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May 2, 2023·edited May 2, 2023

The ineluctable desire to count hipsters! Old Williamsburg joke: `Q: How many hipsters does it take to change a light bulb? A: You mean you don’t already know?`

One thing about hipsters, they’re always telling you it’s over. I was told that when I moved to Billyburg 2001. Then the NYT wrote it up, so that was really over. By 2008 & your Nick and Nora that moment was backdrop for rom-coms, by 2011 self-parody in Portlandia, by 2022 nostalgia in sitcoms and the revisionism of Meet Me in the Bathroom.

I doubt hipster culture has been replaced by poptimism. It was always awkward in the dayglo of the mainstream. It broke, attracted money, then economics moved a generation out of the neighborhoods. (Although I saw a lot of grey hair at Wet Leg`s gig at Union Pool.) Many had kids. Some of those kids are unsurprisingly alienated from the mainstream. Don’t get them started on mall goths or Hot Topic.

Now there’s always someone ready with a YouTube rundown on the history of goth, grunge or post-punk or what came before. Cost of entry to subcultures is reduced. Somebody out there is buying those cassette tape versions of albums made on nuclear test equipment while sharing their own phased locked loops.

Since the 40s hipsters have curated intentional subculture, often co-opting older or other cultures. Occasionally that triggers a fad or a fashion which, in hipster terms, was over before it went mainstream. Those awkward kids still need their own scenes for some sense of belonging.

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RE: The Abyss -- I didn't see the film until the National Air and Space Museum showed a pristine print on the IMAX screen which blew me away (back in the day, NASM has Sci-Fi Friday. How I miss it -- Also Top Gun with those speakers up to full blast, but now I'm geezin). Any way, I support Mr. Cameron's position that the only way to see "The Abyss" is in the highest rez available.

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Whenever I see pieces like this about having to adhere to progressive views or promote progressive values, I always have the same question: Which views? What values? What ideas are so upsetting and why are they never specified instead of gestured at with a progressive label?

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The only thing worse than hipsters, nerds and kommisars are crappy faux-highbrow essays that try to explain why one group is "in" while the others are "out". Now, who is going to give me back my 20 minutes of wasted time? Is there an algorithm for that?

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Mathew Ball's Streaming Book is a free ebook. So, click the link.

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The thing about the essays like the one on the death of the nerd is that they contain a lot of insight but never manage to be fully convincing. There are ways in which nerd culture marked one as unpopular. There are parts of nerd culture that never made it fully mainstream like most anime and LAROing. Patlabor Mobile Police and Bubblegum Crisis are not going to become megahits in the States.

The Marvel explosion coincided with the rise of the international cinema market and a special effects revolution which made mutant powers look cool and not risible on screen.

But I agree with the essays point that tge key characteristic of the nerd is extreme childlike enthusiasm and a defensive reaction against a comcetof taste

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I've read this a couple of times, and to be honest, it goes a bit above my head. Would I be wrong to think that it's a round about way of getting to anti-woke? I mean, little jab at 'because it's popular it must be good,' but the real wind up is to der kommisar, which term is not at all unpleasant in its connotations? I think maybe a few concrete example might have helped me to understand. What, exactly has der kommisar done? Which movies, tv shows, etc have been kommisared?

It's possible to be both woke and to tell a good story. Possible, but rare. My opinion is that any entertainment which is didactic - puts its message, political, social, whatever -above good storytelling is just not that good. Or good at all. Most likely I'll turn it off.

But when an entertainment is both woke and good story telling...really, what could be better? When we see something old in a new way, that's the best possible woke. Which is why I'm commenting here, so I can say how very, very much I like The English on AZ prime. Frankly, I was thrilled. It delivers on the everlasting tropes of the western - horse and rider galloping through the dark night without slowing or stumbling. A good man on his horse silhouetted against the sunset. A lone woman standing against the forces who mean to do her harm. Intwined with these evocations of the myths ( and by myth I mean what is told about who we are and where we come from without regard to truthfulness or its lack) of the western there is misogyny and genocide. By including the historical facts os misogyny and genocide, the myth becomes more resonant and moving. Leaving them out is just the same old same old.

(Dear Sonny, I wonder if you've considered inviting readers to name their 5 top movies, with reasons why. You probably have, and have your reasons as to why you don't. But... maybe...some day? Thanks.)

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I did read The Streaming Wars and fully appreciate your pain that it gets so little attention. Maybe it's too complex, mind-bogglingly expensive, painful when it's supposed to be all fun all the time? Or maybe it's hard to feel sorry for flush companies with such richly paid smug execs? Idk. But I do see that you could probably dissect each step/misstep in much greater detail; naming names (with flaming character analysis), outlining idiocy and hubris, etc. Perhaps the underlying theory that endless growth is the only rational business plan might be flawed? I would read it. Business schools should teach it (they won't...). And a great movie should be made about it in about 3 years after all the 5 year plans have run their course.

Hat's off. It's a lonely battle when you're the lone chronicler.

