Entering Brainville: Surviving the indie mania

In Columns, Opinion

The word “indie” is vastly overused, often describing materials and lifestyles far from indie. It’s used to describe “different” music shown on MTV and clothes sold at Urban Outfitters, but how is indie something advertised and sold by a mainstream juggernaut? This fad has high school and college students salivating as they wait for what corporate America spoon-feeds them next. These “indie” products are coated in capitalism and are quickly gobbled up.

Students litter the Cal State Fullerton campus in skinny jeans and V-necks, walking in TOMS while sipping a latte. Their fashion taste isn’t the problem, it’s their inability to choose these fashions for themselves. Where were these people 10 years ago when rap filled the airwaves? How about five years ago before the fad exploded to what it is today? Their tastes and lifestyles depend on what’s currently trending, and that just happens to be today’s indie mania.

It’s unfortunate that what made indie so unique is being exploited by people who think it’s the coolest new thing to do, while knowing little about it. I’m not saying people shouldn’t be allowed to listen to some obscure band, but the way it was all of a sudden popularized took me aback.
In the early 2000s, I was used to the wannabe gangsters sagging their pants and strutting to class while also being on the honor roll at my Catholic elementary school. I snickered as they swore to the thug life, knowing it was all an act. Eminem was their role model and they wanted to pretend like they knew the struggles from 8 Mile.

A Chicago Tribune article discusses how MTV hired a researcher several years ago to find what appeals to most of the network’s 12-to-34-year-old target audience. This was done in order to create a product more desirable to young adults while also increasing ratings.

This isn’t anything new (companies do this all the time to better profit), but it exemplifies how fads are created and exploited. Conglomerates look for what’s hot and milk it for what it’s worth.
Those of us who actually behaved in the way that’s been coined “indie” years before it became contagious are left looking around puzzled at our clones; they look and sound like us, but are definitely far from actually being us. They only pretend to like the same music and clothes and to think similarly.

Think of hippies from the 1960s. It became a crazy, global fad many young people took part in. It didn’t last too long, and those who once considered themselves hippies had a new lifestyle by the mid-1970s. Not everyone gave up on the fad, though. The small groups of loyalists who remain can still be seen from time to time.

But just like the hippie trend, this too will pass. Within a couple of years, these indie clones will shut down and reboot to a new trend corporatism has programed into them. Us loyalists wouldn’t be happier to see these spineless machines leave the skinny jeans behind.

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