV that revolve around pulling up ugly carpet to find beautiful hardwood floors underneath.
posted by Hoopo at 2:31 PM on April 22, 2015


Nah, nothing so negative. Take what you like, laugh about the rest. Call it snark-bar consumerism.
posted by bonehead at 2:35 PM on April 22, 2015


dangling Edison lights

i hate the way eye level naked bulbs reflect off of the glasses of everyone in my dining party because then no one can fully appreciate how cute my tortoiseshell cats-eye kate spade glasses are
posted by poffin boffin at 2:36 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Look Expensive Without Paying Expensive". That rhetoric certainly caught my eye, and not in the intended way. Class simulation?—check. I mean, how explicit about this can adverts get away with? What does this mean??

See, I'm having trouble appreciating the profundity here. Sure, people want to wear expensive clothes, but can't afford them. I'm sure that the simulation of "expensiveness" is a somewhat emergent trend and there are interesting reasons why, but they are not in this article. I have this impulse-- to own "simple," expensive things, and thus emulate the rich. But, I mean, of course I do. Of course I want quality goods! Advertisers and companies are giving this momentum as a trend right now, but what is deep about this?

And it means something fairly obvious to me, as a nonrich female embedded in retail culture, or whatever-- fabric that hangs nicely, shoes that are built to fit correctly, clothing that doesn't fall apart. I like quality things. I bargain hunt. It's because they're comfortable and don't scream "I'm poor!" which is useful in life.
posted by easter queen at 2:36 PM on April 22, 2015


So what I'm getting from a lot of the comments here is that poor people should just give up already and look poor, because that would be authentic.

Also these aren't poor people being made fun of, these are people rich enough for the fancy kitchen, to go out to eat lots, to buy overpriced clothing and organic food.
posted by vogon_poet at 2:37 PM on April 22, 2015


I fucking hate it when bars serve drinks in mason jars. I don't want to rub my lips all over jar threads while I'm enjoying my artisan cocktail. One of the best parts about drinking in a bar is that they (are supposed to ) have the exact appropriate glass for your drink. At least wood, bricks, and orange light look pretty - mason jars are just a pathetic attempt to seem homey.
posted by scose at 2:37 PM on April 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


Also these aren't poor people being made fun of, these are people rich enough for the fancy kitchen, to go out to eat lots, to buy overpriced clothing and organic food

But then they're not looking wealthier than they are, which is one of the conceits of CC.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:39 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


the wealth level being aspired to is la hameau de la reine, not 200k/yr DINKs.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:40 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


ok that's actually not really true, i was just carried away by revolutionary fervor
posted by poffin boffin at 2:43 PM on April 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


They say dress for the job you want so *dons ermine robes of state and picks up gold secpterr*
posted by The Whelk at 2:44 PM on April 22, 2015


See, I'm having trouble appreciating the profundity here

I was describing my actual reaction when I read that tagline yesterday. There was nothing profound about a straightforward, personal reaction that came out quite immediately as soon I as I read it; I get targeted by their ads and see variations of it often—When one day a version of it leaps to your eye, it's a useful sign to pay closer attention. And note this was all before seeing this article today.
posted by polymodus at 2:44 PM on April 22, 2015


(frank and Oak is a decent retailer but their pants are made for tiny little stick men who are a thousand feet tall like ALL DECENT MEN'S PANTS NOT THAT IM BITTER OR ANYTHING. The socks are nice. I like the socks.)
posted by The Whelk at 2:45 PM on April 22, 2015


phil specter?
posted by poffin boffin at 2:46 PM on April 22, 2015


There's an actual economic and political process underway in a lot of cities by which urban spaces are hollowed out and flattened by a kind of faux-urbanism that hides its hostility to anyone outside a certain tax bracket with vaguely-defined down-to-earthiness

This. Land Rovers and SUVs have moved into my increasingly gentrified neighbourhood together with wannabe posh people. Microaggressions on the street to people not dressed to a high standard of smartness ("down to earthiness"). They're fascists.
posted by yoHighness at 2:46 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


[tl;dr]
[paraphrase]

"Other people are enjoying things wrong. Those things aren't as special as the people think they are. If you have 20 more minutes and are willing to forgive me the occasinoal half-finished centence I will happily

[/paraphrase]
[/tl;dr]
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 2:59 PM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I still love Edison bulbs
posted by small_ruminant at 3:03 PM on April 22, 2015


But then they're not looking wealthier than they are, which is one of the conceits of CC.

