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

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

by Marc Spitz
     
 

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New York Times, Spin, and Vanity Fair contributor Marc Spitz explores the first great cultural movement since Hip Hop: an old-fashioned and yet highly modern aesthetic that’s embraced internationally by teens, twenty and thirty-somethings and even some Baby Boomers; creating hybrid generation known as Twee. Via exclusive interviews

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Overview

New York Times, Spin, and Vanity Fair contributor Marc Spitz explores the first great cultural movement since Hip Hop: an old-fashioned and yet highly modern aesthetic that’s embraced internationally by teens, twenty and thirty-somethings and even some Baby Boomers; creating hybrid generation known as Twee. Via exclusive interviews and years of research, Spitz traces Generation Twee’s roots from the Post War 50s to its dominance in popular culture today.

Vampire Weekend, Garden State, Miranda July, Belle and Sebastian, Wes Anderson, Mumblecore, McSweeney’s, Morrissey, beards, artisanal pickles, food trucks, crocheted owls on Etsy, ukuleles, kittens and Zooey Deschanel—all are examples of a cultural aesthetic of calculated precocity known as Twee.

In Twee, journalist and cultural observer Marc Spitz surveys the rising Twee movement in music, art, film, fashion, food and politics and examines the cross-pollinated generation that embodies it—from aging hipsters to nerd girls, indie snobs to idealistic industrialists. Spitz outlines the history of twee—the first strong, diverse, and wildly influential youth movement since Punk in the ’70s and Hip Hop in the ’80s—showing how awkward glamour and fierce independence has become part of the zeitgeist.

Focusing on its origins and hallmarks, he charts the rise of this trend from its forefathers like Disney, Salinger, Plath, Seuss, Sendak, Blume and Jonathan Richman to its underground roots in the post-punk United Kingdom, through the late’80s and early ’90s of K Records, Whit Stillman, Nirvana, Wes Anderson, Pitchfork, This American Life, and Belle and Sebastian, to the current (and sometimes polarizing) appeal of Girls, Arcade Fire, Rookie magazine, and hellogiggles.com.

Revealing a movement defined by passionate fandom, bespoke tastes, a rebellious lack of irony or swagger, the championing of the underdog, and the vanquishing of bullies, Spitz uncovers the secrets of modern youth culture: how Twee became pervasive, why it has so many haters and where, in a post-Portlandia world, can it go from here?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
11/03/2014
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
2014-05-27
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:
06/03/2014
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
1,110,266
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.00(h) x 1.00(d)

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