Metamodern Culture in 2020

We are seeing more Metamodern Film Reviews:

Alien: Covenant review – Ridley Scott’s latest space exploration feels all too familiar
“Fassbender is back, too, as the creepy deadpan robot who glides around in the style of a Jeeves/Lecter hybrid, wearing a tight-fitting outfit apparently made out of nylon, and in which he appears as flat-fronted in the trouser department as Barbie’s boyfriend Ken.”

Funny film review, but important in it’s truer context! It is an example of more realism-based reviews where appearances of style, clothing, and socialization of characters appear to be the new measuring sticks of both the review and the sci-fi films for the Millennial Generation. I have seen much more violent attacks on films, actors, and books where those not fitting the straight and narrow politically correct culture are shamed, fired, and cancelled. Such is the nature of the new Metamodern Culture here today.

This is all about the new Metamodern culture that has been taking over America since 2010. Today it is in full swing. Such a change is generational, for the young people seek a complete rejection of Postmodern views of film, art, and music the past 50 years should it fail to measure up to modern realistic cultural yardsticks imposed by them. It’s as if the escapism is utterly rejected in entertainment today, replaced by some new social safety net of the ‘groupthink’ needed to protect them from the horror of reality and isolation.

Yet in these views, there is some expectation that entertainment and culture fit the modern paradigm and new global message of the youth that all messaging now fit the newly conceived, or more aptly perceived, Humanism, Political Correctness, and Modernism that’s now slowly returning to Western and American culture. That is the expectation, not the reality.

What’s fascinating is that, as older film makers, book writers, and script writers come under this new microscope, even they won’t be able escape these Metamodern trends and tropes until all these films and their directors get sucked into the cultural Metamodern bubble and must perform to survive or else face rejection at the theater by this new critical generation of viewers. I predicted this in 2012 and now in 2020 its come into the light. Those that are perceived as ‘phobic’ or racist will be obliterated from the world, their identity stripped away, and their work demonized, forever (at least till this generation fades into history). Such is the new self-appointed Moral Authority of Metamodernism kids taking hold of society today.

I feel that what’s changing as we move from Postmodern culture (1965-2010) and embrace Metamodern culture (2010 beyond) is less a rejection of “escapism” in film, music, and art and more about the fact that the younger generation sees these movies and stories as completely disingenuous from the perspective of the more Humanistic modern cultural view now hold dear. For anything or anyone that is part of the ‘older’ generations now is fully judged by them. This wasn’t so much a problem for the Baby Boomers Hippies in 1965 when they were deconstructing Modernism.

That is all part of the younger generations early need to explore themselves within the new social context, questioning who they are and their value systems in a bipolar political world that’s been full of con-artists and crooks for some time, where people used to look at Human suffering and so often selfishly turn away. In 2020 they seek authenticity yet seem at a loss to capture it. They seek their Humanity, not in themselves but in the larger society they cannot find. In that authenticity ironically society in fear cannot live up to those standards. And so they will celebrate artifice more than any other generation before them.

Metamodernism is again the reaction against the past that has now culminated in the failed political and cultural climate we have today. Today’s world is a culmination of the works of the violent and morally relevant Baby Boomers their parents, and 50 years of Postmodern rejection of government, community, morality, justice, and failed institutions which they see as never having had any real value. Their parents, the Boomers, embraced of money and the rugged individualism that Postmodernism once portrayed. But their children can now only reject it.

The youth are nothing like what came just 10 years ago. For they and their Metamodernism see the failed paradigm of Postmodern America yet in creative film and books which cannot seem to capture their new moral vibrancy and need for control over others. They desire connections within the culture and a greater, more just society, even beyond themselves and their parent’s views. And yet they wholly embrace the evils of technology that is now replacing it all. They seek through realism and rejection of fantasy tropes that sense of Truth about how they all connect culturally, as they know it’s there and needed. But the institutions that once supported ethics and morality and justice prior to 1970 have all long ago been torn down, leaving GenZ and with the Millennials with no historical framework, just like their parents had in 1965.

This they sense in themselves but have not yet fully perceived in history. So they reject all of history and so struggle to define anything new. For history holds identity more than they know. Their Humanity perceives something is not right though they can’t quite grasp why or when it happened in history as they were all born after 1980 when Postmodernism was in full force in American culture already. They had not the ability to see before 1970 the Modernism that was destroyed they now struggle so violently to reinvent. Its moral justices and positive hope they struggle to reinvent in Metamodernism’s riots and street violence today. Yet in this new cultural war they still hold a candle to the New Morality only they can claim. It is a long road they must travel without History’s moral lessons and guidance they reject.

As we move forward in this new Metamodern America I expect we will experience more of this sort of cynical view of film and art where only comic relief and mockery in what should be serious film has any sort of true relevancy to this generation. Once we break through this trend I expect more Human-centered emotional drama where plots are less good versus evil or man versus nature and more man versus himself. Until they accept their own darkness, however, nothing will feel relevant for decades to come. For Metamodernism’s struggle isnt the new moral and just world they are rebuilding, its the struggle to find themselves and judge themselves fairly.

Thus begins a renewed Modernism in film and books where the goal is moral authenticity in people but within the context of the larger social play, not their private creative selves like Postmodernism portrayed. The message driven home is “yes we are good people and government is good too and can serve us all to make us all better and the world a fairer place”. Postmodernism didn’t have that message after 1965. But kids today do.

Again that’s what Modernism was in America from 1900-1965….the idea that we are all here to use our hearts and minds to build a better world and better government that serves us as a “group”, not just as individuals making money and pillaging the system for profit as today. That’s the old Postmodern view that is dying as these relics of Postmodern tropes slowly get dismantled. And so kids are revisiting Modernism’s meaning again, not just through the promise of Digital Technology but will increasingly do so socially and culturally coming up.

As an author and first year Generation X’er (born in 1965 the year Postmodernism began), I’m very happy and yet sad to see these trends shift. I’ll miss the deep dark psychology and spiritual freedom in Postmodern film the past 50 years. But I don’t miss the heavy drug use, parting, destruction of the family, and incredible violence pf the 1970’s.

I am happy to see the end of that selfish and destructive era die. For the kids today will forge a new Humanistic culture that I’ve been waiting to see since my Grandparents passed on, where family, values, integrity, and social norms return to the society as a whole and people’s rights and morality and participation in that larger society also has supporting value beyond those of just the rugged individual.

But sadly, the price paid for such elevated Humanity will be fear of words, fear of ourselves, shaming, cancelling, phony judgement, and a complete destruction of creativity. For in a politically correct, shaming culture, authoritarian society Humanity and its inherent flaws have no place. If Humanity cannot have flaws then Human creativity dies a bitter death.

Thirty years from now if you read my words, you may see my prediction sadly has come true you may wonder how I came to see this strange future unfold. I hope I am wrong. But if I am right, I will have warned future artists of the changes, good and bad, yet unfolding the next 50 years in the new Metamodern America.

– the Author



Leave a Reply