Thursday, April 22, 2010

Authentic

Now that "cool" has lost credibility we've tried replacing it with "authenticity" or the "real deal". What is real? If a package says "genuine" we know enough to realize it is probably fake. Being someone who feels like you can recognize the genuine article has become the new marker of hipsterdom. We've gone from conspicuous consumption to conspicuous authenticity. That was the starting point of Nora Young's interview with Andrew Potter, author of The Authenticity Hoax, at the Gladstone Hotel. Even The Gladstone itself feels more authentic than it's block partner The Drake Hotel. Why? The Gladstone hosts open local art shows and regular events like a karaoke night and the seasonal Harvest Wednesdays while the Drake plays host to Hollywood phonies and hipster dufus DJ run burlesque shows (not to mention being overrun with 905ers on the make from Thursday to Saturday).

So, do we fetishize the authentic (think of the obsession of artisanal cheese or buying antiques and carefully preserving their "patina" which in other words is just dirt and grime)? Obviously we do, but does that mean everything else is just bullshit? Is there a crisis of meaning? Is there such a lack of genuineness that we covet anything that we feel is more "real"? Probably. I prefer the singer/songwriter to the pop idol in music. I prefer indie films to the Hollywood blockbuster. I do prefer artisanal cheese to mass produced stuff. Is that an oxy-moron?

Once you start scratching at it, the search for authenticity seems like a quest for truth and identity (and other big issues). We say we want truthful politicians but in politics a gaffe is accidentally telling the truth. We want the Real McCoy but rarely get it because in politics like so many other things, authenticity is only how you judge it; what you make of it. In the end, that's all it is. a judgment
call and sometimes being honest with yourself is the toughest call to make.
Note: I'm probably the bigges offender of this but when I look for something authentic I hope it comes from real reasons and not just the appearance of authenticity.

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