When did plaid shirts and jeans start signifying aspiration to wealth? I'm Gen X, we call those "clothes".


They say dress for the job you want so *dons ermine robes of state and picks up gold secpterr*

Here, you dropped your cowl. You're going for the Serpentor job, right?


frank and Oak is a decent retailer but their pants are made for tiny little stick men who are a thousand feet tall like ALL DECENT MEN'S PANTS NOT THAT IM BITTER OR ANYTHING.

It ain't all roses being tall. I have a butt and actual leg muscles, so the skinny pants thing is supremely frustrating to me.
posted by Fleebnork at 3:27 PM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


arguing that the article is incomprehensible/stupid/incorrect because the guy deliberately uses outdated txtspk, ironically because it is his aesthetic.

I think the article is incomprehensible because I can't figure out what he is trying to say, and that's because he appears to be saying it in an unfamiliar dialect of English. I could probably figure out what he was trying to say if I put a bit of work into it, but nothing in the first couple of paragraphs gave me any reason to care about his points enough to spend the time it would take to dig for them.
posted by Mars Saxman at 3:31 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


When did plaid shirts and jeans start signifying aspiration to wealth? I'm Gen X, we call those "clothes".


Textbook inconspicuous consumption
posted by The Whelk at 3:32 PM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sure, people want to wear expensive clothes, but can't afford them. I'm sure that the simulation of "expensiveness" is a somewhat emergent trend and there are interesting reasons why, but they are not in this article. I have this impulse-- to own "simple," expensive things, and thus emulate the rich. But, I mean, of course I do. Of course I want quality goods! Advertisers and companies are giving this momentum as a trend right now, but what is deep about this?

But there's a distinction between goods that simulate expensiveness and goods that are well-made (via fabric that hangs nicely, shoes that are built to fit correctly, clothing that doesn't fall apart). Madewell (ha!) and the other retailers Carles mentions simulate expensiveness, but do not produce 'quality' clothing. Part of the critique, I think, is that this differentiation (and reinforcement via media/social media) encourages consumption as a way of signifying a certain lifestyle (and class), rather than consumption focused on functional quality (comfort, longevity). It also discourages us from asking why everyone can't afford American-made (or whatever) quality goods. If we can participate in the 'spectacle of quality', we don't have to critique capitalism or build alternatives.

The "contemporary conformist" suggests class is a result of taste, rather than economic forces. The "contemporary conformist" believes that 'authenticity' (an ideal moral state) is the result of carefully-considered choices about what one purchases.
posted by MetalFingerz at 3:38 PM on April 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm going to be honest, I'm drinking out of a mason jar right now.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 4:00 PM on April 22, 2015


I'm just plain drinking.
posted by postcommunism at 4:08 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


The only person I know who actually has mason and jam jars for glasses that I've been inside their house is the artist and media personality who could totally afford glasses but doesn't think there's anything wrong with serving wine with dinner out of a coffee cup and just put all their jars in a dishwasher and uses those now.

It's fine for mixed drinks but I think the ice keeps hitting my teeth in cocktails served in mason jars.
posted by The Whelk at 4:10 PM on April 22, 2015


it seems carles has taken notice of this discussion
posted by p3on at 4:19 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


...okay that is literally incoherent.
posted by The Whelk at 4:26 PM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


> I didn’t read the rest of the comments, but feel free to post ‘choice’ ones in our comments [via commenting on the comments]

Finally, the reverse RTFA!
posted by postcommunism at 4:29 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


i have jam jar glasses in addition to my various other mismatched glasses, because i like jam and i eat a lot of it. it feels wasteful to throw away perfectly good jars that i could be drinking the precisely correct amount of milk to accompany a cupcake out of.
posted by poffin boffin at 4:42 PM on April 22, 2015


yes, throw away, not recycle, because i hate the environment and i want it to suffer

i meant discard
posted by poffin boffin at 4:43 PM on April 22, 2015


...okay that is literally incoherent.

