23 February 2010
Trends: Jackass, Bizkit, Diesel and the Fuck You Culture of 2000-2002
In honour of the two-year anniversary of the launching of Jackassworld.com (convenient blogging excuses 101), today I'm taking a gander at an interesting bit of sub-culture from the turn of the century, which I am summing up as "Fuck You Culture." Needless to say, Adult Language galore in the following post:
So, what am I talking about here? The end of the Twentieth-Century gave us excesses of American culture in every fashion, often steering towards intense jingoism. I've already talked about the rise and bloating of this kind of zeitgeist here. Understanding massive culture trends is actually very simple. Everything is always a reaction to something else. This conservative, authority-bound culture broke by the final year of the past century where we saw the great uprise of Anti-Normalcy films, as I called them. Now, what happened after this? In that small time period between an era of unparalleled American Excess and the attacks of September 11th, 2001, we grew an interesting culture. This group of people in general realised how far we had grown and began to rebel, but in a way that yet remained in the confidence of American Global Hegemony. Basically, they were brats. Kids who had seen all the Anti-Normalcy films and gotten the message wrong. Wanting to rebel and believe in something else, but not understanding exactly what, thus we arrive at the Fuck You Culture of 2000-2002.
Music and the Inherent Damnation of Woodstock '99:
Joseph Bruce. The music was angry. Even if the lyrics and even some of the stylings weren't angry, the attitude was. It was this big "Fuck You!" to the establishment, not unlike the Sixties, but it was this radically violent "Fuck You!" not one based on peace and love. Obviously these sort of angry people existed in the Sixties, but they had reasoning and manifestos and lots of education to back up their radicalism. The "Fuck You!" of 1999 was based on ignorant kids wanting ice cream before dinner.
Hot Topic, Backwards Hats and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater:
Most of the "Fuck You! Culture" came out of the skating scene. It's that kind of "XxXtreme!" attitude that helped to craft the angry, anti-authoritarian culture that pervaded the early 21st-Century. This can be seen in the explosion of popularity from events like the X Games, even the conclusion of Snowboarding in the Winter Olympics in 1998 (greatly boosting American Medal Counts ever since). Thanks to video games like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (1999), even fat or socially awkward youth could get in on the sub-culture. Stores like Hot Topic (long before it became a means of creating vampires) funded the fashion while icons like the aforementioned Fred Durst provided new and unique ways of wearing Yankees Hats backwards all the time, not as expression of love for the team, but just as fashion. Man I fucking hate this culture. It called itself "Punk" or skate-obsessed, but really a small number could name the members of The Ramones or actually know how to do an ollie. The distinction between true Skater-Culture and Fuck You! Culture Posers is almost indiscernible, because though different in motivation, they are identical in attitude towards authority.
The Diesel Cometh:
I mean, look at those boobs. These kind of films were in fact more similar to the jingoistic Patriot films like Independence Day (1996) than something like The Matrix (1999). They appealed very flatly to visceral thrill reactions instead of any deeper underscored theme. The music accompanying these films is fast, violent and thoroughly tied to an extreme way of life. In fact, the best way I can probably describe this sub-culture is fast. It predicts the forced immediacy in our current zeitgeist, the only real difference between now and then being the true immediate availability of any piece of information or media conceivable from virtually any spot on earth (except some regions in northeastern Ohio). The Fuck You! Culture exhibits a need for immediate satisfaction from its sports, films and music, the technology to do so would follow. Perhaps this is cause for some of the anger in the Fuck You! Culture, that some things at the turn of the century were as of yet, unimmediate.
Here we go. The greatest instance of Fuck You! Culture comes from small-budgeted MTV show, Jackass. Premiering in October of the year 2000, Jackass was full of not necessarily angry young men, but at least a bunch of dumb young men who were willing to push reality for a laugh. What I mean by this is the notion that
the cast members would routinely sacrifice not only their bodies, but dignity, social standing, and on occasion, their actual real lives for their craft. This should be seen as a good predecessor to Borat (2006), as well as other hidden, goof camera shows (some, like Trigger Happy TV pulled the same schtick with much more class, thus much less of a cultural influence).
I generally praise Jackass for its creativity and willingness to not pull any punches. Ever. Half the stunts play out like real-life Looney Tunes moments (see the giant rocket in Jackass Number Two ). It's a show that encapsulates almost every significant part of the Fuck You! Culture without a ton of the explicitly violent aggression that plagued Woodstock '99. It's less Fred Durst and more Jimmy Pop. It's dirty, but playful instead of negative. Fueled by skaters, kitsch and a love for taking one's body to the extreme, Jackass takes much of the Fuck You! Culture and makes it positive, both in a spiritual sense (you always get the impression that these people are great friends, and they are, there's a continued feeling of comfort), commercially (nearly $500 mill lifetime for Johnny) and critically (uhhh...two thumbs from Ebert for the second one).
Anyway, the movement here was really about living in excess with little care to consequence or social standards. This kind of thinking slowly gave way in the mid-2000s to a more consumer and judgment-based culture that currently has its way with the current zeitgeist. This was mostly fueled by technology catching up to the spirit of the times, but again, it also has to do with younger generations simply getting the message wrong. Kids watching The Matrix and then thinking that their minds are free through the course of violence and "coolness" instead of the tranquility necessary for spiritual growth. We're too crowded. The Fuck You! Culture in many ways took all this really good shit that came out at the end of the Twentieth Century and boiled it down to "FUCK YOU!" In this basest of expressions, the Anti-Normalcy movement was lost and the door was open for Twilight: New Moon (2009) to have the greatest opening weekend of all time.
If I lost you there, don't worry about it. I'll connect the dots soon!