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Have you ever had a decent Mudslide?

That’s darn interesting from a pop pseudo-anthropology standpoint.

A dessert that gets you drunk.
A dessert that gets you drunk.

Dear Hipster:

Although I would tend to agree that cool hipster stuff (music, fashion, food, or whatever) pushes boundaries in a good way, one thing I have noticed time and time again is that avant garde culture always turns into some weird arms race. For example, if facial hair is on trend, it seems like everybody wants to grow a more luxurious beard or a bushier mustache than the next guy. If obscure music becomes popular, people start one-upping each other to have the most obscure musical taste. When it’s hip to drink natural wine, the race is on to find the weirdest, naturalest wine of all and brag to friends about it. Why don’t people know when to quit?

— Dale G.

Bear with me on this one, but you can think of it in terms of the Mudslide. Have you ever had a decent Mudslide? I bet you haven’t. I bet you’ve probably once or twice had something vaguely Mudslide-like; something full of ice cream and Hershey’s syrup that features prominently on the menu at restaurants where random crap on the walls passes for decor. But here’s the thing, a basic mudslide (equal parts vodka, Kahlua, and Bailey’s; shaken like crazy and served on the rocks) is a lot more reserved a drink than conventional wisdom indicates. Don’t get me wrong, nobody is going to mistake a Mudslide for a Manhattan any time soon. We are still talking about dessert that gets you drunk. But, at the same time, the popular image of a pint glass filled with frozen sugar is a badly “Flanderized” (i.e., something that has gradually become a parody of itself) version of an otherwise delicious, frosty beverage.

It’s all because somebody once badly Missed the Point. At some time during the dark period of history commonly referred to as “The 1970s,” the proprietors of some yuppie fern bar or another sat around listening to that horrible song about piña coladas, and they somehow concluded that, because some people enjoyed the characteristic sweetness of certain Caribbean cocktails, those same people would derive exponentially greater enjoyment from drinks that were exponentially sweeter and more sugary. This fundamental misstep is a classic example of the “More is Better” fallacy; which we know is a fallacy because it’s the title of a song from the musical adaptation of Mean Girls, and you can rest assured anything that has been on the receiving end of a Broadway sendup qualifies as fallacious.

As the years wore on, the Flanderized version of the thing has supplanted the original as a fixture in human popular consciousness. Thus, the thing you think is the thing isn’t really the thing at all, it’s the crappy imitation version of the thing. That’s darn interesting from a pop pseudo-anthropology standpoint. It also explains the problem of people not “knowing when to quit,” which is usually another case of Missing the Point.

Consider your obscure music example. Obscure tunes are great because life needs a soundtrack that ranges beyond the safe space of the Top 40. Because people fallaciously conclude the obscureness is an end in and of itself, they end up reasoning that if obscure = good, then more obscure = better. Unfortunately, like the people who got it wrong with the Mudslide all those years ago, they’ve directed their focus to the wrong place, and in so doing Flanderized the whole thing.

— DJ Stevens

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A dessert that gets you drunk.
A dessert that gets you drunk.

Dear Hipster:

Although I would tend to agree that cool hipster stuff (music, fashion, food, or whatever) pushes boundaries in a good way, one thing I have noticed time and time again is that avant garde culture always turns into some weird arms race. For example, if facial hair is on trend, it seems like everybody wants to grow a more luxurious beard or a bushier mustache than the next guy. If obscure music becomes popular, people start one-upping each other to have the most obscure musical taste. When it’s hip to drink natural wine, the race is on to find the weirdest, naturalest wine of all and brag to friends about it. Why don’t people know when to quit?

— Dale G.

Bear with me on this one, but you can think of it in terms of the Mudslide. Have you ever had a decent Mudslide? I bet you haven’t. I bet you’ve probably once or twice had something vaguely Mudslide-like; something full of ice cream and Hershey’s syrup that features prominently on the menu at restaurants where random crap on the walls passes for decor. But here’s the thing, a basic mudslide (equal parts vodka, Kahlua, and Bailey’s; shaken like crazy and served on the rocks) is a lot more reserved a drink than conventional wisdom indicates. Don’t get me wrong, nobody is going to mistake a Mudslide for a Manhattan any time soon. We are still talking about dessert that gets you drunk. But, at the same time, the popular image of a pint glass filled with frozen sugar is a badly “Flanderized” (i.e., something that has gradually become a parody of itself) version of an otherwise delicious, frosty beverage.

It’s all because somebody once badly Missed the Point. At some time during the dark period of history commonly referred to as “The 1970s,” the proprietors of some yuppie fern bar or another sat around listening to that horrible song about piña coladas, and they somehow concluded that, because some people enjoyed the characteristic sweetness of certain Caribbean cocktails, those same people would derive exponentially greater enjoyment from drinks that were exponentially sweeter and more sugary. This fundamental misstep is a classic example of the “More is Better” fallacy; which we know is a fallacy because it’s the title of a song from the musical adaptation of Mean Girls, and you can rest assured anything that has been on the receiving end of a Broadway sendup qualifies as fallacious.

As the years wore on, the Flanderized version of the thing has supplanted the original as a fixture in human popular consciousness. Thus, the thing you think is the thing isn’t really the thing at all, it’s the crappy imitation version of the thing. That’s darn interesting from a pop pseudo-anthropology standpoint. It also explains the problem of people not “knowing when to quit,” which is usually another case of Missing the Point.

Consider your obscure music example. Obscure tunes are great because life needs a soundtrack that ranges beyond the safe space of the Top 40. Because people fallaciously conclude the obscureness is an end in and of itself, they end up reasoning that if obscure = good, then more obscure = better. Unfortunately, like the people who got it wrong with the Mudslide all those years ago, they’ve directed their focus to the wrong place, and in so doing Flanderized the whole thing.

— DJ Stevens

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