Things that make me want to walk into the sea…

There’s a piece at Vox called “Why so much Obama-era pop culture feels so cringe now.” To the extent that the thesis is accurate (and for the purpose of discussion I stipulate it is among the author’s cohort), I think I know the answer to that question: It’s because a decade has passed.

But according to the article, the shiver of cringe signifies much more than the passage of time; the author claims millennials acquired a collective distaste for former pop culture favorites like “Hamilton,” “Harry Potter” and “Parks and Rec” because the Obamas, Clintons and (fictional) Knopes failed us:

Hillary lost the election to Donald Trump. She and her hard work and her commitment to navigating the constraints of the system and her politics of representation did not save us. In response, the culture has turned on her. In America’s popular imagination, she’s become a symbol of all the worst impulses of the Democratic Party establishment: both a neolib and a neocon. So the art to which Hillary was continually compared throughout the 2016 election is reviled now, too.

Hamilton is understood to use its color-conscious casting to “whitewash” the slave-owning founding fathers. Harry Potter, fans note to each other significantly, “was a trust fund jock who became a cop and married his high school sweetheart,” and moreover his author is transphobic. Parks and Recreation is a symbol of the failure of liberalism in the face of Donald Trump.

“That’s what Parks and Rec did for most of its run, assuaging the anxieties of managerial-class liberals by telling them everything would be okay if we trusted the grownups — the Obamas, the Clintons, the Knopes — to look out for us,” wrote Timothy Shenk for Dissent in 2019.

Walk into the sea? Maybe I’ll just fucking jog to Atlantis instead.

Furthermore, the author claims the waning popularity of “Ted Lasso” means Biden better get his shit together double-quick:

As both the backlash toward Ted Lasso’s second season and Biden’s plummeting approval ratings both demonstrate, our patience with this [Biden-like folksy, avuncular] archetype is not infinite. Still, right now, Ted Lasso is the collective liberal fantasy of who Joe Biden could be if we maybe all wished hard enough. He’s replaced the collective fantasy of who Hillary Clinton could be after she failed to best Donald Trump. And only time will tell us if we’ll end up repudiating him — and all his pop cultural analogues — too.

Christ on a cracker. Somehow this explains so much and yet nothing at all. Open thread.

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