To Connect Or Not To Connect? That Is The Question.
It's a metaphor.
In 1995, Robert D. Putnam, a political scientist wrote an essay entitled Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital. It's not as depressing a book as it sounds (but it's not a comedy I won't lie to you.) Basically, it outlines various aspects of why American culture has become less social over time and some ways in which society can regain its sense of civic involvement. I read the book back in university and if you're interested in sociology you can check out some of his corollary essays to get a taste of it. One of the ideas that stuck with me was that of the television.
But whereas Putnam blamed the literal television for distracting people from human interaction, I take television to be a small manifestation of something much larger. What that larger thing is, I actually have no better word for. The best I can do is simply point out the fact that while a Television (capital T) is indeed just that, it's also something more. It's a metaphor. A metaphor for anything and everything that we use to consume and escape our daily lives. Some have even criticized Putnam for having missed the fact that sociologists were critical of things like radio for distracting from civic life long before TV was even a thing. But this misses the point that human beings have always had habits of consumption and escape. This isn't an inherently bad thing, at least I don't think so. But to be blind to the fact that it's happening at all...that is bad. Because if something isolates us like a Television does (capital T!), then we need to be aware of it if we hope to control our level of consumption rather than be controlled by it. We need to balance our Television use, with the Telephone.
Again I'm speaking of the metaphorical Telephone. Before we go on let's define these terms so I don't continue to pester you with parentheticals.
George's Homemade Metaphors (A Family Recipe)
Television: from ancient Greek τῆλε (tèle), meaning "far", and Latin visio, meaning "sight". Metaphorically, any thing or activity that is used to consume information or entertainment to the exclusion of other human beings. TL;DR Something that isolates.Telephone: From Ancient Greek τῆλε (têle, "afar") + φωνή (phōnḗ, "voice, sound"). Metaphorically, any thing or activity that is used to connect or interact with other human beings. TL;DR Something that connects.
All good? Good.
Television vs. Telephone
So now the question becomes, what is the new Television? What is the new Telephone? The answer is actually the same thing:
Smart phones place both a telephone and a television (literally and metaphorically) into our hands. But most of our consumption and connection no longer takes place in separate apps. They take place inside our social media. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Snapchat. The Big Four. These apps have the potential to be used as either Telephones or Televisions depending upon the whimsy of the user.
Now that we've covered what it means to use something as a Television or Telephone, let's take a look at some examples of usage depending on what app you're in. And remember that with each of these examples, Television doesn't equal bad and Telephone doesn't equal good. But by virtue of the fact that Television is easier than Telephone, some of the examples will appear negative.
Facebook as Television:
- Facebook stalking
- Cat Videos
- News, Think Pieces, Your Best Friend's political rant with 100 angry comments
- FB Omphaloskepsis. I.e. Nostalgically looking at your own newsfeed (I'm not the only one who does this right?)
- FB Live
Facebook as Telephone:
- Tagging your FB friends in a status or picture or video
- Making a cat video and sharing it with the world
- Writing a status that encourages dialogue
- Asking for advice or encouragement from the FB community
- FB Live (yeah it goes both ways)
Twitter as Television:
- *Scroll, scroll, scroll*
Twitter as Telephone:
- Having a twitter convo with friends (or strangers!)
- Starting or engaging in a hashtag trend
- Creating Memes
Instagram as Television:
- *Scroll, Scroll, Scroll*
- Living in the magnifying glass tab
- Clicking on endless hashtags
Instagram as Telephone:
- Sharing pics from your life (even more so if it includes people you can tag in the picture)
- Constructing an Insta Story that entertains your followers or engages with your friends
- Instagram Live
Snapchat as Television:
- Watching everyone's story
- Clicking on every news/promo story
- Looking at yourself in all the different filters (sorry that's Television)
Snapchat as Telephone:
- Snapping directly with a friend
- Constructing a story that entertains and engages with your friends
- Taking a picture of yourself in a filter and then sending it to someone (that's Telephone)
Now Go And Do Likewise
Did I miss anything? Are there new ways of using social media that haven't been thought of yet? I'm sure that there are. Leave me some comments on how best to use social media as a Television or a Telephone.
A cultural misunderstanding may be responsible for Shein's swastika necklace scandal...but it's still an awful company
Popular fast-fashion retailer Shein came under fire this week for selling a swastika necklace on their website.
A Chinese company, Shein has become well-known for their inexpensive clothing and accessories, often featured in so-called "haul" videos on YouTube. Shein has since removed the necklace from their site and issued an apology. But screenshots of the faux-gold necklace—listed for between $2.50 and $4.00 as "Metal Swastika Pendant Necklace"— quickly spread on social media, with users expressing their disgust at the apparent insensitivity to what that symbol represents.
To everyone we’ve offended, we’re really sorry... https://t.co/rm6TCgx99K— SHEIN (@SHEIN)1594381498.0
Earlier this month Shein was called out for cultural insensitivity after listing Muslim prayer rugs—some featuring an image of the sacred Kaaba in Mecca—as "Fringe Trim Carpets" for decorative use and for selling traditional Southeast Asian dresses modeled by white women and renamed to remove cultural signifiers.
Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.
Villains always have the best outfits.
From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.
Way more handsome than Batman. static.giantbomb.com
But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.
Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.
Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.
Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did. i.imgur.com
Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.
As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.
History of Nazi Chic
For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.
The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.
Very rotten, Johnny. i.redd.it
Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.
The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid. images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com
Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.
Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.
Lady Gaga looking SS-uper. nyppagesix.files.wordpress.com
Nazi Chic in Asia
Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.
A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.
In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.
OF COURSE. i.imgur.com
That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.
In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.
So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?
The answer is not so black and white.
On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.
But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.
Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.
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