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A new study in the US has found a positive correlation between the number of big-box retail stores in an area and the number of hate groups in that area; the study used Wal-Mart as a proxy for big-box retailers:
The amount of Wal-Mart stores in a county was more statistically significant than other factors commonly regarded as important to hate group participation, such as the unemployment rate, high crime rates and low education, the research found.
"Wal-Mart has clearly done good things in these communities, especially in terms of lowering prices," said Stephan Goetz, a Penn State University professor who also serves as the director of the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development. "But there may be indirect costs that are not as obvious as other effects."It is speculated that the correlation may be due to the fraying of the social ties that exist in areas with smaller, less impersonal, shops. Whether Wal-Mart's owners' politics (generally well on the right of the Republican party) have anything to do with the correlation is unclear.
A 1992 essay by Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys about the positive value of hatred:
That’s the thing about negative energy, about hatred. It can be positive. It throws into relief all the things you know you like. It tells you, by elimination, what you’re about. Sometimes you can only define yourself by what you hate. Hatred becomes an inspiration; it makes you think, “What I’m doing now I totally believe in, and I don’t care what other people say.” Guided by hatred, you don’t have to follow the herd.
Of course, these days it’s more fashionable to be positive. I hate positivity. The problem with positivity is that it’s an attitude that’s decidedly about lying back, getting screwed, and accepting it. Happily. It’s totally apolitical. It’s very, very personal and one-on-one. It’s not about changing society, it’s about caring about yourself. In fact, it’s totally about ignoring one’s economic role in society, and so it works in favor of the system. Just look at work years of personal consciousness theories have given us: those icons of the status quo, George Bush and John Major.While this essay was written in 1992, when the World-Wide Web was confined to a particle physics institute in Switzerland, it is arguably more relevant than ever in today's relentlessly (and profitably) boosteristic online culture of Like buttons, Tumblr blogs, Pinterest and an online culture of comment whose language is lopsidedly positive, and much poorer in expressing hate, dislike or even a neutral interest without approval.
Positivity is fundamentally middle-class. It’s about having the time, the space and the money to sort out where your head is at. Therapy is just another side of positivity. It’s a leisure activity, a luxury for people who don’t have any real cares. It’s new age selfishness, the new way of saying that charity begins at home. And positivity makes the world stay the same. Hatred is the force that moves society along, for better or for worse. People aren’t driven by saying, “Oh wow, I’m at peace with myself.” They’re driven by their hatred of injustice, hatred of unfairness, of how power is used.Tennant doesn't spare the pop music of his peers at the time:
Another thing I hate, and another inspiration for what the Pet Shop Boys do, is the way people misunderstand pop culture. It annoys me that after more than twenty-five years, Top of the Pops, Britain’s most important pop-music TV program, changed the rules so that you have to sing live. Why? Because the people in control are the kind of conservatives who think that in the ‘60s, everything was much more talented than they are now. It’s all about Rolling Stone rock culture, which is essentially a fear of the new. Rolling Stone’s idea of a musician is Jerry Garcia, from the 60s. Look at all the ‘new’ artists – Curtis Stigers, Michael Bolton, Lenny Kravitz – all of them living in the past. I think you have to live in the future. Or at least in the present.One could argue that some progress has been made; that, while today's popular-music practitioners are expected to have at least the equivalent of a Master's degree in pop-music history, and to be able to produce an extensively footnoted mix CD of influences to lend support to their works, they are freer to mix and match influences from the past half-century or so of the pop canon, rather than slavishly retreading one particular epoch of rockist purity. Though that's possibly due to the rise of YouTube and Wikipedia, something that the backward-looking rockers of the early 1990s didn't have.
