Thursday, 14 January 2016

ALTERNATIVE (WHITE)

Someone doesn't quite fit into Nazi Barbie's gang.

by Ryan Andrews

Unlike people, culture is never entirely black or white, but it does move around a lot between these theoretical poles. As the Obama administration has progressed (by happy coincidence), the aesthetic of youth pop culture has increasingly turned towards the “black.” Judging by the recent lifespan of these swings, we may be at “Peak Black;” but this is not an exact science. I do however think—and I base this opinion on historical precedent and what I think is commonsense—that these things go in cycles. Eventually, one or several of the various reactions against the “black aesthetic” will develop into a mass phenomenon—an alternative pop cultural aesthetic will emerge, and my hope is that the Alternative Right will play some role in creating it (as opposed to merely latching on to it).

First, I should explain my terminology. Trends in popular music, fashion, and beauty ideals are my focus here. “Pop culture aesthetics” is greater than these three parts, but it is in these areas that the black and white shifts are most obvious, at least to me. My aesthetic designations of “black” and “white” are, very loosely, derived from certain stereotypes about relative differences between the white and black races. (And beyond race, the symbolic darkness vs. light dichotomy, which we all understand, is appropriate here.)

"of the earth" (possibly a euphemism)
The black aesthetic is physical, flashy and superficial; it is self-involved and nonintellectual, sexual and naturalistic. In short, you might call it “of the earth.”

The white pop cultural aesthetic is more difficult to pin down, even in a general sense, because in practice it manifests as an alternative to some aspect of the black aesthetic. I think this is because while everyone has both “white” and “black” inclinations, on the whole, most people are “black.” Obviously, though, this is a relative judgment based on where I choose to draw the line.

It is easy enough to define the abstract characteristics that have long set white civilizations apart from the rest—more contemplative, a greater tenderness, and a striving for something transcendent. But the subject of this paper is something much smaller and more immediate.

The white pop cultural aesthetic—which, by the way, is not necessarily the creation of whites, just as black pop cultural aesthetics are not necessarily creations of blacks—is, as I have said, an alternative, or a reaction, to the generally dominant black aesthetic. This white alternative might be more restrained and somber, and sometimes it is more contemplative and transcendent, but the best way that I can think to describe it is that it is less “of the earth,” and even this vague description is not comprehensive. You simply know it when you see it.

In the early 90s, alternative rock became mainstream. Sex is always a focal point for rock and pop music. But, compared with what came before it, this was less true for alternative rock. Its outlook was much less exuberant and more melancholy, and, yes, more contemplative. At the same time, the outlandish fashion styles of the 80s gave way, and the cool kids started dressing like disheveled hikers from the Pacific Northwest. This represented a white shift. Shortly thereafter, the “waif look” replaced the bombshell physical ideal of the 80s.

The antechamber to nihilism.
By the turn of the millennium, pop culture began to turn black again, although it did not go as far in this direction as was the case in the 80s. Eminem emerged as Hip-Hop’s Elvis at the same time that alternative rock was petering-out. Rock music became more aggressive, and actually tried to incorporate rapping vocals. Alternative rock stations (at least in Chicago) even began to play Kanye West songs. Wiggers increased in number, and a greater share of white-signaling whites took to country music—which quality- and content-wise, is rap music for white people. Pure pop music enjoyed a resurgence. I do not remember any significant change in the physical ideal (perhaps more boyish men? or was that a 90s holdover?), but I think the ‘curvy is beautiful’ campaign might have started around this time.

After the dramatic swings of the 80s and 90s, the pendulum seemed to oscillate nearer its equilibrium during the first decade of the twenty-first century. And so the minor black reorientation early in the decade was followed by a minor white reorientation, sometime around the middle of the decade. Rock staged a mini-comeback, and folkish music gained in popularity.

