A cultural identification and history of a hugely
prevalent, old-fashioned and yet highly modern "twee" movement-from
its roots in the independent film and music culture, through its
omnipresence in youth culture today.
Vampire Weekend, Garden State, Miranda July, Belle and
Sebastian, Wes Anderson, Mumblecore, McSweeney''s, Morrissey,
beards, artisanal pickles, food trucks, crocheted owls on Etsy,
ukuleles, kittens, and Zooey Deschanel-all are examples of a
cultural aesthetic of calculated precocity known as Twee.
In Every Beautiful Thing We Can See (its title borrowed
from a beloved Neutral Milk Hotel song) journalist and cultural
observer Marc Spitz surveys the rising Twee movement in music, art,
film, fashion, food, and politics and examines the cross-pollinated
generation that embodies it-from aging hipsters to nerd girls,
indie snobs to idealistic industrialists. Spitz outlines the
history of twee-the first strong, diverse, and wildly influential
youth movement since Punk in the 70s and Hip Hop in the 80s-showing
how awkward glamour and fierce independence has become part of the
Focusing on its origins and hallmarks, Spitz charts the rise of
this trend from its forefathers like Disney, Salinger, Plath,
Seuss, Sendak, Blume, and Jonathan Richman, to its underground
roots in the post-punk United Kingdom, through the late 80s and
early 90s of K Records, Whit Stillman, Nirvana, Wes Anderson,
Pitchfork, This American Life, and Belle and Sebastian, to the
current (and sometimes polarizing) appeal of Girls, Arcade Fire,
Rookie magazine, and hellogiggles.com.
Revealing a movement defined by passionate fandom, bespoke
tastes, a rebellious lack of irony or swagger, the championing of
the underdog, and the vanquishing of bullies, Spitz uncovers the
secrets of modern youth culture: how Twee became pervasive, why it
has so many haters, and where, in a post-Portlandia world, can it
go from here?