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Oh god, I need a gummie bear, or ETEWAF Now!

Stop what you’re doing and read the hell out of this right now. Patton Oswalt has written the best treatment to date offering a Hegelian theological approach to saving pop culture through a cosmic death-resurrection apocalypse. This is fabulous stuff. The video here is funny, but the full article must be read by all.


  1. adamsteward wrote:

    I think the most interesting aspect of this essay is the way in which Oswalt both laments and celebrates the death of geek culture.

    Before ETEWAF, there really was a semi-legitimate claim to identity based on unique knowledge. In order to be “Otoku” you really did have to make an existential decision to spend your life in devotion to acquiring a knowledge that was hard to come by. Now that there is no knowledge that is hard to come by, any identity claims made on the basis of one’s knowledge of music, art, food, sports, etc. are just ridiculous. The only poseurs left are those still pretending that what they know makes them special, when everybody knows it.

    Art has always been hijacked by those who would use it as an identity marker. Now that the capitalist-internet complex has rendered niche identities meaningless, there is a new liberty in which we are invited to make and appreciate art.

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Permalink
  2. Fuck you, Patton Oswalt! Who are you to tell me I can’t have zombies and sexy vampires in my breakfast cereal?

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Permalink
  3. Oh, btw. I’m just gonna leave this here.

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 8:04 pm | Permalink
  4. WenatcheeTheHatchet wrote:

    Being a fan of classical guitar music of the sort that I am the problem with any essay on etewaf is the af part. Publishers let all sorts of things go out of print all the time!

    What may change is not the level of access but what level of obscurity is required in order to attain the same level of identity through hard-to-access knowledge. As Parker and Stone of South Park fame noted, goth kids are still wearing black and listening to the same kinds of bands twenty years later even though they “could” be listening to other stuff. Competing versions of retro become the new definition of cool. This isn’t even close to new. In the 1960s aspiring rock guitarists were trading mix tapes and records of 1930s American blues singers despite so many of these rock stars being part of the British invasion. The new stage of the information age makes it more difficult to assimiliate and rebrand the old into something new. In that sense pop culture seems dead because any sense of progress through stylistic differentation withers in the light of the old observation from Ecclesiastes–if you point to something and say “this is new” you find that someone else already came up with it long ago.

    Every generation is forced to recognize that what it thought was daring and innovative was in some sense merely reinventing the wheel.

    Saturday, January 1, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Permalink
  5. kenny chmiel wrote:

    “Culture industry is a term coined by critical theorists Theodor Adorno (1903–1969) and Max Horkheimer (1895–1973), who argued in the final chapter of their book Dialectic of Enlightenment, ‘The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception’ ; that popular culture is akin to a factory producing standardized cultural goods – through film, radio and magazines – to manipulate the masses into passivity; the easy pleasures available through consumption of popular culture make people docile and content, no matter how difficult their economic circumstances.

    Adorno and Horkheimer saw this mass-produced culture as a danger to the more difficult high arts. Culture industries may cultivate false needs; that is, needs created and satisfied by capitalism. True needs, in contrast, are freedom, creativity, or genuine happiness. This was reference to an earlier demarcation in needs by Herbert Marcuse (see Eros and Civilization (1955)).” (Wikipedia)
    When I read the essay I thought of Adorno’s book. The problem with the essay is that it’s advice for this culture is dumb. It will never happen because “corporate capital” owns EVERYTHING and bends EVERYTHING to it’s corporate purposes, no matter how shitty or for that matter how good. The problem is that the individual artists sellout to quickly. What we need is a true underground that can’t be co opted by assholes looking to exploit it. Hence fuck the desire to be famous on a large scale stick to whispering in your closet.

    Monday, January 3, 2011 at 4:16 am | Permalink
  6. WenatcheeTheHatchet wrote:

    Of course high culture is even more inherently consumeristic than low culture. I’m glad to learn Adorno drastically revised his perspective on jazz but that in itself suggests there were some limits to how far we should apply Adorno’s engagement with high and low cultures seeing as he ended up revising what he included in those definitions.

    Monday, January 3, 2011 at 8:58 am | Permalink
  7. Theophilus wrote:

    Or maybe this is a more erudite way of putting the classic hipster lament “I was into X waaaay before it was cool – you know, back when it was authentic and not all corporate.” Sometimes – not always, but sometimes – something goes mainstream because it is so genuinely interesting and is of such high quality that it is capable of sustaining broad appeal. I have trouble seeing how the popular revival of the music of J.S. Bach in the 19th century was a bad thing.

    Monday, January 3, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Permalink
  8. WenatcheeTheHatchet wrote:

    Agreed. The scholarly industry that arose around misinterpreting Bach was not quite so awesome but reviving Bach was a good thing. Amongst the hard-core fans of compositional technique (e.g. Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, et al) Bach was known but it took Mendelssohn to get a high profile composer eager to promote Bach to help get his work back in public view. More people probably got introduced to Stockhausen through the Beatles than through other sources. Pop culture can be a gateway to other things. SOmeone might start reading Batman comics and branch out to Maus or Barefoot Gen. SOmeone could even potentially start with Ranma 1/2 and end up reading Tomine. Sure, it’s not “likely” but it can happen.

    Monday, January 3, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

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