Unbeatable year-end reflection on the insult of our time, from your No. 1 “mids-free” sletter
this is a certified hood classic
I came for the Wonders of Tokyo... I got hooked on the on the jawns intel... Now I guess i'm staying for the gospel. ... well said.
Shit. Do I need to return the pair of Allen Edmonds Lennox derbys (derbies?) I just bought?
I shed tears king
A generous spray of Mids-Be-Gone. But to be fair, Now That's What I Call Mids VR is a blast. #ad
The Allen Edmunds example gives me this delightful mental image of a sinking limbo bar - in other words the threshold for what’s “saucing” ever-rises as culture and technology and globalization marches forward. Capitalism (shoutout mark fischer) demands the quality of experience become greater and greater. What is mid today will be beyond cringe tomorrow. The difficulty is always going up.
I hope this doesn’t take us too off topic but - I’ve been mulling on how technology affects this whole process. In my own field - design - accelerating AI is changing the bar for what’s mid and FAST. Anyone can make top-tier deviant art in seconds. It’s wild. I wonder how long it will take until this tsunami crashes beyond art...to fashion, food, architecture, writing...the definition of “mid” may be about to radically expand.
Love the essay overall, but the end feels like a bit of a trick to iron out the uncomfortable contradictions. In one paragraph, you're telling the story of the precarious millennial couple who bankrupt themselves in search of "highs" and then in the next moment to resolve it, we substitute "joy and community" for "highs" and "consumerism" for "lows" so suddenly the search for "highs" is going to save humanity? But isn't this newsletter still fundamentally about buying the right things?
you were glowing on this one.
Magical capitalist realism!
On the surface this can appear to be another vibes shift kinda piece, but really it’s an astute observational analysis--bravo. To me, it aligns well with the late-theorist Mark Fisher’s incredibly insightful discussions about how late-capitalism (what he calls Capitalist Realism) is so thoroughly embodied in us that mainstream culture has dropped away to a confused jumbled mess of aesthetic chaos to suit Capital over originality. We are not easily able to conceptualize truly new or original things because we are in an era of neoliberal market fundamentalism where the commodification of culture has been hyper realized. Where in the modern world we used to have a sense of the future rushing toward us, in the post-modern world our futures have been canceled. Fisher calls this a slow cancellation of the future.
There’s more from him about subjective time and time periods I won’t belabor here in a comment section, but his points are worth knowing by any cultural critics as well as anyone who hasn’t dipped themselves into this bleak outlook.
The Mids surrounding us is not just a consequence of post-modernism we can will away, but something that comes from within all of us because of the way we’ve been subjugated by Capital. Our internal being purely evolves around Capitalism—what he deems a “business ontology.” We are too tired so we seek out the familiar. Artists don’t have a safe space to just create without Capital pushing down on them with debt and the need for profit. Like I think you point out briefly here, it’s not to say progress is completely gone, but it’s only for those who can afford it. We may enjoy some new culture but we can’t help but think it’s a reflection of something before rather than a catalyst into new ideas.
Fisher’s first book ‘Capitalist Realism’ launches his theories on this, and he goes deeper in ‘Ghosts of My Life.’ There are some great lectures he gives up on YouTube too, of course. Highly recommend some digging if this piece creates a critical theory itch in you.
pair this essay with the doc generation wealth
To be honest, I have a lot of nostalgia for when pretty much the only buds easily available to my young stoner lungs were mids. It made the rare instances where me and my friends could acquire fire loud that much more special. Copping some white widow back in the day was a cause for celebration. Now primo cannabis is readily accessible in any dispensary for the low.
What's more, the strength of weed nowadays is, in my opinion, too powerful, so much so that it's hard to even find mids anymore, at least where I live. When the only strains available are 25% THC or more, it takes a much higher physical toll on the mind and body to be a full time stoner. The sheer potency of the gas can be too much for many people to handle in large quantities. Mids actually were good, in that it kept us satisfied and grounded with a lack of quality that was somehow endearing.
Maybe this is an old man yelling at cloud situation where "back in my day" things were far simpler, quaint and respiratorically tolerable. But ultimately, the fact that weed is so ubiquitously strong makes the act of burning one down paradoxically mid itself!
The same sort of thinking could be applied to luxury goods across the board, in fashion, cars, movies, TV or any other cultural item. I liken it to the fact that Hollywood doesn't make good BAD movies anymore. I think of a mid 90s flick like Point Break, which is an objectively stupid movie about surfing bankrobbers, where Keanu Reeves (love the guy) struggles to deliver anything approaching a good performance as a lawyer turned FBI agent. However, the movie’s inherent badness is what makes it so great. It both takes itself seriously, but at the same time doesn’t. This is the quintessential essence of mid-ness.
There used to be hundreds of good bad movies. Nowadays Hollywood flicks are either lowest common denominator billion dollar Marvel superhero flicks or boring Oscar bait. There is no longer room for the true mid-budget movie, especially dumb comedy or tacky 80s and 90s action flicks.
While there is plenty of "mid" (i.e. mediocre) television and film content available on Netflix and the like, I would consider these mids separate from what we considered mids of the past. Before the term mid became the derogatory term it is today, it seemed to once denote a pleasurable synthesis of both good and bad. Its not a coincidence that true mids have disappeared simultaneously alongside the erosion of the American middle class.
I miss when things were pleasantly mid. We didn’t know what we had until it was gone. Bring back mids.
Bro this is the best essay y'all have written yet. Definitely not mid.
"in the ‘90s a Jeep Grand Cherokee was seen as a “top-notch” whip!!" mid is sounding pretty cool right now!
No offense, but the elitist perspective of this article seems blissfully unaware of the fact that the concept of “mid” is often directed at people who have no idea the term even exists and are just struggling (financially) to survive. To me it is a sign of classist tarnish, and highlights our sociological divides in terms of culture and compassion. Like what of the single mom who has spent her career working two jobs and living at home with her parents just to raise her son? Her life is described as “mid” and she is expected to do more but really it is miserable. I don’t see a nod to her or anyone like her in this analysis.