I am a college-educated liberal urbanite with his own weekly music column and an appreciation for all things pop culture. And while I like to think myself as an exception, this demographic breakdown intrinsically captures a subset of the population who are, without a doubt, the worst.
Loosely defined as “hipsters” by anyone who rightly doesn’t give a shit about discerning intricacies, these men and women thrive on a currency of cool that determines its value from a mix of kitsch and esotericism. Think of the all the dumb handlebar moustaches — and yes I am anti-moustache; grow a beard like a man — and fixed gear bikes you’ve seen. All these “quirky” signifiers of personality are actually well-worn and proven identifiers of a certain hipness that needs to be worn like a badge. They aren’t individualizing; they are homogenizing.
Prototypical non-comformist fads are deemed trend-worthy by an unseen panel of judges that know nothing outside of what they gleamed from underground fashion magazines, then they are adopted by a small mass audience as a manifestation of their “uniqueness”.
Basically, to make this all a little too self-aware(/hypocritical), I’d like to paraphrase Alicia Silverstone’s character in the 1995 masterpiece Clueless: I don’t want to be a traitor to my generation and all, but I don’t get how people act today.
Especially when it comes to Pizza Underground.
For those of you fortunate enough to be in the dark on this one, Pizza Underground is a Velvet Underground cover band fronted by Macaulay Culkin of Home Alone fame that changes the lyrics of the original songs to be about pizza.
Seriously, I know. You don’t have to go into it.
It sounds like the ending to a Mad Libs.
Except it’s a real thing; a real thing that some people claim to be very excited about.
Some called the news “the greatest pizzachievement of all time” (sorry Bagel Bites); others “filed it under awesome.” StereoGum, a site I usually recommend for musicphiles, claimed they “have seen the future of rock and roll, and it is delicious.” Jezebel told us, “We are all better for this existing.”
No, we are not.
In a wonderful NYT op-ed, a teacher at Princeton named Christy Wampole warns about the dangers of ironic living:
The ironic frame functions as a shield against criticism. The same goes for ironic living. Irony is the most self-defensive mode, as it allows a person to dodge responsibility for his or her choices, aesthetic and otherwise. To live ironically is to hide in public.
Irony is killing our ability to be real.
It takes the difficult concept of earnestness and buries it under self-reference and self-deprecation.
One of Pizza Underround’s few digital assets is a 4 1/2 minute video of Culkin eating a slice of pizza. It has over 500,000 views on YouTube. Literally, for 4 1/2 minutes he is just eating a slice of pizza.
Wampole says that our current ironic life “stems in part from the belief that this generation has little to offer in terms of culture, that everything has already been done, or that serious commitment to any belief will eventually be subsumed by an opposing belief, rendering the first laughable at best and contemptible at worst.”
And that’s worth remembering when you hear that Culkin played a kazoo solo during a live show in NYC that they were 45 minutes late for and which only lasted for 8 minutes.
Now to paraphrase the character of Jeff McCallister (Kevin’s uncle) in the 1990 holiday classic Home Alone: Macaulay, you’re a disease.
Originally published in The Daily Banter on 12/23/23