I’ve been thinking a lot about trendiness of late (probably because I’m writing a book that deals largely with questions of cool, relevance, and trendiness in the context of Christianity). I’ve also been thinking about transience in general—impermanence, aging, death, things like that (probably because I just watched Synecdoche New York again). The two are related, of course. Nothing lasts in life—whether we’re talking about youth or our favorite TV show.
In my book I’m trying to locate “hip” in the context of metaphysics. How does the idea of being fashionable, cool, etc. correspond to our existence? We talk about it as a cultural construct all the time—and certainly this is important—but is it more elemental than that? Is the ephemeral in fashion and “cool” paralleled or derived from the ephemeral in our own very existence? In other words: is it a coincidence that 1) we all desire “cool,” 2) “cool” is necessarily an ever-changing, constantly cannibalizing phenomenon, and 3) we are all aware of death and the urgency of living?
Anyway, whether or not that makes complete sense or not, it got me thinking about the phrase “___ is the new ___.” It’s funny how fast something cool becomes old and is supplanted by something “new”… I mean, it’s like we acknowledge that we never really liked X all that much in the first place, now that we have Y. It’s like we are admitting that the reason we value something has nothing to do with its inherent qualities (our appreciation of which should theoretically withstand the winds of fashion) but everything to do with its cultural cache. But then again, perhaps we’re just being honest with ourselves: a scarf or musician or restaurant can never enchant us permanently, because as humans on this decaying planet we really only know how to deal in impermanence.
Anyway, that led me to think of some current examples of “___ is the new ___.”
Overplayed pop princesses: Lady Gaga is the new Rihanna
Healthy yuppie breakfast: Oatmeal is the new yogurt-and-granola
Confections: Macarons are the new cupcakes
High end icy desserts: Shave ice is the new Fro-yo
Hip hop beats: Exotic jungle bird sounds are the new 808s
Bearded hipster musicians: Dan Deacon is the new Sam Beam
Cable news-fueled paranoia: Swine flu is the new Recession
Sunglasses: John Lennons are the new Ray-Bans
NPR name dropping: Saying you hate waterboarding is the new saying you love Mad Men.
Hipster bars: Classy speakeasies are the new ironic biker dives
So what other examples can you think of?