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I look forward to BG2H every week but was surprised this one turned into an anti “woke” piece. I do agree 100% with MCU / True Lies points! Studios are putting more into expected ROI than they are about checking the progressive boxes.

Americans and especially zoomers and millennials are becoming more aware and can now decide to spend money and time on historically under-told stories made by under-represented groups and people. Also I can choose not to spend money on a Mel Gibson movie now that I know he’s a virulent anti-semite.

We still get John Wick and Better Call Saul and Evanovich’s stereotypically trashy Lula.

As with most anti-woke complaints (I can see Bill Maher making similar points if he had an entertainment blog) this one seems to be a case of cherry picking to support a hypothesis and magnifying the cultural peril of previous out groups moving in.

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I don't think it's possible to comment honestly on what is happening in the world of pop culture without addressing the way it is produced and written about. If that makes this piece anti-"woke," a phrase that appears nowhere within it, so be it.

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And Apple TV+ is my only streaming service, because I like the sports there enough to pay for it and watch the occasional scripted drama or comedy. It’s not expensive either. So yes, I will watch True Lies.

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The most vivid display of Der Kommisar's five canons may be found in NPR 's coverage of arts and entertainment. It's not at all uncommon to listen to a story all the way through and learn nothing about the work except the intersectionality score of the artist. What infuriates me most as a gay man is the frequent identification of the artist or the critic as "queer". These twerps, sure in the belief that the world popped into existence when they dropped down the chute circa 1990, seem willfully ignorant of the fact the word is and always has been a vile slur, all too often the last word a gay man heard before his skull was bashed in. These folks are fortunate, perhaps, that the word has been drained of any identifiable meaning except "having once had a mildly unusual sexual fantasy", if that.

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While I tire of intersectionality, I think your generalization re NPR arts coverage is overly broad. Re queer - well being in NYC and in the arts community, queers has not always been used as a slur in the manner you mention. And in the art some mention of "queer" culture is certainly meant only to describe.

Not being gay, I will see have this is sorted out.

As someone who attended art school and was often address as "McKenna, you f****t" (by my non artist acquaintances) I give up.

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If I may: you can argue about Der Kommisar ad nauseam, but the mass market of “entertainment,” AKA stuff I enjoy, won’t necessarily give you Toni Morrison’s Beloved. It wouldn’t give you Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. It wouldn’t give you anything by Richard Wright or James Baldwin especially, b/c of assumptions we, the “market” and/or majority consumers make about the stories those authors are telling. It won’t give you Guernica, ffs, and so much else. It won’t give you stories we as a people need to hear, but need. So if Der Kommisar rains on your parade a bit, suck it up. Der Kommisar serves a purpose. Photography was this cool technology that allowed people to memorialize their dead loved ones* until Jacob Riis turned his lenses on the living children of the tenements of New York and made history, as well as both art AND needed social policy.

* Oh so creepy.

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An adaptation of THE COLOR PURPLE was made almost 40 years ago. All of those things you mentioned exist and existed in the before times well before the Der Kommisar era. I am not sure what point you’re making.

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“It won’t give you stories we as a people DON’T want to hear, but need.” As my son says, you don’t re-read stuff before you post it, do you?”

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founding

Props, Sonny. Well thought out, well-articulated and pretty much correct on the Poptimism thing, IMO.

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Thank you!

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Hmmmmm. Largely in agreement with the whole hipster-algorithm-kommisar trajectory 9and attendant psychology) that you touch upon here, but as a mentioned in notes, I think you are missing out, in a sense, with the whole "influencer" thing that plays into this whole dynamic somehow...

Has the influencer been replaced by the algorithm, as well or is there a symbiotic relationship there? Or is it the eternal question of the cool vs the popular which gives us the cycle of cool-popular-uncool-new cool ad nauseum.

True Lies is a masterpiece, THE best Arnold mover, bar none (that's not saying it's great art, however ;)).

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I think “influencers” are more like paid pitchmen than true influencers of “the culture.”

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Okay, I can see that.

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I’m glad you explained the rules about “correct” artistic expression. I used to roll my eyes at complaints about “woke” movies, TV, etc. until I started paying attention. Then it became unbearable the way the lectures and finger-wagging were forced into every episode of anything I watched. I’ve stopped watching shows that forgot they were supposed to be entertaining. I hope you are right that these are on the wane.

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True Lies was a fun, light hearted, attempt by Arnold to be James Bond, but it really wasn't that great of a film. Schwarzenegger was just savvy enough to realize that people liked it when he played against the action figure character he had previously become. Clearly he saw how well Twins and Kindergarten Cop did and he realized that a lighter image was the way to box office success... which worked until Jingle All the Way was just too dumb. Apparently people really liked True Lies though or CBS wouldn't be reviving it as a TV series. And of course it fits right into the CBS canon, take a washed up star with name appeal, surround them with a bunch of young actors and bam, you have a show. Except this time, it's not even the star actor, it's just the title that has name appeal.

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