The Culture of Impotent Defiance

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Joined: 23-04-10
Apr 12 2011 16:57
The Culture of Impotent Defiance

It is self evident that membership in the clan of youth of contemporary culture is to accept being defiant to the "establishment". Perpetually and over decades, rock stars are all rebelling against a society that shuns them by changing their appearance in a way that breaks the norms and conventions of society encompassing them. Pop stars have taken their lead after observing the appeal unconventional appearance has on popularity and sales of albums and followed suit, culminating with the latest incarnation of the much revered and even critically acclaimed persona called Lady Gaga. Of course, none of this means that those musicians have much to offer in remedying their grievances against the status quo apart from an emotional outlet valve that allows people to "rage against the machine" and similar witty phrases which, dissected and analyzed, are not much more other than witty and even that only minimally though advertising style creativity of stringing together self contradicting terms.

We observe this adoration of defiance of the conventional culture in different manifestations by those who idolize those musicians, presumably not due to their approach to music and musical abilities because, for all but a few, their musical abilities are by far superseded by their attention-whoring. I will be so bold as to postulate that for most of those stars and for most part, the fan adulation is precisely because of their open defiance to the conventions and norms of traditional environments they all stem from and are products of. There are hardly any rock stars who don't come from working or middle class backgrounds, often troubled with dysfunctional family or poverty circumstances in their childhood and formative years. Pop stars, for most part, are from middle and affluent class backgrounds with some here and there growing up in environments with varying dysfunctional degrees e.g. Michael Jackson. They have all figured out an emotional outlet for their frustrations which allows them to play music and find adoration and "love" they seek in their personal lives on stage. That love is granted conditionally by their typically young fans, in exchange for a taste and proximity to the incarnation of The American Teen Dream - that of a lone-wolf desperado, giving the finger to The Imaginary Man and living life by her or his own rules. Rules which, in reality, only deviate slightly in the majority of cases by lifestyle and appearance and are simply not subject to the same degree of scrutiny as for the rest and, yet, very much enabled by the culture of rampant consumerism, indulgence and accumulation of capital. In other words - they are fakes and worshiped for acting out someone else's fantasy they have long since overindulged in to enjoy. The operative word being 'acting', but more on that somewhere else.

In another example - the internet culture, seemingly inexplicably merging with the mainstream popular culture in the past few years. Part of the reason for that are technological advances that allow less technical people more access to broadcast their ideas and thoughts but another part is that the internet is virtually parallel with the mainstream music fans in the regard of being dominated by youth idolizing defiance to cultural norms. On the internet, participants do take things a step further and participate in contributing which is more due to the nature of the technology that lends itself to that dynamic, as opposed audience/performer nature of the pop-rock music industry. They display similar interests of lashing out rage against invisible enemies (The Them), hated in unison for their love of the conventional. Of course, blinded by youth they fail to see that the antithesis of a convention that everyone must adhere to is a convention in itself, but more on that somewhere else.

What I really want to get at is that the western culture broadly and upper and middle class youth of that culture specifically, have a really pressing need to tell us what they think about the world we have shaped for them. And what they have to say is that they are quite disgusted by our conventions and wish to have them replaced with others, most of which fit hand in glove with age old clichés of appearance, linguistics and entertainment all neatly packaged and wrapped under a call for (more?) freedom. It seems that stuffy, overprotective parent's of the nineties, fed on Oprah and Fox Network, turned their children into adolescent caged animals. Not wolves or tigers, mind you. More like frustrated domesticated animals, not unlike pigs in heat. I know that calling an entire generation of prospective and soon to prove me wrong engineers, lawyers and Presbyterians, a bunch of barnyard animals looking for a mate is a bit of an over-generalization. I'll admit that it is. But it's hardly a stretch to call people in general domesticated animals given public displays by some members of the species like Glenn Beck. It is also not so farfetched to call adolescents in their late teens on a hormonal path to find a mate 'in heat' so let's just compromise by keeping it exactly the way I said it, OK? Besides, no genome in the domesticated animal kingdom is closer to humans then pigs. Our diets are similar, too, but more on that somewhere else.

This rabid need to escape the cage and lack of learned abilities to fend for themselves in the "wild" on their own is making the suburban middle class youth of today gravitate to escapism that satisfies both requirements of venting that frustration as well as living out the fantasy of being free to do what they want. All relatively speaking, of course. I don't think any teenager cooped up in a 4 by 4 with a laptop and DSL is actually fantasizing about Mad Max apocalypse kind of freedom. Well, I'm sure some are but most - nah, not really. Just the freedom to go out and not be afraid they'll be eaten alive by the indigent or raped to death by a Mexican illegal or seen in public by their peers. You know - freedom. Circa suburbia USA, 1995-2011 style. "Trapped" in their rooms with nothing but fatty, sugary treats and unlimited bandwidth they are doing what most soldiers who have been through basic training and pumped full of fear and distrust of other people - they are lashing out. This is great for the USMC. On both counts. Not so great for those kids trapped in their rooms or in the Marine Corp.

The suburban youth are lashing out at the "enemy". Only Marines are also conditioned to follow orders unquestionably, which makes it relatively easy to direct their rage at particular groups - Vietnamese civilians, Afghan civilians, Iraqi civilians and so on. The middle class youth of today have to identify their enemy on their own. Their field of options is pretty broad - any adult over the age of 35. And all the hipsters under 35. And anyone who rejects them. And anyone whose clique they don't belong to. And anyone South Park makes fun of. And everyone who already has attained their "freedom" away at college. And their younger siblings or cousins. Basically everyone except for babies, puppies, kittens and select few of their peers in immediate vicinity. Armed with the knowledge that the world is out to get them, they are fighting back by forming organizations and leagues. Emulating their parents and teachers who are always participating in community meetings that they were taken to from an early age, they are congregating in youth centers and discussing socio-economic problems that affect people in poorer communities in their areas. They are demanding more rights, better healthcare and education for their peers and lobbying to drop the voting age to 16 and seeking to take this community meeting format out into the open and on the internet to create the first global network of activists.

Nah - I'm just fucking with you. They are mostly in chatrooms, playing WoW, pretending to be Anonymous and jerking off. In between these activities, they are creating images, jokes and discussing these memes, themed on popular culture commentary inspired by a host of TV (which they hate) programming a la Simpsons (Family Guy, Futurama, Cleveland Brown, South Park et al) which mock other things they see on TV (which they hate) and using them to create hate support groups united in their belief that is best to be above it all. The first glimpse of the coming of age generation’s adult aspiration of protest in defiance to the established order is the Stewart/Colbert Rally to Restore Indifference... er... Sanity much better analyzed by Stand Up! With Pete Dominick. It is here that we catch the beginnings of 21st century’s version of the 60's Counter Culture "movement" - half as relevant and twice as cynical. The hippie suburbanite Baby Boomers were able to sneak in some victories for the advancement and betterment of society - most notably anti-war protests against Vietnam that was looming on their own doorstep with The Dreaded Draft - between dropping acid and expanding their minds by having orgies with self-proclaimed feminists who thought that having armpit hair constituted a political position (and later shaved the armpits when they started filming these spectacles for commercial purposes). The Gen Y-ers live up to their DNA decoder ring label - they are faceless, bland copies of copies of their grandparents' already pale to begin with dream to create freedom and equality and lots of fucking for anyone who is not poor or an ethnic minority in the entire... United States.

This culture of impotent defiance is now permeating in the coming generation, with blind rage against all human compassion, deemed obsolete. Epithets like "nigger", "faggot", "cunt" and others in that vein are not uncommon on internet billboards famed for their love of "freedom" and freedom of speech, in particular. They are rightly lashing out against the pseudo-moral, 90's political correctness legacy and then misdirecting those lashes precisely against the people that the PC programs designed to wash away white, neolib guilt were supposedly meant to protect. Anyone pointing this out and deviating from that norm is a "white knight” and various other new epithets designed to mock any hints at respecting human beings as virtuous. All seasoned with a healthy dose of sophomore nihilism induced by misinterpretations and reading partial works of Friedrich Nietzsche coupled with Gordon Gecko complex. Their impotent defiance misdirected to begin with is now being redirected to seep into a virtual reality outside of those internet message boards and IRC channels. But instead of taking to the streets in the company of others, they are in true testimony to the propaganda machine that they are a product of forming Secret Virtual Clubs, which are based on punk rock lifestyle principle of "fuck everything" and are now targeting for antagonism various bodies and organizations which, evidently, are somehow most responsible for the stifling convention and values that have imprisoned them for most their lives. Like The Church of Scientology, for instance. Yeah. We'll show those bastards how to have a major influence on the contemporary culture and, in so doing, giving us the closed door treatment. How? By ridiculing them and disrupting their internet services until they have a few of us threatened with subpoenas and then we'll back down and makes some jokes about it, of course.

Yip. The underground culture of the internet revolutionaries is nothing more than a few script kiddies playing MMORPG of Internet Rambo with websites and email accounts between sessions of YouTube and YouPorn. A far cry from the manifesto calling for sovereignty from governments of the industrial world, "weary giants of flesh and steel". Yes, this is the generation picking up that torch and yes, we have failed them miserably. We have not set an example in plain sight which they could observe and emulate other than to display greed and pettiness and so-called peaceful but in actuality obedient, non-disruptive marches for Peace In The Abstract; walks for the sake of walking off our frustrations and going to sleep safe in the knowledge we did our bit. We have not fought for the Declaration of Independence of The Internet, we have not preserved their right and claim to autonomy in that space and they are paying us back our just reward with interest.

It seems those weary giants were not so weary, after all. That impotent defiance with which we sought to dethrone them and, in so doing, have embedded in our society is now permeating throughout that society with the generations to come. They are cushioned cozily in their ergonomic chairs and on their mobile devices while the poor and destitute are still turning their heads away and looking down in shame from waiting on us to follow through with more than merely addressing those governments of industrial world with demands stemming from authority "with which liberty itself always speaks". Mere declarations of global social space, independent of the tyrannies those giants have succeeded in imposing. They were waiting on us to finish that which we said we were building and have never finished, as we turned our attention towards being that which we sought to replace.

We are now idling and waiting for the next Hunter S. Thompson of impotent defiance to emerge from the rubble of broken dreams and reinvent a new style of expression that we can then point to as a positive result, nay the point, of our "effort" - the net effect of which is comparable to that of a fart in a space-suit making a nuisance of itself while exploring its boundaries. Able to comprehend the context of those boundaries partially and too weak to escape them.

cantdocartwheels's picture
Joined: 15-03-04
Apr 12 2011 21:55

“Driven to admit that there is, perhaps, some tension in society, when perhaps overwhelming pressure brings industry to a standstill or barricades to the streets years after the liberals had dismissed the notion as ‘dated romanticism’, the journalist invents the notion that this constitutes a clash of generations. Youth, after all, is not a permanent condition, and a clash of generations is not so fundamentally dangerous to the art of government as would be a clash between rulers and ruled.”