Twee: The Gentle Revolution in Music, Books, Television, Fashion, and Film


What is the most polarizing and important youth movement since Hip-Hop?


Artisanal chocolate. Mustaches. Locally sourced vegetables. Etsy. Birds.
Flea markets. Cult films. Horn-rimmed glasses.

What do all of these icons have in common? They are signifiers that author Marc Spitz groups as falling ...

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Twee: The Gentle Revolution in Music, Books, Television, Fashion, and Film

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What is the most polarizing and important youth movement since Hip-Hop?


Artisanal chocolate. Mustaches. Locally sourced vegetables. Etsy. Birds.
Flea markets. Cult films. Horn-rimmed glasses.

What do all of these icons have in common? They are signifiers that author Marc Spitz groups as falling under the umbrella of Twee, a powerful, expansive youth movement that has colored popular culture in surprising ways.

In the same way that Douglas Coupland branded Generation X with his groundbreaking novel, Spitz gives name to a sensibility that prizes kindness over irony, encourages obsessive fandom and collection culture, supports a hunger for purity of craft, and, most important, strives for the preservation of the innocence of childhood. As a result, Twee is divisive, and Spitz shows that there is a tribe of people who fiercely self-identify while others simply cringe.

Twee features exclusive interviews plus in-depth research on Twee touchstones past and present, including Walt Disney, James Dean, J. D. Salinger, Sylvia Plath, Dr. Seuss, Truman Capote, Maurice Sendak, Edward Gorey, Jean Seberg, the Kinks, Judy Blume, Nick Drake, Jonathan Richman, Beat Happening, the Smiths, They Might Be Giants, Nirvana, Belle and Sebastian, Wes Anderson, Pitchfork, This American Life, McSweeney's, mumblecore, Vampire Weekend, Sufjan Stevens, Miranda July, Tavi Gevinson, Lena Dunham, Portlandia, and Zooey Deschanel.

Expansive, engaging, and festooned with more than enough kittens, this is the first definitive history of Twee.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With his characteristic ingenuity, razor-sharp cultural insights, and cunning humor, Spitz (Poseur) chronicles the history of the ever-growing aesthetic called Twee. Spitz's utterly engaging history from the 1950s to the present finds Twee alive and well not only in literary figures like J.D. Salinger, but also Judy Blume, Sylvia Plath, and Dave Eggers; musicians such as The Buzzcocks, Morrissey, and Belle and Sebastian; movie directors including Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach, and Walt Disney; and television shows such as Gilmore Girls and Girls. Members of the Twee tribe embrace an approach to life that includes a focus on "beauty over ugliness," "a tether to childhood and its attendant innocence and lack of greed," and a lust for knowledge. Thus, for example, Salinger becomes "the greatest and most beloved Twee Tribe godfather of them all" because Salinger creates characters in both Holden Caulfield and Seymour Glass in whom we can see our "ideal selves as physically attractive and troubled…pop-savvy, all versed in magazines, jazz, and movies even as they remain haunted." In an appendix, Spitz includes lists of music, books, and movies and television shows that can help answer the question, ‘Am I Twee?' (June)
Kirkus Reviews
Salinger to Seuss and beyond: a flattering assessment of Pop Culture’s Division of Arrested Development, with some intriguing stops along the way.As rock biographer and scribe Spitz (Poseur: A Memoir of Downtown New York in the ’90s, 2013, etc.) sees it, America is in the warm and loving grip of a revolution that worships all things small, geeky and outsider. Twee no longer means insufferable cuteness; now, it’s a kinder, gentler form of punk that fights oppression (bullying, meanness, etc.) in its own quiet, sensitive way. Historic touchstones range from icons of doomed sensitivity (Anne Frank, Sylvia Plath, James Dean) to introspective troubadours like Jonathan Richman, Nick Drake, Morrissey and Kurt Cobain. The twee aesthetic fetishizes childhood and fears growing up (Holden Caulfield in J.D. Salinger’sThe Catcher in the Rye, the kids inThe Breakfast Club, everyone in Wes Anderson’s movies) and manifests a progressive, do-it-yourself sensibility. “Twee rebels don’t want to destroy everything around them,” writes the author. “Rather, they want to fix it.” Spitz astutely shows the Tweeing of America, offers some sharp insights (the Smiths and They Might Be Giants are the Beatles and Stones of Twee) and delivers a substantial history of indie cinema’s mumblecore movement. He’s too twee himself to be really critical, however; he’s a veritable Prophet of Portlandia, proclaiming that “the new culture of kindness is helping us improve as Americans.” He dodges the question he unintentionally raises: If tumultuous times create art, do peace, serenity and kindness really do anything substantial?For those who get twee, the book is a soothing, self-justifying enabler; for those who don’t, it’s an amiable guide for the perplexed.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062213044
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/3/2014
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 329,708
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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