The Decline of Western Civilization: Bro Culture


"Yo Girl. I'm finna' come over later and play you the new Bon Iver album. It's tiiiight."

Friends,

Assuming most of you haven’t spent the last decade under boulders in desert highlands, bordering two or more Middle Eastern nations, I’ll wager that you’re all quite familiar with our current sociopolitical climate, or in which the way popular culture has shaped itself leading into this Information Age. One thing that has really been grinding my gears lately is what I’ve heard some media outlets refer to as, Bro Culture. Lets rewind all the way back to the early 2000’s/very late 1990’s, shall we?

Someone please hire me. I do weddings, corporate retreats, Bar Mitzvahs, etc...

In what I can only imagine was a big middle finger response (much like “grunge” was a middle finger to hair metal) to the teenie-pop, boy-band dominated 90’s, an evil worm slithered into our collective consciousness. It nested there for at least 4-5 years, and it churned out mass-produced, over-the-top cartoon aggression for all of ‘Merica’s impressionable, Mid-Western youth to spend their Tastee Freeze paychecks on. I’m talking about nu-metal, rap-metal, whatever the hell you want to call it. It’s bad enough that places like Hot Topic had already co-opted punk, indie, hardcore, etc., but their Chinese-olympian-like dedication to this new (new then) “art form” was completely over the top. Mainstream pop-culture had gone from subverting the music I love and repackaging it, so they could sell it back to me for a profit to helping create an amalgamation of some of the most embarrassing aspects of our culture, period. Case in point:

  • Dumbed down lyrics that appeal to the lowest common denominator
  • A child-like fashion sense
  • An overdeveloped sense of entitlement
Sad Frat Boy is sad.

I don’t think its too far fetched to imagine someone provoking violence at the slightest trigger if their daily musical diet consisted of nothing but “Break Stuff.”

Not long after nu-metal started to die down, we were blessed by HBO’s Entourage (now entering its eighth and final season). Much like the perfectly proportioned models in Cosmo and Glamour, this show pandered to insecurity, and reinforced in us the ideas and morals that some of us had turned our backs on years ago, and for the better. I think if you take all of the above, and mix in pop music’s reliance to use female sexuality as a crutch, you have a dangerous melting pot of anti-intellectualism.

We all know (duh) that truly groundbreaking and meaningful art forms tend to remain hidden in the underground. Although, I did notice a fork in the road, a spinoff if you will, a few years back in which indie rock created an alternate mainstream, different from all the MTV rubbish (much like punk rock did in the early 90’s before it was co-opted…I think it’s already starting to happen with today’s underground/indie music scene, too). I have a feeling we’re already entrenched in it actually. I mean…have you seen any car commercials lately? On a positive note: Arcade Fire won a Grammy (well deserved, too, in my opinion)!

Back to the article…I guess you could say that Bro Culture originated when Hugh Hefner launched his now-famous magazine, Playboy. Actually, I’m sure that as long as men have had the means to earn high wages, surround themselves with mindless yes-men friends and conquer women of questionable morals, we’ve had some form or another of Bro Culture.

What’s really bugging me these days is Bro Culture’s blatant disregard of our most basic sociological principles; Gender equality, self-worth not revolving around social status, humility and inter-personal relationships. It’s become perfectly acceptable (almost fashionable even), with help from Maxim Magazine, reality television, etc. for one’s main aspiration in life to be the pursuit of wealth, and to bask in the spoils that come with it (and then to brag about it). Shows like Entourage do more harm in this way than their producers would like you to belive, I bet.

People watch television because they want to escape reality, or maybe because they feel like they can relate to certain character archetypes. So lets say I’m a slightly below average male in his early 20’s, from a lower economic background, with not much more than a high school education to my name. Maybe I have a job, maybe I don’t. I fucking LOVE Entourage. Ari Gold is my hero. The way he talks shit, the way he oozes confidence and power hypnotize me. Entourage tells my impressionable mind that it’s cool to objectify women. It tells me that I should measure my self-worth with how many dollars I have in the bank. It tells me that if I’m not already living beyond my means, then I had better hop to it if I want (my idea of) society to accept me. Ed Hardy, Grey Goose, a Benz and the rental home in the Hollywood Hills that I’ve had my eye on aren’t going to purchase themselves. All the while, I’m cruising around blasting Limp Bizkit, 50 Cent, or some other misogynistic flavor-of-the-week, looking to fuck bitches, smoke weed and fight the next faggot that looks at me funny.

Obviously, selling promises of wealth and notoriety to our country’s marginalized, uneducated, barely-scraping-by lower class, is nothing new. Some may look at these forms of media as a glimmer of hope; something to strive for in an otherwise brutal and oppressed existence. I disagree with this notion. I was lower-middle class growing up, and when I was in high school, “Playa’ Rap” was the big thing. I couldn’t relate to Notorious B.I.G.** , on a yacht, drinking champagne, rapping to me from the Technicolor confines of a Hype Williams video. It didn’t seem real. Everyone loves a rags-to-riches story, and I believe that’s what they were trying to sell me, but learn some humility dammit.

**I have since learned to appreciate Biggie for what he was...a tremendously talented rapper/singer/musician who died way too early, "Playa' Rap" or not.

I think it’s getting easier to hide behind our Bros, wasted, than it is to carve out a niche for ourselves that’s real. I think that this is the bottom line here. There’s a don’t-rock-the-boat mentality perpetuated by the mainstream. It teaches us to buy what they’re selling, and not to question why. We put “cool” up on a pedestal. “Cool” trumps everything. Basically, it all boils down to the one fundamental truth that every single one of us has really known all along, the entire time:

When at all possible, think for yourself. In my opinion (if it counts for anything), thinking for yourself and standing behind your beliefs, is the pinnacle of cool. I also realize that this is much easier said than done.

There’s obviously nothing wrong with tuning into a half hour long TV show once a week and enjoying it for what it is. There’s nothing wrong about my wife reading through her Glamour Magazines, fantasizing about all the fabulous clothes and shoes that jump off of every single page. Funny thing is, is that I’m guitly too. I drive a BMW. Why? Because it’s fucking cool, that’s why. A Kia, or a Hybrid of some sort would’ve done the job more than adequately, and cost me much less. There’s a catch though. The difference between me and the impressionable 20 year-old, is this:

I can recognize the bald-faced irony that’s plastered all over me while cruising down the road at 80 in my finely tuned German BMW, with the windows rolled down, BLASTING Propagandhi from my very expensive car audio system.

For Vince, E, Turtle and Drama,

This is Mike Apathy signing off.

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