Friday, January 1, 2016

Embracing Self-Deprecation With Mumford & Sons' "Hopeless Wanderer"

So I found what I'm going to write about today... and it is awesome.

I'm wrestling over whether to write before or after the video, but spoiling the cast of this video would just be cruel, so please, plug in your headphones and enter fullscreen. It will be well worth the time spent:

If you notice, the video takes a full minute to reveal who we're watching, and hiding beneath that glorious plethora of facial hair are Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Ed Helms, and Will Forte. Now, that's what I call comedic tension. With the arrival of this music video, and the stitches in which it had me, I am forced to see Mumford & Sons in a new light—a light of humility and humor, self-awareness and understanding.

I've enjoyed the music of Mumford & Sons despite myself, trying to keep them at arm's length. Maybe that's because my beard is more sad than suave, or because, while I dig the banjo, the sound takes over, and everything sounds about the same on the instrument... to this listener. But goodness is their music catchy, and yes I would dress like that if I could afford it, or pull it off. Bow ties are cool.

What I'm leading us towards here is that adjectival atrocity of the English language, the word "hipster," its vague connotations and elusive definition. Merriam-Webster defines the term as "A person who is unusually aware of and interested in new and unconventional patterns," Which I guess works. I think in terms of ostentatious irony, or smug eccentricity. The creation of Self as parody is inherently pretentious, and mustaches are a dangerous affectation in that regard.

Again, jealousy may be a factor here, but this video, in all its homoerotic glory, smashes preconceived notions into a realm without "fashion glasses." I cannot get into Wilco, I think, because I pick up on a vibe that they're already enough into themselves for all of us. But Mumford & Sons put the issue to bed—I say, "Alright guys, I'm in." I can't even use the word "parody," because this video does not mock or deride, but exalt.

In self-deprecation we find common ground across differences. So what if your Nike High-Top sneakers are my Ariat Round-Toe boots, why be smug? The more entrenched your facade and persona in the mode to which you belong, the more important character and humility becomes. After all, laughing at yourself is always more fun than laughing at others.

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