There is no new culture, everything is recycled


Leon Mc

Rachel Gortney, Meredith Conrad and Lily Frazier picture next to women from the 50s and 60s. Today that there are no new ideas. Everything is recycled.

Our society is more connected than ever, yet it is simultaneously more socially detached. We have access to every type of cultures spanning across millennia. This connection allows for more self-expression and identity, but takes from the sense of a community. 

Music, movies, books and artistic styles no longer define our culture. Instead we are stuck in being categorized by our tragedies; the pandemic, our dreaded future, the fear of ongoing war, inflation, the ever-present declining environment and by how much we consume. 

Every single person has their own niche and personalized preference. Our current society does not allow for communal identification. It makes for a much more depressing sense of connection with a lack of forward momentum in our culture. 

Mark Fisher was an important writer, cultural theorist and academic who wrote many critical books of the early 2000s that have contributed to the theory on the death of culture. 

“To be in the 21st century is to have 20th century culture distributed by high speed internet,” Fisher said.

As the years go on, the internet digests more and more of our minds. It allows each and every person to be in an online community exclusive to their niches, separate from those physically surrounding them. 

Everyone can like everything, there is no division. Everything is accessible within a whim, and as such, anyone can easily enjoy anything. In years past, prior to the internet, there was a boundary of limitations that has been proportionally dismantled with the expansion of the internet. Then, an individual’s culture was exclusively influenced by their environment and personal experiences. Now, an individual can learn anything from anywhere.

The sense of progress is improving, we have flat screen TVs, 1080p as a standard video quality, 5G data, an increase in AI and cars can almost drive themselves. While the world of technology is expanding, culture is reversing.

It is slow, but certainly withering. Culture is no longer specific to a moment in time. Nothing ever dies, (which is not a positive.) Any piece of media can be rebooted. Any piece of clothing of a different decade can be popular. Nothing is special. 

The phenomenon of the death of culture can be closely examined through the media. Any music made today could have been made by those decades prior. There is nothing groundbreaking or revolutionary about the music we listen to. 

In most all decades and centuries past there was a close relationship between the year and the music. Each experience in someone’s life could be marked significantly by their connection to music. 

“Imagine any record released in the past couple of years being beamed back in time to, say, 1995 and played on the radio. It’s hard to think that it will produce any jolt in the listeners,” Fisher said. “Contrast this with the rapid turnover styles between the 1960s and the 90s: play a jungle record from 1993 to someone in 1989 and it would have sounded like something so new that it would have challenged them to rethink what music was, or could be.”

Let me explain this in examples now: send the popular album Brutal by Olivia Rodrigo or music by Car Seat Headrest back to bands like Nirvana or Nine Inch Nails. They wouldn’t bat an eye before concluding that it was music able to be released alongside their albums. 

Now that I have explained that part of the theory, I shall expand upon its complexity. 

We were taught of the ramifications of climate change as early as 5th grade. We were told that if we did not change, our world would die…. and our socitiey still has not changed, at least, not as much as we need to. Governments keep promising change, but they keep breaking their vows. There has been constant paranoia among our generation that has only worsened with the pandemic that hit at our primary years of growth. 

The view of the future to the generations has always been a negative one. Yet unlike our grandparents and past ancestors, famine and World Wars are not what concerns the most of us. Instead, we are in an ongoing war against ourselves and our planet. 

Observe The Jetsons (1962), Back to the Future Part II (1989) and 1991’s Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. What do they all have in common? A utopian view of the future. One that seems inconceivable now, yet, we are living in their presumed utopia. It is certainly not as they hoped. 

Contrast this to series’ views of the future from the past decade: The Walking Dead, The 100, Sweet Tooth, Attack on Titan and plenty more. Now, what do these ones have in common? Just the apocalypse and extinction of the majority of mankind, nothing special. There is an obvious drastic difference in the lack of hope for the future.

It is as Fisher said, “Those who can’t remember the past are condemned to have it resold to them forever.” 

Our theaters and streaming services will only continue to be swarmed with sequels and reboots. There will be hundreds more books written on the founding fathers, hundreds more series depicting our unlikely future, and a never ending supply when it comes to the consistently  sounding music. 

We do not know what will happen next each and every day, that has always remained true within the history of mankind. Each generation holds all of the past upon our backs, now that we know so much, the possibilities appear more dire.