Monday, November 19th, 2012

Your Life Sucks: A Recent History of "The New Niceness"

• November 19, 2012: "New Yorkers once carried mace; now we sit at home in cardigans and pickle cabbage. Angry young men while away quiet hours playing Angry Birds."

• December 21, 2009: "In this new world of nice netiquette, technology is designed to make it easier for everyone to love one another. After all, if you're not your 'real self' online, how will Leighton Meester know it's you who loved her dress at the Teen Choice Awards?"

• February 24, 2010: "It’s not just Internet logrollers riding the wave of positivity. Conan O’Brien signed off from NBC saying, 'Please don’t be cynical. I hate cynicism—it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere.' Quite unlike aloof Madonna or spoiled Britney, pop star of the moment Lady Gaga is constantly professing what seems to be sincere, mature gratitude to her fans and creative partners on Twitter. Tom Hanks' wife, Rita Wilson, proclaimed nice 'the new black' in the March Harper’s Bazaar ('How often have you yawned in boredom when someone has told you about a nice person they know? What did nice do to deserve this treatment?')."

• November 17, 2012: "The ironic frame functions as a shield against criticism. The same goes for ironic living. Irony is the most self-defensive mode, as it allows a person to dodge responsibility for his or her choices, aesthetic and otherwise. To live ironically is to hide in public."

Now, three years into the New Niceness, it's pretty easy to make the point that you're all a bunch of complacent stupid assholes, enjoying your apps and your social networks and your urban gardens and homemade aioli, dithering your days away in a flurry of clicking idiotic thumbs-up buttons while financial institutions remake America and destroy the middle class, and rich people ruin even the things that are expressly for rich people, and meanwhile they are setting up the 2016 presidential slot for a man too stupid or too evil or too craven to publicly even take a stand on how old the world is.

Presumably there's a contrary point one could make but it's just not very apparent.

35 Comments / Post A Comment

lbf (#2,343)


Matt (#26)


Matt (#26)


NinetyNine (#98)

I would argue this is likely the most appropriate post ever to deploy a "so it's okay to make fun of ___________" callback, but I don't know if I can take being called a creepy weirdo on Thanksgiving Week.

jolie (#16)

Someone's got a case of the Mondays!

deepomega (#1,720)


brent_cox (#40)

Go fuck yourself, Brent.

saythatscool (#101)

@brent_cox My work here is done!
/throws down mic. Struts off stage in bright red leather coat and matching pants.

alorsenfants (#139)

Wait — New Yorkers don't need mace any more?!

Multiphasic (#411)

@alorsenfants Nope, still do—nothing else clears out the line at Prime Meats.

theheckle (#621)

RE: The GQ article. Who doesn't love hips? I don't mean attractive hips necessarily, I'm just asking about hips as a piece of musculoskeletal equipment.

You know that Canada invented this whole thing to destroy us from within, right?

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

Mr. Salmon has apparently never heard of the Medicis. I have always found art galleries to be the sleaziest of businesses. It is all about the scam and the tax dodge. Has been for ages.

The irony is that Salmon claims to be some sort of financial expert, but he misses the delicious irony of the very Jeff Koons work that he is bitching about. Koons' "Tulips" is the ultimate embodiment of the OCCUPY ethos.

Koons career has been resurrected in recent years by his neon "balloon dog" sculptures that have become a hit among the corporate art crowd. So what does he do next? Neon "Tulips" an obvious homage to the Dutch Tulip Bubble (the financial mania that crashed in 17th Century Holland) and it sells for unprecedented millions! Koons is both commenting on the current ridiculous art bubble while pocketing millions.

And that is about as punk rock as it gets. The fact that art expert/financial genius Salmon is so daft that he misses Koons' brilliant joke on his own collectors is sadly telling.

Multiphasic (#411)

@Lockheed Ventura At this point, the only problem self-awareness can solve is lack of self-awareness. I think it's clear at this point it doesn't help anyone feel any shame whatsoever.

So kudos to Koonsy for being punk rock. "EMI" was a punk rock song, but so was "Merchandise," and only one of those songs was delivered with the intention to change the thing being snarked about.

stuffisthings (#1,352)

@Multiphasic I think I finally admitted there was no hope left in this world when I realized I'm the only one in my circle of friends who has heard of/cares about Fugazi. (Oh: I live in fucking DC too.)

stuffisthings (#1,352)

@stuffisthings Speaking of which, I give it 3 years before 'Merchandise' is used in an Apple commercial.

