Twee: The Gentle Revolution in Music, Books, Television, Fashion, and Film (Anglais) Broché – 3 juin 2014
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Présentation de l'éditeur
New York Times, Spin, and Vanity Fair contributor Marc Spitz explores the first great cultural movement since Hip Hop: an old-fashioned and yet highly modern aesthetic that’s embraced internationally by teens, twenty and thirty-somethings and even some Baby Boomers; creating hybrid generation known as Twee. Via exclusive interviews and years of research, Spitz traces Generation Twee’s roots from the Post War 50s to its dominance in popular culture today.
Vampire Weekend, Garden State, Miranda July, Belle and Sebastian, Wes Anderson, Mumblecore, McSweeney’s, Morrissey, beards, artisanal pickles, food trucks, crocheted owls on Etsy, ukuleles, kittens and Zooey Deschanel—all are examples of a cultural aesthetic of calculated precocity known as Twee.
In Twee, journalist and cultural observer Marc Spitz surveys the rising Twee movement in music, art, film, fashion, food and politics and examines the cross-pollinated generation that embodies it—from aging hipsters to nerd girls, indie snobs to idealistic industrialists. Spitz outlines the history of twee—the first strong, diverse, and wildly influential youth movement since Punk in the ’70s and Hip Hop in the ’80s—showing how awkward glamour and fierce independence has become part of the zeitgeist.
Focusing on its origins and hallmarks, he charts the rise of this trend from its forefathers like Disney, Salinger, Plath, Seuss, Sendak, Blume and Jonathan Richman to its underground roots in the post-punk United Kingdom, through the late’80s and early ’90s of K Records, Whit Stillman, Nirvana, Wes Anderson, Pitchfork, This American Life, and Belle and Sebastian, to the current (and sometimes polarizing) appeal of Girls, Arcade Fire, Rookie magazine, and hellogiggles.com.
Revealing a movement defined by passionate fandom, bespoke tastes, a rebellious lack of irony or swagger, the championing of the underdog, and the vanquishing of bullies, Spitz uncovers the secrets of modern youth culture: how Twee became pervasive, why it has so many haters and where, in a post-Portlandia world, can it go from here?
Quatrième de couverture
What is the most polarizing and important youth movement since Hip-Hop?
Artisanal chocolate. Mustaches. Locally sourced vegetables. Etsy. Birds.
Flea markets. Cult films. Horn-rimmed glasses.
What do all of these icons have in common? They are signifiers that author Marc Spitz groups as falling under the umbrella of Twee, a powerful, expansive youth movement that has colored popular culture in surprising ways.
In the same way that Douglas Coupland branded Generation X with his groundbreaking novel, Spitz gives name to a sensibility that prizes kindness over irony, encourages obsessive fandom and collection culture, supports a hunger for purity of craft, and, most important, strives for the preservation of the innocence of childhood. As a result, Twee is divisive, and Spitz shows that there is a tribe of people who fiercely self-identify while others simply cringe.
Twee features exclusive interviews plus in-depth research on Twee touchstones past and present, including Walt Disney, James Dean, J. D. Salinger, Sylvia Plath, Dr. Seuss, Truman Capote, Maurice Sendak, Edward Gorey, Jean Seberg, the Kinks, Judy Blume, Nick Drake, Jonathan Richman, Beat Happening, the Smiths, They Might Be Giants, Nirvana, Belle and Sebastian, Wes Anderson, Pitchfork, This American Life, McSweeney's, mumblecore, Vampire Weekend, Sufjan Stevens, Miranda July, Tavi Gevinson, Lena Dunham, Portlandia, and Zooey Deschanel.
Expansive, engaging, and festooned with more than enough kittens, this is the first definitive history of Twee.
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I would have liked to see a little bit more departure from the narrative arc, to flesh out the concept of "Twee" a little bit more; how does it intersect with the concepts of indie and hipster? Are they synonymous? Does one concept encompass the others? Spitz also sometimes departs into heavy-handed social commentary, deriding Twee and its icons for being too explicitly white, upper-middle class. The ending of the book, however, praises Twee and, in a sort of guilty way, claims that it is the way of the future. One can tell that Spitz is a bit conflicted, but it would have been nice to see him flesh these ideas out more instead of just sticking to the narrative arc.
All in all, it's a very interesting read, especially for those who will get some of the pop-cultural references (and if you were aware of pop culture at any point since the '50s, you'll get some of them). If you are like me, it may also cause you to do some self-reflection and realize, "I think I might be Twee!" Definitely buy and read this book if you are interested in any aspect of pop-culture at all or in what your connection to broader culture is; it's fairly short, well-written, and above all, a fun read.
"Twee" helps. While I don't necessarity buy into the idea that all the elements presented are part of some overarching movement, I think the author is indeed onto something. However, there is just not enough connective tissue linking all of the subjects together. While the presentation of various trends was interesting and informative, the thesis of the book, that "twee" is a real movement linking all these things together, remains nebulous.
So, while I am not convinced that "twee" is anything more than a cultural vein that has always existed -- the "esthete" -- I appreciate the long seciton of the book discussing current interests. Actors, artists, bands, authors -- I am alwaya interested in learning about things that become part of the zeitgeist.
BTW, The Kinks, in my opinion, get way too little ink. Their albums albums "Face to Face," "Something Else" and "The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society" deserve particular mention. In any historical discussion of "twee," these are central pillars.
In any case, I feel I have a bit more perspective on the younger generation's tastes and views.
My one peeve, though, is that the book doesn't go far enough in time in search of Twee roots. "Ferdinand the Bull" is a great place to start, but a late one. The Romantic period with its "Sorrows of Young Werther" and the Victorian era with its celebration of childhood as a distinct life phase, its proliferation of facial hair, its "put a bird on it" cluttered aesthetic, and its commercialization of old-timey music deserved a whole chapter, I think. Second edition, perhaps?
There are other omissions: in the 20th century, Winnie The Pooh (1926) is only mentioned once. Joseph Cornell's (the ultimate outsider artist) collages and boxes are less well known, but probably as influential as Gorey's art.
In any case, I'm grateful for "Twee's" release, a work on the subject was long overdue. Hopefully, others will follow.
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