Audioccult Vol. 96: Normcore: The Dead End of Western Civilization

Words by Daniel Jones

Light a candle. Draw the required sigils. Now, raise your arms above your head and slowly, gently, exhale your soul. You won’t need it here. This is Audioccult, and it’s time to get low. Illustration: BlackBlackGold

 

Oh man, there’s nothing I like better than to slip into a striped collared shirt with those three weird neck buttons and a pair of cargo pants that, with the flick of a zipper, quickly transform into cargo shorts to help beat the heat. Put these bad boys on and you’ll never feel hot at all, actually. James Hetfield leans in close and whispers, “You know it’s sad but true,”—looking normal is boring as shit.

This is not to say that everyone needs to dress up all the damn time according to what the Sorting Hat says is appropriate for your musical or subcultural preference; after all, subcultures died in 1990 and since then we’ve all been playing a fun sort of socialized dress-up. But normcore, a recurring meme that encourages artistically-inclined people to actively appear as bland as possible and which has been spreading across the Internet like a khaki-colored plague since late last year, is simply the worst. A blatant attempt by Post-Illuminati Twitter to snuff out visual identity, it’s somehow managed to gain traction with forward-thinking publications and tastemakers. From Ton Petit Look:

“Normcore is about embracing the generic commercial clothing that is bland and most importantly blank. Essentially creating a blank canvas, in a way. A washed out identity that doesn’t stand out in the crowd.”

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a Croc stamping on a human face—forever. Normcore is beginning to become such a prevalent term that there’s already a Chrome extension to block it from your social feeds. Is Obama so normcore that his jeans are simply denim tubes to put his legs and p-POTUS into? Flip-flops on dull prez l@@ks parallels unsure stance on important issues (white shirt or off-white shirt? damn this job is hard) as ringtones across the planet adjust to the same generic low-quality trap beat all at once. Oh my god, 2011 is calling, ratchet, ratchet! These hi-hats feel so good in my ears, and this Gap hat feels so good on my head. Fall into it, twerk that ass and don’t think about what you’re going to wear today. Miley Cyrus, Miley Cyrus, Miley Miley Miley.

Anyone paying attention has noticed that the lines between between mainstream and underground culture have continuously dissolved over the last decade. I’ve been an active proponent of this, in fact; there’s nothing more grating than trying to find people who you can connect with, only to be faced with scene elitism and ideological stagnation. Unfortunately, this also means that it’s become even harder to connect—that person you see on the street dressed like you might have absolutely nothing in common with your interests outside of a shared aesthetic. That’s also boring, and it kind of shits on the struggle that so many young kids trying to find their place in the world went through. The dudes who would have kicked my ass in school for the way I looked are now throwing on the same kind of stuff because they saw it on Tumblr or whatever. It’s a complicated situation which doesn’t really have any answers. No fate but what you make, so you might as well remix the Terminator theme with some trill trap beats, the cheapest ones you can find on Amazon where you can also buy How I Met Your Mother keychains to complete your normcore look. I keep mine in the little pocket in the front of my absolute nothing of a shirt, which I call ‘Comfy Plainy’.

“Hey, don’t worry about it, man,” you might say. “This sort of thing tends to dissipate pretty quickly, and it will only ever be popular with the kind of people who are perpetually hopping on and off the goofiest sort of bullshit anyway.” That’s a fair point. “You shouldn’t base your identity entirely around the clothes you wear,” hmm, well that’s also true. “Holy shit why are you even talking about this dumb garbage when the world is basically eating itself alive.” Well, this isn’t CNN and I sincerely hope you’re paying attention to actual important events—the reporting of which is not my function or forte. Sorry; true.

What makes the idea of normcore so repulsive in my eyes (and what makes it an issue for myself) is the fact that the kind of people who actively engage with it as an ideology are the same people who should be spurning it in the first place; the people who were called ‘homo’ or ‘freak’ in school, the artists, musicians and outsiders who are now being told via forced memery, “Blend in. Look like everyone else. It’s social art. It’s cutting edge.” No homo, just plenty of homogeny.

Dress however the hell you want, but don’t treat visual conformity like it’s art.~

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