Yep. I really don't see the there there with this guy Carles
posted by Hoopo at 4:45 PM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


(I like to think 'sometimes I have a less then utterly optimal experience drinking a cocktail with ice out of a friend's jam jars' is somewhat low on my list of problems to deal with )
posted by The Whelk at 4:48 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I need photos / links / Instagram profiles of:
-More restaurants
-ethnic Contemporary Conformists (blacks / Asians / hispanics / latinos / etc)
Commentary on your local Contemporary Conformist Scene (ie, what is the name of the ‘repurposed Candy Factor in the middle of town’)
-Other content / image sources / instagram profiles + screen caps of ppl who are really into being contemporay conformists.


Should I send him a photo of myself being ethnic while listening to Belle and Sebastian?
posted by betweenthebars at 4:57 PM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


it seems carles has taken notice of this discussion

Did I just get dissed by Carles?

Today is the best.

Also that is an actual question; I have no idea of he's referring to my comment or not.
posted by griphus at 4:58 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


you should slap him with your internets glove and demand satisfaction
posted by poffin boffin at 5:03 PM on April 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


I was photographing raves and nightclubs when Carles starting Hipster Runoff and I'm photographing charity galas and mason jar weddings now that he's doing Carles.buzz and it really resonates. Sometimes he's making fun of the worst people around me, and I can feel superior and think he sure got that right. Sometimes he's making fun of the worst aspects I see in myself (I'm very much aware of my personal brand, y'all). I don't feel like any of it is particularly mean-spirited because it all seems to be coming from within. I don't know anything about Carles (or whoever is behind the Carles character) but I feel like he's doing cultural critiques of shit that him and his peers are susceptible and a lot of it is just a more lol way of saying "check your privilege".

I don't mind the affected speech and I like that Carles is growing up WITH me. Maybe he'll have the kids I don't plan to, and maybe he'll be my early-Millenial generation's Dave Barry, and I'll still be reading him every Sunday while the youngers are like "dad humor, gross"
posted by elr at 5:05 PM on April 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Much like Barack Obama, even if I disagreed with this guy I'd still love him for pissing off the people he pisses off.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:52 PM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


seeing how many people I know got jobs based on "brand management" and "ceaseless self promotion" and " social media work" I keep hearing pissing about that as "I don't think people who aren't already well known should try to get better work."

A very well known illustrator said something like 'I don't like self promotion, your publicist should do that, it's vulgar' back when I was just starting in like 2001 and it's made me bitter ever since. we!re Americans, people have to know who we are cause we don't have a social welfare net, do you want to die in a ditch?
posted by The Whelk at 6:00 PM on April 22, 2015


I didn’t read the rest of the comments, but feel free to post ‘choice’ ones in our comments

Certainly he'll ask permission first.

maybe he'll be my early-Millenial generation's Dave Barry

Maybe he's already the millennial Dave Berry.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:38 PM on April 22, 2015


altho at this dis the millennial scott adams might be more otm
posted by octobersurprise at 6:41 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh yes yes yes, I got quoted on the Carles.buzz post! I feel so... contemporary.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:05 PM on April 22, 2015


You know, someday I'm going to die, and it is possible that it will be in some kind of accident, perhaps the type of slow-motion calamity, such as a plane crash, that gives me a few terrible minutes to think. I will probably be fixated on the people I love best, the people I am leaving behind, but I expect that, if the thing is terribly drawn out, there will be a flash in my mind of the things that I will at least never have to live through any more.

And one of those things is going to be pissant arguments about this kind of thing. Never again. World without end. Amen.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:20 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


This entire thing is just completely. fucking. baffling to me. Both the linked post and the entire circle-jerk of critiquing other people's aesthetic choices. It just seems so... mean-spirited -- from all directions.

