Death of Subcultures

3rd of August, 2022

Pursuit of personal progress without utilising hindsight is a fool’s errand. There must be certain checkpoints achieved in life that we can look back on and laugh at the cringe, at the emo bangs and tiger highlight hair pattern. What was the purpose of all those belts again? Lack of identity phases translates directly into character stagnation.

Many of us had the privilege to fulfil the need of belonging to a certain group. It was mostly based on the type of music one would listen, and be practically assigned to other people of the same taste - metalheads hung out with metalheads, punks with other punks, and so on. Occasionally, convergences happened around activities, such as skateboarding, or underage consumption of alcohol, so the rappers became good friends with the grungies for a few hours, and once the activity was done, so was the friendship.

Interpersonal relationships within the chosen group were the entire social life of a teenager or a young adult, and the bond was actually pretty tight considering the age. No one thought about it at the time, of course, but many personalities were shaped and moulded during that little era, and the music taste was cemented forever as nostalgia. For the record, I was the weird Nirvana kid.

What happened?

Why are there no young adults outwardly expressing their group belonging? Everyone looks the same nowadays. Same side-faded haircuts, same cheap fast-fashion clothing, same gigantic white sneakers, same crop tops and graphic T-shirts. Sometimes it feels like time, or space, shifted, and that culture went backwards into USSR or Yugoslavia with only a few available clothing options produced by those countries, or current North Korea, where everyone walks around with government-approved haircuts and monochrome clothes. With all the possibilities of standing out from the crowd in appearance and being truly unique, one would think people would opt in and welcome broader customisation options.

Yet, it all withered. On one hand, there’s one low-hanging fruit to blame, and that is social media. When social life is transferred, uploaded and pixelated, there isn't any real need to cultivate it in real life. Does it matter what someone wears if they have hundreds of thousands of followers? Partly, it does seem to be the case. Not the choice of clothing, but effort put into the real environment around us. The youth has never been as depressed, medicated, and sadly suicidal, as they are today. Young adults are lonely, with an empty heart, and left longing, questioning the purpose of their lives while bombarding their synapses with porn and other means of instant gratification, and all that harm done was in search of a true, genuine connection with another human. Social media can easily become a brain plague, a mind parasite, for a developing person, but that is a topic for another time.

On the other hand, it could the chicken and the egg situation, though, with the quiet fizzle of diverse music genres, so did the subcultures kneel in defeat, giving rise to this one all-encompassing unified youth Culture, where everyone fits in with everyone and there is no Others. It is quite ironic to think about, considering that, in an attempt to have any young person feel included, everyone seems to be left feeling excluded and alienated from one another. Equally miserable.

It might be that I'm yet another Millennial who doesn't understand the Zoomer culture, just another "old person" shouting at the kids with a raised fist. I will be the first to admit that hearing about 3rd Secret, a band dubbed "Grunge Supergroup" consisting of members from legendary Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, the hope in my heart grew exponentially. They released a surprise album in April 2022, and the hype was real. Until I listened to them.

The sterile sound wearing white gloves was, to put it politely, underwhelming. That was no grunge. That was nothing anywhere near grunge. It was stripped of all that would have made it grunge. Polished like a new car, presented with a shiny bow on top, it is hard to shake the feeling that they produced music fitting for the newer generations, a pitfall many companies walk right into as their noses are up in the air, sniffing for money. My disappointment was immeasurable, and my whole week was ruined.

After a long time dealing with these oddly intense emotions, I've come up with a proposal. Someone with more musical sense than me should form a band and define a new genre - neo-grunge. A true to the letter neo-grunge. Record it in your basement, let your voice break, ring those guitar riffs. Not for my sake, but for the sake of the younglings. They are all in desperate need of scruffy, raw, bass boosted music with depressing lyrics in order to process themselves. No wonder all those Anime AMVs are extremely popular. The West literally has to import edginess and cringe from Japan. How low has it fallen.

As a final note to fellow Millennials, we should not shyly listen to Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slipknot and Rage Against the Machine. Stop hiding it from your friends, or from yourself. Rock that band shirt that's been collecting dust in the parents' closets. It will do us good. It will heal our souls.

Embrace the cringe.

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Twitter @Morrowheart