Back in January, Kurt Andersen wrote a piece for Vanity Fair about how popular style has been in a holding pattern over the last 20 years. Instead of moving design and style forward, for some reason, we are hitting repeat. He cited some good examples, which put the trend on my radar as well.
This is not coming from a cranky, Andy Rooney place. Nostalgia has become a major theme in everyday life, from fonts to fashion. In one of the last episodes of The Sopranos, Tony said, "'Remember When' is the lowest form of conversation." With that in mind, perhaps it's also the lowest form of design and culture -- and it's time to move on.
Owls: Initially, the idea seemed quaint. Owls are lovable, esoteric creatures that were showing up on everything. For anyone born in the 70s or 80s, they provided a quick dash of nostalgia -- perhaps to a beloved Brownie troop or a Tootsie pop commercial.
The problem now is that they are everywhere. Hate to say it, owl, but you're overexposed. I'm waiting for Portlandia to do a spoof in which we Put An Owl On It. Walk around Brooklyn, and there's yet another hipster girl with an owl on her purse. Maybe it's even on the brooch that she bought at Urban Outfitters. What was once unique is now ubiquitous.
If we want to keep with the woodland creature theme, let's do hedgehogs. They're small, furry and you can even adopt one as a pet. (Your landlord would not appreciate finding an owl flying around your apartment.) They haven't had their moment in the sun yet and certainly don't have any Carter presidency connotations
Brooklyn As A Punchline: Friends With Kids, an otherwise great movie, reminded me that no matter how much Brooklyn markets itself as a perfectly viable option to Manhattan, pockets of mainstream pop culture will continue to mock it. It will always be Jan to Manhattan's Marcia. Regardless that it has its own vibe and lifestyle on par with Big Sister Gotham, it still gets knocked into the "other" category.
It's not just Friends With Kids. Sex And The City made quite a few jokes when Miranda needed more space and moved out to Brooklyn. Google "Brooklyn Cliché" and pieces lamenting the stereotypes abound. It's getting old. Brooklyn's not an alternate universe where people who are priced out of Manhattan go to die and/or raise children. Perhaps there is no quicker way to flaunt one's ignorance of the borough than to portray it as an urban version of Narnia
Romanticizing Analog: If not for abandoning analog, I would not be able to write these words. You would not be able to read them on your phone or on your tablet. Yet, it's become trendy to regress into romanticizing analog technology as if we left behind a beloved rubyiat.
There are iPhone covers that look like cassette tapes, but anyone who ever had to use a cassette knows that all that black tape could easily get tangled up in a wayward stereo. We like to laud vinyl, but it was quite susceptible to being warped by heat. If the needle on the record player was broken, there was no party to be had. Instagram aims to give digital photos a vintage feel, but real print photos were expensive to process and difficult to share without making copies.
I understand that to a younger generation, some of these objects seem quaint, but digital music is the best thing to ever happen to a music aficionado. If I hear a song I like playing in Starbucks, I can instantly look it up on Spotify and listen to it whenever I want. It's free. There are no more $2.99 Cassingles piling up, no more wasting paper route money on a song that I'd listen to twice. Consider yourselves lucky that all you have to do is worry if there is enough juice in your iPod to listen to the free trove of music. I would have killed for such a thing when I was 12.
Olde Tyme Anything: Fellas, I can assure you of one thing, chicks do not dig a guy with a Rollie Fingers mustache who looks like something out of an 1890s tin type. Sure, it's fun to put on a bowler hat and some suspenders and yuck it up at the bar on a Saturday night, but I can guarantee these antics will not get you laid. Fashion moves on for a reason. If you insist on emulating a historical era (Again, pourquoi?) I recommend the Jazz Age. Chicks dig a guy in a sharp suit. It's 2012 -- the future! -- it's two years past the year when we are supposed to make contact with aliens. Let's dress appropriately.