You want to see someone who really dresses without concern for conformity? Check out a two-year-old. Today my son decided to wear two watches on one arm (because of Reasons), brown khaki pants with brightly coloured Hawaiian shorts on top of them, and sparkly blue nail polish. Yesterday he wore a girl's Peppa Pig shirt upon which he carefully affixed precisely eight ladybug stickers, put one train sock and one scary monster sock on his feet, and two car socks on his hands as "mittens". That is someone who is genuinely non-conformist and who truly does not give one single shit about what other people think.

The rest of us don't dress like toddlers. We can't avoid our awareness of the social world and can't avoid having clothing that unavoidably reflects something about our milieu or our finances or our choices or our background or at the very least the state of our laundry pile. Somehow it's okay to nitpick and critique other people's aesthetic choices whatever we choose, and I find that so goddamn tiring.

If you want to wear distressed denim and gingham and clothing that "simulates expensiveness"? Fine! If you want to dress like a frat bro or a nerd or in your lumpy old sweatpants? Also fine! I mean, seriously.
posted by forza at 7:36 PM on April 22, 2015 [10 favorites]


The point isn't "the aesthetic you like is dumb", the point is "the aesthetic you like is not natural or authentic, it is calculated and political and marketed to you in ways that you are not noticing."
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:43 PM on April 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


The only thing maybe a little auth about this MetaFilter forum is its illegibility

YES!
posted by nom de poop at 7:44 PM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


ahhhh, post-Carles transcendentalism.
posted by easter queen at 7:57 PM on April 22, 2015


the point is "the aesthetic you like is not natural or authentic, it is calculated and political and marketed to you in ways that you are not noticing."

Or apparently in some people's case, "in ways you of course notice, because every subtext and power web affecting your life choices is exposed to you, and whatever you do it's just because you want to fit in".
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:11 PM on April 22, 2015


the point is "the aesthetic you like is not natural or authentic, it is calculated and political and marketed

Well, yes. Every aesthetic is calculated and political (Combined also w/ some random quality that will always resist interpretation, imo) No aesthetic is "natural." What would that word even mean in such a context? Indigenous? Autochthonic? You'd have to be pretty young or pretty dumb not to have figured that out already. (Apologies in advance to the young and/or dumb.) So the super eye rolls here (or my eye rolls anyways) are over why anyone would think it was clever to deliver that truth bomb in the first place.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:03 PM on April 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Well, yes. Every aesthetic is calculated and political (Combined also w/ some random quality that will always resist interpretation, imo) No aesthetic is "natural." What would that word even mean in such a context? Indigenous? Autochthonic? You'd have to be pretty young or pretty dumb not to have figured that out already. (Apologies in advance to the young and/or dumb.) So the super eye rolls here (or my eye rolls anyways) are over why anyone would think it was clever to deliver that truth bomb in the first place.

You remind me of the religious studies majors I knew in undergrad who would not, could not believe that there's a lot of people who believe literally in the stories in the Bible rather than understanding them as metaphors for the nature of the divine.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:23 PM on April 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Aesthetics are calculated and cultivated, that's why they're aesthetics, read backwards it's "I'd like it if people didn't think about how they lived any way and had no personal preferences whatsoever."

Like every single human society has a concept of hairdos and ornamentation, is that a cultivated aesthetic?
posted by The Whelk at 10:01 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Like every single human society has a concept of hairdos and ornamentation, is that a cultivated aesthetic?

I'm sorry, we only accept hunted or gathered aesthetics.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:28 PM on April 22, 2015


The problem is not with the aesthetic being political and calculated, it is with the ignorance of the political and calculated aspects of the aesthetic and the mistaking of the constructed for the "natural" or "authentic".
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:37 PM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


The problem is not with the aesthetic being political and calculated, it is with the ignorance of the political and calculated aspects of the aesthetic and the mistaking of the constructed for the "natural" or "authentic".

But... why is it assumed that people who adopt this aesthetic are ignorant of these things? (Sure, some probably are: you can find some people who are almost anything given a group large enough. But more than any other?)

