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Overlooked retro concepts

Will Bartles & Jaymes Fuzzy Navel wine coolers make a comeback?

Looney Tunes gangster shirts — waiting for ironic revival since 1996
Looney Tunes gangster shirts — waiting for ironic revival since 1996

Dear Hipster:

I get why hipsters love to recreate awkward family photos from the 1980s and why they love ugly Christmas sweater parties. I dig it when they play records at home. In fact, I can see the reasons behind most of the hipster stuff that goes on. But, I wonder, why do so many things ripe for ironic/genuine, repopularity go unnoticed? What kind of retro stuff do hipsters actively dislike?

— Neill

It’s true that many random things from decades past haven’t yet been drawn into the orbit of hipster coolness. Occasionally, defunct pop cultural moments get left to moulder in history because some odious and best-forgotten stench hangs over them (more on that later); but for the most part there’s no single reason why so many things never live again as ironic T-shirts, Facebook memes, or out and out social movement. Still, many explanations make partial sense.

For one, there just isn’t enough time to breathe new life into every retro concept. Hipsters have their hands full getting people to drink more vintage cocktails. That doesn’t leave much time for ironically cracking open a Bartles & Jaymes Fuzzy Navel wine cooler as an homage to the drunken aunts of every 1980s family get-together…which actually doesn’t sound like such a bad idea, now that I’ve spoken it out loud.

I also suspect that certain things have to fall permanently out of fashion, with no hope of renewal, because there’s just no conceivable argument for their utility. I know, some guy with a kickass LaserDisc collection is probably going to send in a manifesto (naturally, written on the back of a napkin stained by Bloody Mary mix and Cheetos powder) that enumerates the advantages of jumping to any given frame with perfect accuracy and clarity... but, I mean, come on, bro.

Some things, like I said, carry distinctly bad vibes. I don’t foresee a hipster revival of those old, super-racist cartoons from the ’30s and ’40s, the ones that people thought were not only hilarious but totally appropriate for children. Even those hip-hop gangster Looney Toons shirts from the ’90s seem weird and inappropriate today. If you don’t remember those, they were the ones that the guy with the mullet at the mall kiosk would airbrush for you in any size greater than XXXL. Even the most discerning hipster can’t find the charm in Daffy Duck dressed like the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

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Looney Tunes gangster shirts — waiting for ironic revival since 1996
Looney Tunes gangster shirts — waiting for ironic revival since 1996

Dear Hipster:

I get why hipsters love to recreate awkward family photos from the 1980s and why they love ugly Christmas sweater parties. I dig it when they play records at home. In fact, I can see the reasons behind most of the hipster stuff that goes on. But, I wonder, why do so many things ripe for ironic/genuine, repopularity go unnoticed? What kind of retro stuff do hipsters actively dislike?

— Neill

It’s true that many random things from decades past haven’t yet been drawn into the orbit of hipster coolness. Occasionally, defunct pop cultural moments get left to moulder in history because some odious and best-forgotten stench hangs over them (more on that later); but for the most part there’s no single reason why so many things never live again as ironic T-shirts, Facebook memes, or out and out social movement. Still, many explanations make partial sense.

For one, there just isn’t enough time to breathe new life into every retro concept. Hipsters have their hands full getting people to drink more vintage cocktails. That doesn’t leave much time for ironically cracking open a Bartles & Jaymes Fuzzy Navel wine cooler as an homage to the drunken aunts of every 1980s family get-together…which actually doesn’t sound like such a bad idea, now that I’ve spoken it out loud.

I also suspect that certain things have to fall permanently out of fashion, with no hope of renewal, because there’s just no conceivable argument for their utility. I know, some guy with a kickass LaserDisc collection is probably going to send in a manifesto (naturally, written on the back of a napkin stained by Bloody Mary mix and Cheetos powder) that enumerates the advantages of jumping to any given frame with perfect accuracy and clarity... but, I mean, come on, bro.

Some things, like I said, carry distinctly bad vibes. I don’t foresee a hipster revival of those old, super-racist cartoons from the ’30s and ’40s, the ones that people thought were not only hilarious but totally appropriate for children. Even those hip-hop gangster Looney Toons shirts from the ’90s seem weird and inappropriate today. If you don’t remember those, they were the ones that the guy with the mullet at the mall kiosk would airbrush for you in any size greater than XXXL. Even the most discerning hipster can’t find the charm in Daffy Duck dressed like the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

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