Mark Dery critically examines at the relentlessly upbeat politics of enthusiasm in the age of the Tumblr blog and the Like button:
At its brainiest, this sensibility expresses itself in the group blog Boing Boing, a self-described “directory of wonderful things.” Tellingly, the trope “just look at this!,” a transport of rapture at the wonderfulness of whatever it is, has become a refrain on the site, as in: ”Just look at this awesome underwear made from banana fibers. Just look at it.” Or: “Just look at this awesome steampunk bananagun. Just look at it.” Or: “Just look at this bad-ass volcano.” Or: “Just look at this illustration of an ancient carnivorous whale.” Because that’s what the curators of wunderkammern do—draw back the curtain, like Charles Willson Peale in “The Artist in His Museum,” exposing a world of “wonderful things,” natural (bad-ass volcanoes, carnivorous whales) and unnatural (steampunk bananaguns, banana-fiber underwear), calculated to make us marvel.Of course, there is a downside to this relentless boosterism: the positive becomes the norm (how many things can you "favourite"?); meanwhile, critical thought becomes delegitimised. When everybody's building shrines to their likes, any expression of negativity is an attack on someone's personal taste, making one a "hater" (a term originally from hip-hop culture which, tellingly, gained mainstream currency in the past decade). From this relentlessly upbeat point of view, critics are no more legitimate than griefers, the players in multi-player games who destroy others' achievements motivated by sadism:
At their wound-licking, hater-hatin’ worst, the politics of enthusiasm bespeak the intellectual flaccidity of a victim culture that sees even reasoned critiques as a mean-spirited assault on the believer, rather than an intellectual challenge to his beliefs. Journal writer Christopher John Farley is worth quoting again: dodging the argument by smearing the critic, the term “hater” tars “all criticism—no matter the merits—as the product of hateful minds.” No matter the merits.The culture of enthusiasm, and the culture of disenthusiasm (which Dery mentions), seems to be founded on the assumption that we are defined by the things we like and dislike. It's a form of commodity fetishism taken into the cultural sphere, though one step removed from the accumulation of material goods, rather dealing with approval and disapproval. Not surprisingly, it's often associated with youth subcultures; take, for example, punks' leather jackets; the names which appear on the back, and those omitted for obviousness or inauthenticity, signal their wearers' authenticity and legitimacy in the culture. (Hipsters take it further, into the realm of irony, where one's status is measured by how close one can surf to the void of kitsch; being into, say, Hall & Oates or M.C. Hammer, is worth more than safe choices like Joy Division and the Velvet Underground, which are so obvious a part of every civilised person's background that trumpeting one's enthusiasm for them is immediately suspect.)
However, likes and dislikes, when worn as badges of identity, can become mere totemism. Do you like, say, The Strokes or Barack Obama, because you find them interesting, or because you wish to be identified as the kind of person who does? Or, as A Softer World put it:
Cultural products (a term which encompasses everything from pop stars to public intellectuals, from comic books to politicians) can fulil two functions: they can be valued for their content or function (does this band rock? Is this book interesting?), or for their function as establishing the consumer's identity. Much like vinyl record sleeves framed on trendy apartment walls by people who don't own turntables to project an aura of cool, favourite books or movies or bands or public figures can be trotted out to buttress one's public image, without ever being fully digested. (Witness, for example, the outspokenly religious American "Conservatives" who idolise Ayn Rand, a strident atheist who expressed a Nietzschean contempt for religion.) Likes and dislike, in other words, are like flags, saluted or burned often out of habit or social obligation as much as any intrinsic value they may hold.
At the end, Dery points out that, far more interesting and telling than what we like or dislike are the things we both like and dislike, or else find fascinating; things which compel us with a mixture of fascination and repulsion, in whatever quantities, rather than neatly falling into one side or the other of the love/hate binary.
Freed from the confining binary of loving versus loathing, Facebook Like-ing versus hateration, we can imagine an index of obsessions, an inventory of intrigues that more accurately traces the chalk outline of who we truly are.
Imagine a more anarchic politics of enthusiasm, poetically embodied in a simulacrum of the self that preserves our repulsive attractions and attractive repulsions, reducing us not to our Favorites, nor even to our likes and dislikes, but to our obscure obsessions, our recurrent themes, the passing fixations that briefly grip us, then are gone—not our favorite things, but the things that Favorite us, whether we like it, or even know it, or not.
The Portland (that's Portland, Oregon, btw) Mercury's Chas Bowie looks at the amount of vitriol focussed at "hipsters":
The truth is, it's all too easy to conjure a mental image of what people mean when they use the word "hipster" derisively. We likely imagine someone overly concerned with fashion, possessive of a condescendingly dismissive attitude toward everything outside their insular realm, a sheep-like trend follower, and an infuriatingly non-individualized personality who likes whatever band Pitchfork tells them to and whose shoes cost more than a day's wages. When I think of the worst end of the hipster sliding scale, my mind goes straight to the too-cool-for-me guy at my video store, who's always too involved in watching the collected music videos of Hall & Oates on the overhead TV to make eye contact while I rent my movie. He's always wearing lame ironic T-shirts, and his attitude reeks of smug... hipsterness. There's no other word for it. And if I perceived the city to be overrun with hipsters like him, I'd be an angry, I, Anonymous-writing citizen, too.
