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…

Whatever.

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.

Notes:
1
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.