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Does vaporwave really 'critique' consumer culture or is that just what people say to sound smart?

cryptfrog

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People always say vaporwave critiques consumerism, but if so, how does it actually do so? Does a ten foot solid gold McDonalds logo critique McDonalds if the creator of said statue says it does?
 
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vaporwavemaster1

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これは興味深い質問です。アーティストによって違うと思います。すべての蒸気波ミュージシャンには独自の意図があり、その意図を認識するのは難しい場合があります。一部のミュージシャンは、消費主義を批判し、ドローンループと周囲のノイズで不気味な品質を達成しようとしています。しかし、スラックボーイや深夜のパティなど、昨日のモールは今日の世界で広く普及しているオンラインコマースよりも共同で健全であると信じており、若者のショッピングセンターに敬意を表しています。蒸気波のために蒸気波を作成するサードパーティがあります。もちろん、すべてのサブジャンルが資本主義を批判しているわけではありません。エコージャムなどの一部は、モールや製品とはほとんど関係がありません。モールのソフトアーティストがモールを持っているのか、モールを始めているのかを判断するのは難しいかもしれませんが、特定のアルバムを何度も繰り返し聴けば、その意図は十分に明確であるはずです。モールを愛することとそれらを嫌うことの間の分裂は、もちろん、ユートピアの仮想と偽のユートピアの間の分裂を生み出したものです。うまくいけば、これはあなたのために物事を片付けるのに役立ちました。
 
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Deleted member 1930

nah, it's just shit people say to sound smart. hipster bull
 

kliffi

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i think the only obvious anti-capitalist element of a lot of vaporwave songs (can't speak to what a lot producers are thinking) is the flying in the face of copywrite protections (or are copywrite protections a regulation?). the overload nostalgia might be inflected with some resentment for how capitalism takes on and disposes of cultural moments/images for profit, but that's just a mood
 
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cryptfrog

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I'm glad this question didn't start a flame war ;)
Actually that's a good point about nostalgia which I hadn't considered, I had only really thought of nostalgia as celebrating consumerism and mainstream culture of the past, but you're right, I guess I got confused by thinking "consumerism = capitalism".
I'd like to be able to find a way to take this style of music a bit further away from nostalgia though to be honest, I wonder if you could make a half vaporwave, half robotic punk album, kind of saying 'yeah I am sampling old stuff but I am doing so simply for my own hedonistic pleasure, now I'm gonna do whatever I want right here right now'.
 
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it depends. web in start vs commercialization and copyrights.
utopia vs. market, money, profit.
 
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Walk in the Rain

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Weren't a lot of early vaporwave artists open communists? Regardless of that, then the genre has clear influences from leftist cultural analysts, like Mark Fischer.

However, the aesthetics seem to have veered into meta-irony, at least that's how I see it being consumed in places like youtube. The famous vaporwave 'music videos' are not criticizing capitalism or nostalgia, they are rather indulging in a self-aware nostalgia. You can be critical of something while still wanting to indulge in it.
 
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dyonisus-wave dropping when?
 
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SpheralBloom

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Maybe this is true for a couple albums, but I feel like it actually embraces consumer culture, given the way how old commercials :MacTonight: , products :pepsimaN:, and the imagery of cities/malls are utilized in the genre.
You could say that the "corruption" (slowed down, reverb, EQ) of the samples along with the imagery is supposed to show how capitalism is actually not all goodie gumdrops, but is instead corrupted beneath the surface. But that's not the vibe I get.
All of the reverb, imagery, and deep voices makes me feel that it's actually reminiscing on when those old commercials played, when malls were super active, and what music was playing back then. It doesn't seem to have much to do with critiquing the corporate corruption of consumer capitalism at all. It feels conspicuously pretentious at times.
For me, vaporwave has always been more about feeling sadly nostalgic for a time that isn't my own, rather than protesting black friday or something lol
 
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For me, vaporwave has always been more about feeling sadly nostalgic for a time that isn't my own, rather than protesting black friday or something lol
got you. that, and also, times when "everything was simplier", when, after clearer look, it seems it is always the same - when there is not one problem, there is another, and so on, in circle...
 
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Chao Tse-Tung

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I think that it absolutely can be a critique on capitalism, specifically hyper-consumerism and whatnot, and I'd argue a lot of shit like 2814 is invoking a cyberpunk-esque theme, which is in itself a critique on capitalism, but I don't think that sells it for the whole genre or anything. I'd argue that the main critiques in the genre are against not capitalism as a whole, but instead against the current state of consumerism specifically. It invokes a certain dreary nostalgia of "look what they took from us," in the bright non-personal advertisements full of people, shopping malls, and places of consumerism that used to have 'character' and be filled with color and designs juxtaposed with our modern-day world of overbearing minimalism and targeted ads specifically about the products.
In general, I think vaporwave is a critique primarily on the aesthetic of capitalism, or more specifically the perceived dying of it.
Another factor I can think of: I watched a video recently about the death of shopping malls, and it talked about the concept of malls not just as consumerist hellscapes to buy-buy-buy, but also as a Third Space for people to exist, as opposed to the First of their home and the Second of their work or school. As a zoomer, I never experienced this, but I imagine the nostalgia of vapor lies not necessarily in the capitalist elements of the things that it so enjoys to indulge in the aesthetics of, but instead what they embodied to people. Malls and retro looking food courts and restaurants were places to hang out with your friends, people aren't nostalgic for buying things. Except in the case of advertisements, where they remind people of when the economy was still doing pretty good and you could buy the things you wanted. But then, things never really were perfect, and you can argue that the slow droning, repetition, and distortion of classic vapor was an attempt to show that this nostalgia is truly "nostalgia for a time that never was."