But the truth is, what rubs me the wrong way about this guy has nothing to do with his relative level of hipsterdom. The fact is, the guy is a self-absorbed narcissist who's overly vain about his wardrobe and hairstyle, and is generally unfriendly. As evidenced by sororities, law firms, sports teams, country clubs, sewing circles, and virtually every other social group the world over, this is by no means an exclusively hipster phenomenon. The fact remains that every demographic is composed of roughly 10 percent assholes. BuddhistsBowie then looks at the "hipster" stereotype (or rather, the "hipster" stereotype minus the "narcissistic asshole" stereotype), as described in a book titled The Hipster Handbook, which suggests that a hipster (in the US, at least) is someone who studied liberal arts, does not vote Republican, and has eclectic tastes in music:
By and large, the term "hipster" is used to point to somebody who enjoys art, good films, and music that you won't hear on most Clear Channel stations. They are generally uninterested in climbing corporate ladders and would instead rather work somewhere that allowed them the freedom to pursue creative endeavors, like their band/crafts/activism/MP3 blog/whatever. They're probably down with recreational drug use, prefer bikes to cars (at least ideologically) and have more interesting homes than decidedly suburban non-hipsters. As it stands right now, we have no term to designate this group of individuals, except for the word "hipster."If I ask somebody what a bar is like, and they tell me it's a hipster bar, instead of recoiling, I figure there will be good music, as well as a lot of people who share my interests. I won't expect it to be full of BMW-driving fatcats with McMansions in the West Hills, or guys who want to chug beers and yell at the football game on TV. If I'm crashing on a friend-of-a-friend's couch out of town, and I'm told in advance that my host is a hipster, I'll breathe a sigh of relief that they'll probably have a good record collection, a lot of books, and a healthy hatred for George W. Bush. If it turns out he has a serious attitude problem and acts like he's the king of Williamsburg, then the problem isn't that he's a hipster, but simply that he's another generic fuckface.He comes to the conclusion that, while the term "hipster" has been bandied about and abused so much that the only thing that any two people labelled as "hipsters" have in common is "a general distaste for mainstream popular culture" (well, that and a hatred for George W. Bush, though that's more or less moot nowadays). By which token, hating on hipsters looks more like the atavistic herd mentality of bullies, the tendency to reflexively strike out and attack difference, on the gut feeling that difference threatens group cohesion or "values".
Bowie then signs off with:
I'm sure this essay will prompt plenty of emails calling me a hipster (or the charming variation "hipster fag"). So preemptively, I say to you finger-pointers: "Sure, I'm a hipster. Call me that all you want. In the meantime, enjoy your Olive Garden, your Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, the Tim McGraw and Faith Hill show coming at the Rose Quarter, the Da Vinci Code, Rachael Ray, bloomin' onions, your middle management job that you'll probably die with, the new Rod Stewart box set, and Renée Zellweger's upcoming movie with Hugh Grant. I'll be back here in the middle of the city with my hipster friends talking about art and books, going to see live bands, searching for new experiences, and drinking better coffee than you. Signed, Your Hipster Friend, Chas Bowie".
Some music that I've heard more of recently than I would have liked:
There's bad news for the Westboro Baptist Church, a religious organisation whose central principle appears to be hatred of homosexuals and of anybody who doesn't hate them; they've been hit with a US$10.9m fine for picketing the funerals of soldiers (on the grounds that their deaths are divine punishment for America being too corrupt to put homosexuals to death).
Albert Snyder's attorney, Craig Trebilcock, had urged jurors to agree an amount "that says 'Don't do this' in Maryland again. Do not bring your circus of hate to Maryland again".
Defence attorney Jonathan Katz's argument that the $2.9m in compensatory damages already far exceeded the defendants' net worth and would be enough to "bankrupt them and financially destroy them" was ignored.Couldn't happen to a nicer guy...
A family in the Northern English city of Newcastle claim that they have been forced to move home twice afrer being violently persecuted for their red hair. WTF? That's insane.
What is the 90s? What does it represent? What was its zeitgeist? This is the tricky part. See, hipsters in the 90s thought that they'd figured out a way to position themselves as the first generation ever which wouldn't, in retrospect, look as ridiculous as previous generations. They thought they'd secure their place by ironically fixating on 70s retro (thus sparing themselves from having to create too much of their own destined-to-be-dated material) as well as adapting the language of a hyper-conscious, self-aware man-outside-of-his-time, narrated as glibly as possible, as a way of ironically distancing themselves from their own stances.The list itself starts off with "Authenticity" (and also takes in "Smog" and "Wobbly Camera As Authentic/Gritty Device") and ends with "Bare Midriffs", and includes the likes of "Generation X", "The Greatest Generation", "Grrls" (not to mention "Straight Edge", "Reclaiming The Night" and "Reclaiming Our Bodies/Empowerment"), several variants on "Aggrieved White Males", "Madonna-ology", "lower case spelling", "Wiggers", "Nerd Chic", "Misogyny Chic" and "Blue Collar Chic":
33. The End of Heroin Chic
The Shame: One of the few genuinely intelligent, smart trends in the mid-90s was the belated recognition that heroin is a good drug, overturning decades of hippie oppression and prejudice. We have Kurt Cobain and Trainspotting, a movie whose mediocrity is less important than the positive message it sent, to thank for that. Sadly, some people - we won't mention any RIVER PHOENIX names here, but a few LAYNE STANLEY guys couldn't handle CHRIS FARLEY their shit, making it tough for the rest of us, while other KATE MOSS people, again names THE EXILE we won't mention, functioned RUSH LIMBAUGH just fine while floating on the great poppy. Sadly, a combination of weak-willed celebrities, Ben Stiller's Permanent Midnight and 9/11 ended this brief dawn of reason. Now we are back in the Dark Ages of cocaine chic. Frankly, we'd rather drink beer than do coke.
The Sham:In the ultra-segmented scene of the 90s, being fat, ugly and socially retarded wasn't an impediment to being hip. You just had to wear lots of layers of black gauze to hide the blubber, get some prominent piercings and paint spider webs on your eyelids and, voila! You were a scary, alienated Goth! A whole bevy of bands competed for your attention, including Pretty Hate Machine, NIN, and Marilyn Manson, and the evening news might even do a segment featuring people who look just like you and the decline of American values or the dangers of Columbine - even though Klebold and Harris hated Goths.
63. Being Gay
The Sham:In college, most American girls of the 90's went through their obligatory BUG (bisexual until graduation) phase, which segued for more daring ones into their stripper phase. Gays became so big that even one of the Friends' star's mother had a lesbo tryst, and everyone had to have a gay neighbor to spice up their lives. Clinton made promoting gays in the military his first priority - and his liberal agenda was essentially destroyed by that. No matter, gays went bourgeois anyway, they didn't really need most of the liberal stuff anymore, not the help-the-poor/minorities crap anyway. Then 9/11 happened. A source who lives in Noe Valley told the eXile that within a year of 9/11, Noe Valley was transformed from the Dyke Quarter of San Francisco to the Baby Stroller Capital. Who'd-a-thunk.
73. Missing Children
The Sham:According to the National Center for Exploited and Missing Children, guess how many are "long-term" kidnapped by strangers every year? 20,000? 10,000? It's gotta be a lot, considering all the alarmist attention it gets. Welp, we got news for you: only 115 children are kidnapped in America each year, out of a population of 300,000,000. And about 100 children are kidnapped and murdered each year. In other words, NO ONE WANTS TO SOCKET-FUCK YOUR HAIRLESS CHILD'S STRANGLED CORPSE. Does that disappoint you? Statistically, your child has an infinitely higher chance of growing up to be a convicted sex offender than he does of getting kidnapped and killed by one. But you don't want to believe that your child, or you, are doomed to a life of never being stalked. So instead you'll pamper and protect your child and instill him with so many worries and complexes that when he grows up, he'll have this weird, tingly feeling every time he sees a vulnerable, hairless child left alone beside a car wash...
The Sham:Back before Live Journal gave every bored office worker in America a soap box, zines were the only outlet for folks who wanted to write something that nobody but friends would ever read. Made by Kinko workers working the graveyard shift and distributed to the local revolutionary bookshop, they were hailed as authentic samizdat. Except that there was a market for samizdat, and risk involved. Zines were just another way to convince grrls that you were authentic, so you could bang 'em.
89. Blue collar chic
The Sham:Middle class guys picking up garage mechanic uniforms with cursive names sewn into the breast pocket at the local thrift store and slumming it. Then, while downing cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon for a buck a pop at the local hipster dive, peopled with other indy hipsters wearing Confederate hats or T-shirts and scraggly beards, they'd talk about this art instillation they've got planned for their studio in Williamsburg.
90. Bare Midriffs
The Sham:Will someone please tell American girls to cover their lower hips? In the last 10 years, girls' hips have grown wider and wider, expanding like in some bad 80s horror film...and yet, for some reason they have no shame in showing these wide loads to the whole fucking world. All we can assume is that no one has the courage to tell them how bad they look. We're the types who, if we had a booger hanging out of our nose while talking to you, we'd want you to tell us. So we're doing the right thing and telling you: hide your hips, and while you're at it, tie a sweater around your ass. Note: This does not apply to Russian girls AT ALL.
