Combat! blog has returned to Missoula, where the weather is suspiciously nice and normalcy resumes. I should warn you that we will only be operational for a short time. On Friday I drive down to Jackson, Wyoming to hang out with Stubble and his girlfriend, and I won’t get back until Tuesday, so this is pretty much the only regular blog post for a week. But how fine it is! Last week, the White House redistributed a column headlined “Trump’s budget makes perfect sense and will fix America, and I will tell you why” in support of its proposed budget. The column, by Washington Post humorist Alexandra Petri, was satire. Petri suspects that they didn’t actually read it but assumed from the headline that it supported their position. In this way, the Trump administration continues to operate as your aunt’s Facebook feed come to life.
As any Amish person will tell you, one of the best things about being alienated from popular culture is having something to define your values against. I do not like Ke$ha; ergo, when Ke$ha is materialistic and stupid, I am nuanced and wise. This phenomenon is made more versatile by ignorance. I am disconnected from radio and television, so by definition I don’t really know what’s on there. I can therefore impute to it any values I reject. It’s like the way the alien in Alien is really scary until you get a good look at it; your imagination makes it so. I have seen exactly one episode of Girls, and so Lena Dunham has come to embody everything I despise.
Fact: it is okay to be mean to rich people. You probably shouldn’t, since habitually being mean will make you into a bitter, unpleasant person,* but if you must contemn someone it’s better they’re wealthy. Hereditary wealth is the best. To be mean to the self-made millionaire is player hating. To be mean to someone who received wealth (say from her mother’s brewery) and fame/a public platform (say from her father’ failed bid at the presidency) through zero work creates a pleasing symmetry. That person was arbitrarily given a life of absurd privilege, and now she is arbitrarily criticized for failing to be the kid of person who could achieve it on her own. Take Meghan McCain. Her column at the Daily Beast is a weekly anti-advertisement for a Columbia education, and her political analyses combine banal received opinion with false marverickery, like someone ordering off the menu at McDonalds. As Leon Wolf at RedState discovered, she’s ripe for parody. Always remember, though, that rich people have lawyers.
Perhaps, like me, you had heard of Hipster Runoff but never actually read it. The site is a sort of parody of mp3 blogs, but to describe it that way is like describing Andy Kaufman as a wrestling comedian. Hipster Runoff is written by Carles, a fictional character whose style is defined by A) relentless use of chat jargon and B) a proliferation of scare quotes, which he seems to put around any concept he does not feel totally comfortable with. Here’s Carles on the vexing question of what he calls bubblegum indie:
What if MGMT’s “KIDS” had come out in 2011? Would they be able to morph into an intriguing ‘indie’ buzzband. When analyzing their ‘success’ in the context of a bubblegum indie MP3 that propelled them to super-mindie stardom, it is easier to understand their ‘drastic change in direction’ for their second album, just to attempt to get rid of some of the entry-level fans who ‘liked’ them 4 the ‘wrong reasons.’
I guess really those are scare apostrophes, but you get the point. Irony of ironies, all is irony. Besides the hilarious conceit of wondering how everything might have been different if it happened, like, three years later, something is being expressed here. What Carles means by “bubblegum indie” is never clearly defined, and he winds up applying it to pretty much every popular-and-then-too-popular hipster jam of the decade. That’s his point. Hipster Runoff is a blog about the existential bugbear of hipsterism: authenticity.