metamodernism is exhausting

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We live in the era of metamodernism. It consumes all art. It’s what you listen to, watch, and see.

Quick refresher:

  • Pre-modernism: God is everything.
  • Modernism: Progress is everything.
  • Post-modernism: Sorry, we killed God and now everything is subjective.
  • Metamodernism: Hold on, the discourse is everything.

Metamodernism is often depicted with a pendulum swinging back and forth between modernism and post-modernism. It compares and contrasts meaning with meaninglessness, irony with substance, pleasure with despair, etc. The comparison is the form.

And it’s a fucking chore to sit through. Barbie, the film, is peak metamodernism. It needs to be feminist and corrupt, frivolous and profound, historically cynical and outwardly hopeful, all of these together … and it was 45 minutes too long and said everything without saying much (which is OK, a movie about Barbie doesn’t need to be a profound work of philosophy if it doesn’t want to be). Oppenheimer, too, suffered in this way. It needed to tell stories big and small, joyous and disastrous, light and dark, all of the comparisons, and it too was about 50 minutes too long.

The problem with metamodernism (and societal discourse right now) is that it wants to fill every niche of discourse in a single piece. It wants to hold all the opinions, even on itself, before we the viewer are allowed to form our own thoughts. It is no longer media you can participate with.

Also, there’s a vicious cycle where the form wants to tell you every opinion and the creator is happy to do so because then their work will be criticism-proof. Barbie already told you it was flawed, sorry trolls.

I want art that is brave enough to attempt a single perspective (not needing to tell every possible interpretation), steeled against criticism (and not self-referential to teflon itself against negative reactions), and wise enough to know when it is over.

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