Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Is Urban Infantilization the cool new thing the kids are into?

Trusted correspondent Periqueblend alerts me to this little cultural artifact:


Well, it seems that Canadian label Kelp Records has combined this touchy-feely admiration with an admiration for childhood. You know: the time when playtime was actually a session on the monkey bars and not a euphemism for heavy-petting.

The Ottawa-based brand is issuing the music of local band Hilotrons exclusively for the Fisher-Price toy record player. This means that instead of raving hands aloft to “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” you can get down to “My Number” and “Not There Tonight” playing in some creepy glockenspiel tones. Unfortunately, you’ll only get roughly 25 seconds to drown in the euphoria, as the format can only carry about half a verse and half a chorus of each song. 

The only surprising thing about this is that isn't already happened, because it fits in perfectly with the ongoing trend of URBAN INFANTILIZATION.

URBAN INFANTILIZATION ˈərbən ˌɪnfənˌtaɪləˈzeɪʃən (n) - The trend of youngish city dwellers to participate in activities strongly associated with childhood.

You know what I'm talking about.  Records that only play on a child's turntable.  Musical Chairs Nights at bars. Adults playing with toys. (You could probably do a whole master's thesis on adults and Legos.) Organized dodgeball leagues. Zooey Deschanel (sample tweet: "I wish everyone looked like a kitten." THAT'S WHAT FIVE YEAR OLDS WISH.)

What the fuck?

There are two theories, both of which I came up with.  There may be other theories, but I don't know about them because I didn't think of them.

THEORY #1: Millennials are so narcissistic and were so coddled in childhood that participating in childhood activities takes them back to a better time when they were relentlessly praised for anything they did and everybody got a ribbon.  This, in turn, allows them a brief temporary escape from their lives of unremitting drudgery and hopelessness.

POSSIBILITY THIS THEORY IS CORRECT: I don't know.  What am I, a psychologist?  95%.

THEORY #2: Musical chairs, Legos, wearing a diaper, eating Lunchables, reading Thought Catalog?  Those things may be for children, but they're just plain fun!  WE DO THEM BECAUSE THEY'RE FUN!  Why don't you get off your rocker and have some fun once in a while?

POSSIBILITY THIS THEORY IS CORRECT: Almost none.  5%.  Having a glass of whiskey with your friends in a bar is fun.  Watching 8 episodes of Breaking Bad in a row and then feeling guilty for not going outside all day is fun.  Kicking a red rubber ball and then running around the bases is not fun.  No matter how much you pretend to be enjoying it, your soul is dying inside.  FORCED MIRTH is not fun.

(The current reigning champion of Forced Mirth is Lyft, where you're REQUIRED to fist-bump your driver and, I guess, make happy small chatter while you pay for the privilege of getting driven somewhere.)

If you have other ideas, feel free to share them.  Or if you just want to enjoy your juice box quietly and not disturb others during nap time that's cool too.


Stephen said...

Good theory. When millenials went into the ball pit, mommy stood at the side clapping and shouting encouragment while they swam through it. We, on the other hand, were *sent* to the ball pit, so our relationship to it is necessarily different.

Of course, I'm not sure ball pits existed when we were kids.

periqueblend said...

I spent all morning writing my response to this post on an Etch-a-Sketch but the kerning was embarrassing.

Stoney said...

40goingon....well, certainly not 28.

I think ball pits were post-our age, SS.

Ali Truland said...

Hmmm... what about the theory that millenials are so subconsciously terrified of plummeting off of the economic cliff left for them by previous generations that they revert to infantilization as a defense mechanism?

It doesn't really matter, I guess, and the concept of the article was very interesting, but anything that comes up with a conclusion of "wow look how awful young people are, look how easy they had it" leaves a bad taste in my mouth, because your parents' generation could say the same about you.

So, uh... if you're going to come to a conclusion about the psychology behind some sort of general cultural trend, try not to shit on the people involved in the trend.

Unless the trend is violence - shit on violence all you want.

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