And even if they are ignorant of it, why is mockery (like in the main link of the post) a good response to that?
posted by forza at 11:53 PM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Gather up a whole bag of modern aesthetics and pour them out onto a field of azure letters spelling out

"SHIT FUCK I'M NOT HOMELESS"
posted by The Whelk at 1:20 AM on April 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


forza, if it's any consolation I don't read the OP as mean-spirited at all. That's partially because Carles' brings with him the context of his parody/sincerity thing (see elr's point about Carles growing up with him from nightclubs to charity galas), in which mode he used to post articles like:
  • Are Crusties the most authentic alts in the world?
  • Is Pavement a 'good'/influential band or just an idea that old alts are 'holding on 2'?
  • Is your personal brand compromised when you attend a relevant alternative event with your partner?
But even without knowing the guy, bear in mind that when he says things like:
The contemporary conformist believes that he/she is living a ‘natural life,’ and their entire life/personal brand/personality is a natural reaction to an over-branded childhood.
he follows it up with:
Don’t u srsly h8 contemporary conformists and how they think they are soo0o pure?

Are ContempConfies worse than mainstreamers/indies/EDMers/tweens?
Even if he's sincerely trying to 'make a point' or give u 'insight' abt currents trends and what they are 'trying 2 say,' it's packaged in a parody of subcultural critique.

That's not to say that screeds about the 'authenticity' of consumer choices aren't often vicious/frightened/defensive (because consumer authenticity is a zero sum game), it's just that in terms of bile, Carles is closer to Stuff White People Like.
posted by postcommunism at 6:46 AM on April 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wait never mind, he is 12?

This makes more sense if he's 12.
posted by The Whelk at 8:20 AM on April 23, 2015


I guess what is ridiculous about this is that now he's targeting upper middle class people with money who are gentrifying the gentrifiers-- and sure, those people can be awful and totally resistant to any kind of critical self-awareness, but the problem isn't that their aesthetics suck, it's that they're rich and selfish and ruining the world through greedy political irresponsibility. I don't give a fig how they theme their baby showers or weddings and if they turn their nose up at mason jars but love quirky light fixtures or not.
posted by easter queen at 10:09 AM on April 23, 2015


this is now officially my favorite thread in all of metafilter
posted by beefetish at 10:34 AM on April 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


There has to be a word to describe when you think something is garbage, but then you listen to why other people think it's garbage and you start to wonder if the original thing you thought was garbage might actually have a point.

Whatever that word is, this thread is making me feel that way.
posted by aspo at 10:43 AM on April 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


that word is metafilter.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:17 AM on April 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


But... why is it assumed that people who adopt this aesthetic are ignorant of these things? (Sure, some probably are: you can find some people who are almost anything given a group large enough. But more than any other?)

Because the aesthetic we're talking about consists in large part of an assertion of its own authenticity. That's, like, the operating thesis here.
posted by invitapriore at 11:27 AM on April 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


You remind me of the religious studies majors I knew in undergrad who would not, could not believe that there's a lot of people who believe literally in the stories in the Bible rather than understanding them as metaphors for the nature of the divine.

I can't tell if you mean to suggest that I'm too smart for Carlez or that a lot of people are just stupid enough.

The problem ... is with the ignorance of the political and calculated aspects of the aesthetic and the mistaking of the constructed for the "natural" or "authentic".

I guess? I mean, I think there are actually interesting things to say about the fashion for the industrial-meets-heritage-meets-DIY look and why it became so popular, just as there is with any period style—if you're in to that sort of thing—but my problem with the present piece is that LOL HPSTRS W/ M@SN JARS L8TR H8TRS+1 isn't one of those things. And an added helping of WAKE UP SHEEPLE and a dash of (satiric?) cultural puritanism doesn't help. There's nothing offensive about any of it, it's just like watching a guy mutter to himself.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:38 AM on April 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


People are sheeple so why should it be
everyone is dressing inauthentically
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:06 PM on April 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


If I drink out of mason jars because of practicality can it not count?

I really don't care what they look like. I use the big ones because they hold more liquid and are the biggest glass like vessel I have. I have plastic lids which is great if I'm drinking something that can use the occasional remixing. Usually there's just water in them. I go through tons of water and I hate having to get up and refill it, plus with the lid it means I can leave it where ever and not have to worry about any of the the five cats in the house sneaking drinks when I'm not looking.
posted by Jalliah at 2:25 PM on April 23, 2015


i drink out of my gym bottles at home for the same reason, but plastic because what if i drop it on my toe

my toe would be so upset
posted by poffin boffin at 2:29 PM on April 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


i drink out of my gym bottles at home for the same reason, but plastic because what if i drop it on my toe

my toe would be so upset


Hee.

