You know what I love? Comments. I love them! Thanks to comments, and thanks specifically to a comment by favorite person Snobographer (SNOBOGRAPHERRRRRR), I finally think I may have pinned down what bothers me about "ironic" racism and sexism and what have you. Here is what bothers me about "ironic" racism and sexism and what have you: it's just. So. Fucking. Bougie.
Yes, that's right! My crankiness about the young people has turned out to be, in fact, merely another example of my crankiness about the moral codes of the white middle class! Which makes sense, given that the hipster thing is, in and of itself, a pretty white, middle-class phenomenon. This was the entire point of Stuff White People Like, right? This is not a new point that I am making! But, to explain how it ties into hip racism and sexism, I invite you to go on a journey with me. A journey many of you may have taken before. A journey to your white, middle-class parents' house for Thanksgiving.
(Don't have white, middle-class parents? No worries! This is a journey of education.)
Okay, so the first thing that happens at your white, middle-class parents' house is that some gay dudes have moved in next door. Everyone is making a big show of how tolerant they are! But then, somebody - let's say your mom - leans over to you, and lowers her voice, and says something really, really fucktacular about The Gays. And you gasp, and you go, "Mother! That's not OK!" And she looks at you, all wounded and indignant, and says, "honey, I am not a homophobe."
Welcome to the bougie dynamic. Prejudices are thought of as nasty and tasteless and unrefined and bad, and of course all of us white middle-class people aspire to taste and refinement, and also to having a whole lot of smooth jazz CDs, and so we imagine that racism and sexism and homophobia and the like are only engaged in by dirty poor people, also known as White Trash. (See, also: white people being dismayed by black male sexism and homophobia.) This is another thing pointed out by lots of people, like Barbara Ehrenreich and such! At a certain point, the privilege and prejudice of the middle class got projected onto the working class, because it was an undesirable characteristic and we love attributing those to poor people. So, no, we middle-class folk are not prejudiced! We just, um, say prejudiced things a lot?
Now, join us, as we go on another journey: a journey out for drinks with some white, middle-class hipsters! They are also cultured; you can tell, because they don't have any smooth jazz CDs. They are also totally not like their parents, and they want you to realize and appreciate this very important fact. And yet, at some point, during the drinks, somebody says something really fucktacular about The Gays. It is puzzling to you, because he is not actually lowering his voice, as his parents and yours would do; he is raising his voice and smiling and is clearly very proud of this thing he has said. He seems to feel it is quite iconoclastic and bold, this thing about The Gays he is saying! And yet, if you call him out on it, he will look at you all wounded and indignant and say, "look, I am not a homophobe."
Forget it, Jake; it's Bougie-Town. VICE-esque racism and sexism, and the hipster "rebellion" from middle-class mores, consists only of raising one's voice rather than lowering it when behaving like a jackass. Because it's cool, right? We're all cool? Cool because we think of prejudice as problematic, not on moral grounds, but on grounds of taste - and have innoculated ourselves against charges of prejudice by making sure our tastes are appropriately classy. Cool because we think saying aloud what our parents would whisper qualifies as "rebellious," rather than "the same old shit cranked up to 11."
Oh, and also, if you really lay into your friend, he'll misuse the word "ironic" and tell you that you can't take a joke. Which is not so much a cool young person thing as a thing your grandpa does after he's had a couple and has started calling you a Commie, but whatever.
So, for the record, here is some irredeemably crass titillation, beloved only by those with a deplorable lack of education, refinement or taste:
Here is something that it is totally cool to jerk off to:
Here is a woman who only plays hollow, personality-free fantasy sex objects, and whom we must all deplore for that reason:
Here is a woman who only plays hollow, personality-free fantasy sex objects, and is your imaginary girlfriend:
Here is an ad that grosses you out with its overly obvious, porn-inflected sexuality and its choice to cast a living model as an inanimate object:
Here is an ad that is full of sexy fun times:
I trust you begin to see the problem. Bad news, though: to remedy this, we would actually have to adopt a system of aesthetics that values content over cultural positioning, and a system of rebellion that values resistance to power over nihilistic, self-indulgent acceptance of it. And that is just so out of style.