Cooper (#5,827)

@Lockheed Ventura You're giving Koons way too much credit. Look up any of his statements on his art (the New Yorker piece from four or five years back has a bunch), and it's all a mishmash of "sacred heart of Jesus," "ephemeral nature," and "child-like wonder." He simultaneously claims that his work is meant to have no meaning, so there's that.

Also, he conceived of and made the tulips more or less contemporaneously with the balloon dogs, hanging hearts, etc. (the "Celebration" series), so it's not like it's some sort of secret meta-joke on the success of those pieces and the chumps who buy them. And for an "obvious homage," I've never seen another reference to Koons and the Dutch tulip crash.

Dude's a kitsch-monger, no doubt, and he's gotten masterful at marketing his work, but he's about as "punk rock" as Jim Davis. See also: his plan to ruin the High Line.

blergh (#177,628)

@stuffisthings I used to include the "This Is Not a Fugazi T-shirt" Fugazi t-shirt in my visual culture class. 300 blank faces on the 300 eager young freshpeep faces in the lecture hall. Might as well as been talking about Lawrence Welk.

stuffisthings (#1,352)

@blergh So I'm not going to get rich selling my "This is not an iPhone 5" iPhone covers on etsy?

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

@stuffisthings I think that a "This is Not a Lawrence Welk T-Shirt" would do well.

Leon (#6,596)

1-Both the age of irony & 'the new nice' are about NY'ers who care about fonts and textiles and what things are like on Ludlow Street. Pretty sure nobody was thinking about the guys who run the yellow-building tire shops in Maspeth or Little Fuzhou fishmongers when writing any of these trend pieces (or anytime, ever, really)

2-Age of Irony coincided w/ a triumph of the political / financial wills of this class (Rise of Internet Economy, Clinton-era etc) while NYC itself got safer.

3-Circa 2009, we all realized that dolphins are foul and terrible creatures, who teach their young to use tools, often attack each other, and will sometimes assault human beings.

4-Mass hysteria over the coming age of dolphin dominance of the planet forces us to abandon our jaded detachment, and enjoy the simple pleasures of life – oral sex performed by bearded men, the scent of bicycle gear grease, traditional joinery employed on 'found' or 'reclaimed' wood – as we know we are powerless, even with our opposable thumbs and nuclear warheads, to win the dolphin/human war.

5 (future) – eeeee eee eeeeeee click eeeeee *gurgle*

jfruh (#713)

@Leon Saint-Jean OMG greatest ever

deepomega (#1,720)

@jfruh I miss STC. :/

saythatscool (#101)

@deepomega That's sweet Mrs. Omega, but don't let deep catch you at his computer again.

deepomega (#1,720)

@saythatscool COME BACK TO ME MY SWEET

melis (#1,854)

@saythatscool OH MY GODDD

Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!

davidwatts (#72)

Re: that NYT anti-irony thing – I thought we all agreed that millenials were too sincere, with our/their work ethic and volunteering. Now we're too ironic again?

City_Dater (#2,500)


I thought the Youngs were being accused of borrowing irony from Generation X, like little brothers and sisters picking up our musical taste and stealing our clothes.

blergh (#177,628)

@City_Dater And now we're fucking taking it back. Or, you know, maybe contemplating if Doc Martens are an ill-advised choice for those of us born before the Carter administration:

joeks (#5,805)

…it's pretty easy to make the point that you're all a bunch of complacent stupid assholes… dithering your days away… while financial institutions remake America and destroy the middle class…

So, the world getting shittier isn't the fault of any of these institutions or the people within them, it's the fault of people pickling cabbage and playing Angry Birds. Who presumably, instead of pickling cabbage, should be out saving the streets from investment bankers. Stupid normal people, why are you stupidly enjoying your stupid normal lives instead of being valiant class warriors?!?

Or maybe that little crack was meant ironically.

On a related note, this weekend I made the "Crack Brownies" this site lists the recipe for. They were delicious, and my wife and I really enjoyed them. We didn't encounter any trading-desk managers or lobbyists.

jolie (#16)

@joeks Maybe there will be a day when I'm not delighted when someone discovers the crack brownie recipe but today is not that day. So glad you enjoyed them!

Mr. B (#10,093)

You'd better not be threatening to take away our up-thumbs, Chorie!

Ralph Haygood (#13,154)

Not that you're cynical or anything, Choire.

"too stupid or too evil or too craven": Note that these are definitely not mutually exclusive possibilities, especially where Republican politicos are concerned. Not that I'm cynical or anything…

Ham Snadwich (#11,842)

This bullshit again?

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