Have we entered the heyday of weird?

Spagett!, Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job!

Three years into the run of Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job!, the popular yet divisive (trust me, T&E is an argument starter) Adult Swim series is riding the crest of a wave. “What the hell?” seems to be the goal of what Tim Heidecker and Eric Warheim bring to cultural landscape, and they are not alone. Let’s call it the New Weird.

“Hey (Shut The Fuck Up) Boy”, Peter, Bjorn and John

Because seriously, once you get Swedish pop on your side, something is happening here.

“Getting the Most Out of Your Child Clown Rental, Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job!

If the stock critique of postmodernism is that it was weird for the sake of weird, this movement is weird for the sake of… what, exactly? The sensability is decidedly lo-fi, almost fetishistic for the Nth generation VHS and public access TV broadcasts of the late 80s/early 90s. It also comes as a product of the first generation that had easy access to image production. There is a feeling of memory to each of the pieces, remembering playing with your Dad’s camera as you watched roughly edited birthday party footage with brash titles and star-wipes.

“Giraffes”, Saturday Night Live

Admittedly I can read melancholy into almost anything, but there is a sense of youth and personal history bound up in this. If Todd Haynes and Steven Soderbergh have spent time this decade trying to recreate the processes of 50s melodrama and 40s war films, styles antecedent to their lives, the practioners of the New Weird are capturing something from their own past. It looks back on a time of youth when nothing made sense- and that was the point.

David Liebe Hart, Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job!

Now, attaching a moral component to what to this point has been a form of light comedy and music video production is certainly flawed logic. But they are drawing on something that has not been addressed by other forms, and indeed couldn’t be until the generation that grew up with it came of age. As a paean to video and public access it also speaks towards the democratization of the image, and serves as a love letter to a certain form of outsider art.

Memory, idiosyncratic art, and universal production of images- Godard would be proud.

Plus Eric Warheim figured out how to make MGMT palatable, and that has to be worth something:

“The Youth”, MGMT