Twee: The Gentle Revolution in Music, Books, Television, Fashion, and Film

Local Bookstore
(okay, Books-a-Million)
What does the word "Twee" mean to you? You may either not even be familiar with it, or all too familiar with it. Those of you who are familiar with the term, but do not self-identify as "Twee;" you may want to sit this review out.

...Are they [the Haters] gone? Good. Now we can talk. First thing's first. What is Twee? Twee is a certain aesthetic under the umberella of "Indie" or "Hipster" - these may be more familiar to you. Specifically, Twee is a little more whimsical, sweeter, and naive, but still a very intellectual version of the Garden Variety Hipster. Think - Hipsters "That Don't Get Out Much" and you're right on track. Much more traditionally, they're just your old fashioned definition of "nerd" - back when that was meant more of a slur. So, in essence, to be Twee is to be more of an underdog. Socially awkward, neurotic, not yet embittered. Sweet, but most people are considered "underdogs" for a reason, which isn't because they're supposed to be completely likeable.
I do self-identify as Twee. I mean, come on - a girl who keeps a blog about the books she reads, wears her hair in a black bob (the more often I'm compared to Zooey Deschanel, the shorter the bob gets), rarely ventures further than her bedroom? And then there's the musical tastes: Morrissey being the darkest thing on my playlist, along with some vintage jazz and They Might Be Giants, and - can't forget this one - Belle & Sebastian? Classic Twee.
But there is something about Twee that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. I don't think it's a bad thing, but if I had to venture a guess, it's probably because a lot of the red flags of "twee-ness" can also be seen as weaknesses; too whimsical, and out of touch. The problem arises when someone thrusts their whole self into it. However, Twee was built on the foundation of escapism. During pivotal moments in history - The Great Depression, The Second World War, The AIDS scare, 9/11, Katrina - some survivors learned to cope by retreating into their childhood memories; or at least into something they feel with their whole hearts to be good. (Once again, the problem arises when you put too much of yourself into the escapism. PeeWee Herman is a good example of this). You could call it Twee, but if you studied psychology, sociology and history, you probably have fancier words for it.
Look at yourself - I'm going to assume that the age demographic of my readers are about my same age. So in doing so, I'm going to guess that you were small children in the 90's and teens around 9/11. Now, if you weren't conscious of the fact while it was happening, 9/11 was a huge social upheaval. Huge. Sure, you always hear that "life changed after that," but if you had to think about specific ways you might have a short, sundry list. It may be in little ways, but trust me that there are things that were totally commonplace before 2002 that we're likely never to see again. The resurgence in analog things like vinyl records, Lisa Frank stickers or any kind of retro toys - none of those things are coincidence. It's a "twee" way to reclaim the lives we had before 9/11 - a form of escapism. It is, of course, far more complicated than that.

Marc Spitz gives you a lot to think about - and a lot of personal research to do (thankfully, in the back of the book is a list of every movie, book, or album mentioned). Maybe some things are up for reader-debate, but I feel like it's pretty on point.
He goes through the decades, pointing out the innovations in music, cinema, fashion, and literature that many of us adore, and explains why they qualify as Twee. This can get overwhelming, especially if it's something that you've never heard of. Or worse yet, if you have heard of it and want the instant gratification of revisiting it. (I'll run through my phone's data plan pretty quickly if I wouldn't pace myself.)
I think, really, my main problem is that the later chapters are going to feel too irrelevant in even a year from now. In the future, readers will have to ignore it, because it's just the nature of the book. Still, it was satisfying to read - especially as someone who thinks of herself as a twee-princess.

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