As expected, America's religiots are making hay of Hurricane Katrina. A "pro-life" group claims that the hurricane is God's wrath on America for allowing abortion, taking as their proof the fact that the hurricane looked vaguely foetus-like in some satellite images. And an evangelical Christian group is claiming that God sent the hurricane to stop a gay festival due to take place in New Orleans. Meanwhile, holy man Rev. Fred Phelps has his predictable hate-on over recent events; you can almost feel the spittle flying from the screen as he calls the faithful to pray for more dead bodies floating on the santorum-rancid waters of New Orleans, not to mention for US soldiers to be killed in Iraq because America is an "evil fag nation".
Soon, I imagine, statements will appear on at least two Islamist websites from hitherto-unknown al-Qaeda franchises claiming responsibility for this daring strike into the very heart of the Zionist-Crusader Infidel.
Several matrices describing what different European tribes think of each other; taken from this vaguely cocaine-tinged piece from eXile (which is sort of like a Moscow-based VICE).
And then there's How To Find A Man In Europe And Leave Him There, an American girl's guide to European men, loaded with facile stereotypes (not least of all being that of its intended target audience).
Focus groups at advance screenings of Gigli, a new gangster-themed Hollywood Romantic Comedy have demanded a new ending, in which both Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez die "in as brutal a manner as possible". Sounds good to me...
"The danger here is succumbing to what people in the business call 'option paralysis'--being caught with so many good ideas that you're not sure which one to use," Brest said. "Getting shot is fine, but what about an automobile fire in which Ben and Jennifer are shown perishing in a slow-motion montage, their newfound love discarded as they try desperately to claw their way past each other's melting bodies, while slowly roasting to death in their own fat? You'd be surprised at how many people came up with that one. Or having them crawl through a field of broken glass while a safely booted and gloved Christopher Walken casually advances on them with a spray bottle of acid and a pair of bolt-cutters? I must say, a part of me loves the idea of them chewing each other to death during a 14-minute dolly shot."
Who says different people can't live in harmony? In a heartwarming display of what is possible, Neo-Nazis and Jewish extremists have put their differences aside, teaming up to produce anti-Arab hate sites. Perhaps that's the secret to reconciliation and peaceful coexistence: finding someone both parties despise even more. (via The Fix)
A Canadian court has ruled that parts of the bible are hate literature; specifically, the parts of Leviticus that mandate the putting to death of homosexuals and adulterers. The court upheld a ruling by a human rights tribunal which fined a man for putting an ad in a newspaper quoting Bible verses denouncing homosexuality. It's refreshing to see authorities who aren't blinded from such things by a belief that religion is the basis of all morality, civilisation and common human decency, and a spot of xenophobic hatred here and there is a small price to pay for fending off the chaos, nihilism and lawlessness that would follow mass godlessness. (via rotten.com)
Canadian American woman was feeding her baby when she noticed
subliminal messages coming from a toy on the infant's crib.
The Wal-Mart toy, which makes soothing sounds and music to fall asleep to, was also saying "I hate you", in a very quiet, childlike voice.
The toys have since been removed from stores; where the message came from remains unknown.
(via New World Disorder)
Life imitates Douglas Adams: A NY Times piece arguing that global communication has sown conflict and enmity, rather than the new era of understanding it was supposed to usher in.
But at this halfway point between mutual ignorance and true understanding, the ''global village'' actually resembles a real one -- in my experience, not the utopian community promised by the boosters of globalization but a parochial place of manifold suspicions, rumors, resentments and half-truths.
More on high-school slang post-9/11, from a rather sarcastic website in Russia; also from them, 911 things to hate about America, from foreign policy to "Hot, blonde Mormon girls refuse to put out". I suspect this guy has a bee in his bonnet.. (via The Fix) "
The Church of Euthanasia (which is like a cross between VHEMT, the Church of the SubGenius and something Jim Goad or someone could have come up with) has a new video out. Titled I Like To Watch, it splices footage of the WTC attack with pornography and sports coverage, over an electronic soundtrack, all to make a statement:
"I found it very beautiful." He continues: "I don't believe that I'm the only person in the world who derived sexual gratification from watching two of America's tallest buildings destroyed, but I do believe that I'm one of the few people with the courage to admit this in public. As an artist, I have an obligation to capture my feelings as accurately as possible. What I'm feeling may make me a monster, but I don't believe I'm alone in being a monster."
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