In other times, folk music might qualify as relatively black. It is a close call. But here it was relatively white because it was (partially) displacing pop music. Alternative rock DJs joked about the dark days when they had played Kanye West songs. The wigger population declined. The trend in sports team logos and uniforms was towards simplicity and restraint. Young men stopped dying their hair platinum blond. And of course, there was the rise the hipster.

The implicit Whiteness of beards n' tats.
“Hip” young people colonizing urban areas was nothing new, but this time, the group had an unprecedented influence on the styles and sensibilities of young adults. If you were a twenty-something white American living in a city circa 2010, you were probably a hipster. And many more members of this tribe could be found in every corner of the country. Hipsterdom is a massive movement that moves in many directions, and many within it tend toward a slovenly and lazy route. On the whole though, their fashions and manners are more elegant than the youth culture that preceded it. Its particular manifestations may be hamfisted, but at the core of the hipster is a desire to be, and to have, something authentic.

But now we are back into the black, guys. The metrosexual of the early twenty-first century is back, only this time it is blacker because there is more of an emphasis on being buff (within the metrosexual community and without). The preferred body-type for hipster men (and women) was a sort of lissome medieval ideal. The intuition behind this was that excessive devotion to ones physical body was unworthy of their time, and at the same time, to encourage the perception that they were thin without working at it. Thinness always signals that one is less “of the earth,” but all the more so if it comes to the person naturally. Conversely, the buff metrosexual of today wants you to know that he is working for ‘them gains.’ His social media accounts are full of progress pics and photos taken at the gym. (The shameless narcissism on social media is probably the blackest development of all.)

The change has been even more dramatic among women. A decade ago, having a big ass was a big problem. Jennifer Lopez’s butt looked like it was from a cartoon; now we see similar asses everyday without batting an eye. It is not that guys ten years ago expressed a preference for small asses, it is just that we (aside from country boys and blacks) did not really pay it much notice. Now, today’s young women do not want fat asses, they just want bigger asses. They work-out to increase the size of their asses. Indeed, they want to be thicker in general, but fit-thick, not fat-thick. The ideal female body-type now is basically a gymnast-look, but with a more of a sexy twist. Instead of exercising to perform a sport, the aim of young women is to exaggerate their feminine curves.

Kardashian upping the ass stakes.
Wiggers remain irrelevant, but all these new black bodies need black clothes, and the market is meeting this demand. Hipster stores have adjusted, selling more neon wares, pants with elastic at the ankles, and such. Most interesting (to me) though, has been the resurgence of the Eurotrash style (and the Eurotrash aesthetic is fairly black). Department stores are carrying even more clothes of this type, and authentic Eurotrash stores are expanding their North American presence: Zaras have started popping-up, and H&M, a Hipster-Eurotrash amalgam, is now tacking more to the Eurotrash side.

• • • • •

My point is not that the white pop cultural aesthetic is better, though I generally lean that way. And, using recent history as a gauge, the prominence of a white pop cultural aesthetic does little to foster white racial identity. I just think that (1) we are due for a white aesthetic revival and (2) it may as well be led by people interested in affecting an actual white revival.

Aesthetic taste is a judgement of what is attractive. Most people are “black,” but the people who matter, who guide the course of history, are “white.” We want to be attractive to the people who matter. How do we do this? I am not the person to penetrate that mystery. I think in words, not images. If you are interested in an aesthetic prescription for intellectual literature, I think I have something to offer, but as for the how and why of pop culture aesthetics, I am lost. There are certain aesthetic trends on the Alternative Right that I would like to see discontinued (lets save that for later), but any positive recommendations must come from elsewhere. Hopefully, the sketch I have provided will inspire someone in this direction.

Ultimately, the future success of our side depends on us developing an intellectual argument that flows from a compelling first principle. Cultural and political gains by other means are not sustainable without a philosophical core. Even the most masterful pop cultural aesthetics die within a generation. Still, like all ideological movements, our goal is to make the world more beautiful, and aesthetics, even the pop culture sort, must be part of that. And while most people are black, they want to be white.

Ryan Andrews is the author of The Birth of Prudence, a novel.


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