All in all, short conclusion of my thesis is that vaporwave serves primarily as a criticism of the evolution of Capitalist aesthetics, which through discussion could be extrapolated out to a full critique of capitalism, but I don't see it making any of those bigger-picture arguments in itself, though it can occasionally hint at them.
Overall, though, I'd also like to say that it's heavily artist dependent, I'm sure that there are plenty of hypercaptitalist artists who just genuinely love consumerism.
 
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Vaporwave can be used as a critique of capitalism, as any musical genre can. Saying ''Vaporwave is a critique of capitalism'' is like saying ''metal is satanic''.
Metal CAN be satanic, and a lot of metal genres have their roots in such subcultures but it doesn't mean metal as an entire genre is satanic.
 
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Jared

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Vaporwave is a psyop made by companies to utilize false nostalgia asethetics with the mask of anti-consumerism to subtly ingrain the products in your head . Do you notice that most vaporwave aesthetics come from companies that still exist today? This like i said ,is to induce false nostalgia among people , as no matter your age you still most likely will feel the feeling.
 
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AnHero

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Lawl, I've never really cared about that. I like it cause it sounds trippy and nostalgic. I'm the kind of guy who plays it sort of fast and loose with 'intent' in music. I would masturbate with a funeral dirge playing if it sounded like masturbation music to me.
 

IsaiahQuinn54

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You can make Vaporwave about anything, naturally some of it is going to be criticizing Capitalism / Consumerism / whateverthefuckism but from what I can tell, Vaporwave art and designs are generally an expression and satire of people's utopian memories of their past. Oftentimes these memories are presented as being distorted and broken down, and references to Corporate corruption are a part of that. If there's a giant statue of the McDonald's arches in some Vaporwave art, it's likely because the person who made it has fond memories of going to McDonald's as a kid. Vaporwave isn't really about one thing, but if I were to summarize it in one idea I'd say it's contrasting nostalgia with reality. So yeah, Vaporwave can critique consumerism, and a lot of it does, but it's a lot less simple than that and there are definitely some people who only say it to sound smart lmao
 
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Modulator of Frequencies

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I personally view vaporwave less as a hard criticism of capitalism/consumer culture and rather a satirical observation. Obviously, vaporave can invoke different feelings depending on the specific vibe an artist is going for, but I tend to find that a lot of it is more poking fun at the culture surrounding capitalism (especially in the 80s/90s). I think that can be a sort of political statement in and of itself, but often you'll run into those who end up taking what they're attempting to say the wrong way, as sometimes using humor to convey ideologies has the opposite effect of what you're attempting to actually say.
I feel like if those who made vaporwave really wanted to push an anti-capitalist mindset, they'd make their music sound a lot different. But that's just me.
 
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Punp

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For those of you playing along at home, we've got:

  • Vaporwave is a critique of capitalism
  • Vaporwave is a celebration of capitalism
  • Vaporwave is a critique of consumerism
  • Vaporwave is a celebration of the culture of consumerism
  • Vaporwave is a celebration of the memory of the culture of consumerism
  • Vaporwave is a celebration of nostalgia
  • Vaporwave is a critique of nostalgia
  • Vaporwave has been adopted by capitalism to endorse products

Or, summed up in another way:

  • Vaporwave enthusiasts consumed the Pepsi before they were vaporwave enthusiasts
  • Pre-(vaporwave enthusiasts) don't consume the Pepsi as a rejection of consumerism
  • This anti-consumerism backed by a consumerism nostalgia leads to Vaporwave aesthetic
  • Vaporwave enthusiasts consume the Pepsi (ironically)
  • Vaporwave enthusiasts don't consume the Pepsi (post-ironically, second enlightenment)
  • Vaporwave enthusiasts consume the Pepsi (post-post-ironically)
 
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レオタルドのフェティッシュ

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tbh i think it just simply meant to be a subculture that capitalizes (no pun intended) on neonostalgic tenets, of which would become common for the remainder of the 2010s
 
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to me, it is "when capitalism was simplier and wasnt all-encompassing"
like, "miss when dystopia was dystopia and not reality" [sic], somewhere in Bubblegum Crisis - Konya wa Hurricane (English Subtitles) , LazyGamerNyx comment section

edit: found the actual quote:
"When Cyberpunk was still a cool dystopian vision and not a depressing dystopian reality" -
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y48ZwmVF-2M&list=RDwckZcVFLU24&index=22&pp=8AUB
 
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