My problem is I always lose my water bottles. I live with canner and even when I didn't live with the canner I was always getting canned goods. This means that there is always piles of mason jars hanging around.
posted by Jalliah at 2:34 PM on April 23, 2015


I can't tell if you mean to suggest that I'm too smart for Carlez or that a lot of people are just stupid enough.

So when I was in undergrad I spent a frustrating amount of time talking to religious studies majors (since we were the same department) and over and over and over again I'd run into the same mindset- religious liberals who would not, could not believe that fundamentalists really believed in the literal truth of, for example, the events of Exodus, or the last supper, or the Creation account in Genesis. These things were, to their minds, so utterly obviously metaphors and fables that I got told straight up time and again that nobody really believes those stories, despite having grown up around hundreds, thousands of such people.

That's how you strike me on this- yes, you're cognizant of the fact that all aesthetics are political and constructed. Cool. But most people simply do not think of it that way. Head out to any city in the US and ask people why they're wearing what they're wearing, and over and over again you're going to find people who feel that their clothes or their home decorations or their food preferences are a form of authentic self-expression. The whole point of the post is that what poses as authenticity is in fact calculated, constructed, political, marketed, not really "authentic" at all. This is a serious problem for an aesthetic which markets itself, as invitapriore says, on its own authenticity.

I guess? I mean, I think there are actually interesting things to say about the fashion for the industrial-meets-heritage-meets-DIY look and why it became so popular, just as there is with any period style—if you're in to that sort of thing—but my problem with the present piece is that LOL HPSTRS W/ M@SN JARS L8TR H8TRS+1 isn't one of those things. And an added helping of WAKE UP SHEEPLE and a dash of (satiric?) cultural puritanism doesn't help. There's nothing offensive about any of it, it's just like watching a guy mutter to himself.

Ah, so there are interesting things to say, but only if they don't point out that a style which aggressively markets itself as authentic is no such thing. Only if we buy into the myth can we discuss the myth.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:08 PM on April 23, 2015


I read this and thought, "Why does he hate vegetables so much?"
posted by rednikki at 10:58 PM on April 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I guess? I mean, I think there are actually interesting things to say about the fashion for the industrial-meets-heritage-meets-DIY look and why it became so popular, just as there is with any period style—if you're in to that sort of thing—but my problem with the present piece is that LOL HPSTRS W/ M@SN JARS L8TR H8TRS+1 isn't one of those things. And an added helping of WAKE UP SHEEPLE and a dash of (satiric?) cultural puritanism doesn't help. There's nothing offensive about any of it, it's just like watching a guy mutter to himself.

This is in and of itself a pose, a languid, my-aren't-we-worldly conversational aesthetic.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:34 AM on April 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is in and of itself a pose, a languid, my-aren't-we-worldly conversational aesthetic.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:34 AM on April 24 [+] [!]


I think if this thread teaches us anything it's that one person's languid, my-aren't-we-wordly conversation aesthetic is another person's authentic style.
posted by edbles at 8:28 AM on April 24, 2015


I have actually come to the opposite conclusion.

And I think between your comment and mine, that's this thread in a nutshell.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:11 AM on April 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


The whole point of the post is that what poses as authenticity is in fact calculated, constructed, political, marketed, not really "authentic" at all. This is a serious problem for an aesthetic which markets itself, as invitapriore says, on its own authenticity.

I was trying to write a reply to this and then I came to the conclusion that, starting from Carles and working outwards, the whole thing is so vague that I haven't a clue what it's about. Something something mason jars edison bulbs exposed brick chambray shirts. That's all I got. Dude does caption a mean picture, tho. I hope he keeps that up.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:50 PM on April 24, 2015 [1 favorite]




« Older "There have been struggles; there is no doubt...   |   This is why I scoop spiders up with toilet paper Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments