Beer and Pavement

Meme Away: Braffed

Posted in Manifesto by SM on February 11, 2010

A meme is developing1

There’s been some good talk around these parts lately. That hipster who hadn’t heard of Pavement struck a collective nerve. It seems young folks are as unaware of the context surrounding their blog bands as olds are ignorant to the latest bands and musical trends. These are important issues that must be explored. First up: Zach Braff and why he hates America.

Consider this (the scene essentially ends around a minute and a half, so don’t watch it past that point unless you think Zach Braff is hot)…

A cute girl2 offers you her headphones. You listen for all of ten seconds and your life is changed forever. Or something like that.

Many point to this scene as the end of indie rock as we once knew it. A band that was personal and private was finally exposed to the masses and it all blew up. Suddenly every jackass with a wifi connection was reading Pitchfork and downloading the latest Mp3’s from Napster3. No longer were bands discovered in clubs, on college radio, in record stores, or wherever. Once Braff4 broke The Shins, folks couldn’t get enough of the band…or at least enough of that one song playing on Natalie Portman’s iPod in that one movie with the guy from Scrubs.

Braffites loved the Shins for all the wrong reasons. They didn’t care that James Mercer and co. sounded like the Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, or Guided By Voices5. The irony of their place in Sub Pop’s lineup among the legends of grunge was lost on them. The context of the original video for the song had no meaning to the frat boys and jock straps with man-crushes on Zach Braff. (Look below.)

In the video, there are scenes reminiscent of album covers by The Replacements, Hüsker Dü, and The Minutemen, among others. Do you think any of the bros who watched that scene gave a shit about any of those bands? Hell, they didn’t know who those bands were. They just knew that chicks like Natalie Portman liked that kind of music and it could help to show their sensitive sides6.

Suddenly, indie became a mainstream genre, a genre with which one could label tracks on iTunes. There were as many backwards hats at shows as there were black-rimmed glasses. The bands and music that was once a secret was now there for everyone. It wasn’t about finding that rare Girls vs. Boys/Guided By Voices7 split 7″ anymore. It’s about creating your own personal brand…


What was once private and truly appreciated by just a few has now been prostituted out by the likes of Braff and his bros to the masses with no deeper meaning than “it sound cool.” This is what I like to refer to as being “Braffed.” Braffed is when a bunch of d-bags get the inside scoop on a band or movement in the underground and claim it as their own for no other reason than they think it will make them look cool. They have no context for the music. They don’t know the history. It’s just something they can post on their MyFace page as if it were a badge of honor. F that.

The real problem a Braffed band or album causes is the musical ignorance in our children8. Music becomes “just music” and “a little bit of everything” becomes a musical genre. The message of a song is lost as the Braffication pairs the music with images of Volkswagen and iPods. Braffing scares me like no other scourge ever has9.

How do you feel about Braffing? Does it worry you that something you once cherished as your own would soon be loved by all the meatheads on Jersey Shore10? What’s something you once thought was only special to you but is now soiled by a major Braffing?

Please tell your Braffing stories. The only way we will put an end to Zach Braff and his evil plan to destroy America is to share our experiences. Feel free to post the gory details in the comments or post them on your own blog11. We must stop the Braffing before it’s too late.

Actually, it’s been a meme long before anyone even knew what a “meme” was, but we’re exploring here.
2This is completely subjective, but Natalie Portman is not unattractive. In fact, she looks pretty good next to Devendra Banhart.
3Yes, I realize that there are better examples here and that using “Napster” dates me.
4This was long after McDonald’s and Scrubs broke them by also using “New Slang (when you notice the stripes)”.
5Let’s be honest. These new “fans” were unaware that the Beach Boys ever did anything important beyond singing about girls and beaches and they’ve never heard of the other two.
6When they weren’t practicing date rape.
7That’s twice with the Guided By Voices in one post. I must have them on the mind.
8I am going off the deep end here.
9Aside from AIDS, terrorism, global climate change, the Tea-Bagger movement, etc.
10Or at the very least be used inappropriately as Snooki get hit in the face for the fourth time this season.
11That and it will extend the meme.

7 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. builderofcoalitions said, on February 17, 2010 at 4:17 am

    All that proves is that the Grammies are a sham. They were Braffed from the get-go. Besides, his Grammy was basically for the year’s best mixed tape which I’m sure it wasn’t.

  2. p said, on February 17, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    I hear what you’re saying, but in the end, i don’t think i agree: first, why conclude that the only reason that “Braffites” say they like the music is to look cool? Can’t there be good reasons to like certain music that are distinct from the music’s place in a historical line of music? Regardless of its historical significance, music can be uplifting, moving, comforting, just plain catchy, etc. Don’t you have good reasons to appreciate and love some works of art even though you are not an art historian and do not see all the historically significant aspects of a piece of art? Second, why think that Braffites threaten anything of meaning to you? Should people who truly understand the history of painting feel threatened by the fact that people go see paintings in museums and decide whether a piece of art is beautiful, pleasing, moving, frightening, disgusting, etc?

  3. p said, on February 17, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    on second thought … i think i took you too seriously! read it too fast …

  4. builderofcoalitions said, on February 18, 2010 at 3:46 am

    Maybe you did take me too seriously, but you make a good point. I don’t know that context and historical perspective is always necessary to truly enjoy music ‘authentically.’ Sometimes we listen to something just because we like it or it moves us in some way. I get that. I have no problem with just liking music.

    What I have a problem with is losing that personal part of music to over-saturation of a song or band. And it’s not because of screaming 13-year-olds. It’s because of people who like the music because they’re told to like it.

    Sure, this post was tongue-in-cheek, but it’s an annoyance nonetheless.

  5. carriethewade said, on February 19, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    I think you’ve pinpointed what can be so obnoxious about music, and much of the hype surrounding it. And that is the sense that there’s some “authoritative” person who tells people what they should and shouldn’t like. And perhaps this is indicative of a lack of developed personal taste that one can be so susceptible to the opinions of others…or culturally “easy” as one might call it. It’s much like the same way some people, though disliking the initial taste of coffee will continue to consume the stuff until they become dependent on it (maybe this is a bad example), but I think what makes “hipster” such a pejorative term is the sense that these people just like certain things because they’re momentarily considered “cool” because they’ve been told so.

    It’s also a problem I’ve developed that I find it really hard to genuinely like something that’s so hyped, like any number of p4k buzzbands. I also have developed issues with assigning numerical value to a piece of entertainment, because it ultimately should come down to what jingles your jangle. And this is what I strive for as a critic, is to communicate WHY I like or dislike certain things, not to assign some value to them for other people to feel like they should like or dislike. For me, it’s about offering a perspective.

  6. builderofcoalitions said, on February 19, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Right on, Carrie! Although, there’s a lot to unpack here. I might have to address this in a future post. (Damn you for making me think about this stuff!)

    I don’t know whether I despise hipsters or frat boys more. Hipsters follow a trend b/c they’re told it’s cool. Jackasses with popped collars follow a combo of trends and cliches b/c someone told them that’s cool. Neither group sees things through a critical eye. They just do b/c it’s cool.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: