The 60s had the hippies and flower children, the 70s saw the punks take over for a brief period, the 80s somehow managed to have the new romantics and depressed Smiths enthusiasts with quiffs at about the same time, the 90s had grunge, plaid shirts, sporty chic and heroin chic in the same decade, and humanity lost all plot of aesthetics in the 2000s.
Something else took over in the 2000s, though, and it changed the landscape immeasurably and irrevocably. Behold the internet, the true medium of libertarian thought, bringing revolutionary ideas of equality to all, while elevating those with marginally better programming skills to the status of deities. Let’s hope the bloody virus has taken them down a peg or two, although I’m not too hopeful.
Subcultures that existed in real life suddenly became virtual. You’ll see meme edgelords complaining about Tumblr subcultures for being pretentious and lacking commitment to the cause. They’re partly correct, it takes no effort to reblog a post on Tumblr, and it wouldn’t be a terrible bother. I could even be completely anonymous while my alter ego as a “fairies are real” conspiracy theorist on Tumblr thrives. However, these grumps are just that, grumpy old sods so I highly recommend ignoring them and carrying on reblogging aesthetic subculture posts.
In recent months (the pandemic months), my Instagram explore page has been flooded by diet posts in tandem with body positivity posts, a lot of politically aware posts (BLM isn’t over, and if you think it is, you need to take steps to make sure that it isn’t), and the usual shelfies – the latter have all gone through a quarantine makeover. Opulence in purchasing multiple bottles of lotions and potions to achieve a divine glow seems a bit moot once no one is there to appreciate said glow. For all one can say about “I look good for myself”, most of us can’t be bothered to change out of oversized jumpers when left to our own devices. It’s only in the company of others that a lot of us put our best feet forward. So, what’s the value of a real-life aesthetic in a time deeply rooted in isolation?
If I seem a bit “ramble-y” and down, you can attribute it to me being stuck indoors since March 15 with not a soul to speak to. But when you can’t achieve an aesthetic in real-life, mostly because of how utterly wasteful and pointless it feels, then I advise you try finding photographs and books and shows and music and artwork that evoke the feeling of adhering to said aesthetic within you. It’s the best we’re getting any time soon.
Let’s hope I don’t snap completely before that.