Warm, honest “Tumblr Girls” is an idyllic glimpse of millennial angst

G-Eazy joins Tove Lo in exploring the other side of la vie young and restless

There’s much to be said about how frustrating the Mllennial generation, we preternatural savants of all things digital, with our ADHD, our self-absorption, and our self-destructive social media addictions, can be. I myself tend to bristle at criticisms leveled at young people by our older friends, and it won’t be long before we face the criticism of an up-and-coming generation of young folks. But the truth is, we’ve known little else.

Sometimes I feel like reminding my baby boomer friends that we weren’t here for your sexual revolution, or for your Woodstock, and we certainly missed out on your years of experimentation with drugs and alcohol (years which apparently nearly destroyed half of you, from what I hear.) The American Civil Rights movement of the ’70s was communicated to us mostly through movies like “Eyes on the Prize,” screened for us in our high school classrooms, and more recently by films like “Selma,” a very new classic that many of us apparently missed to go see “American Sniper” instead. The Vietnam War is, for us, an abstraction, and most of us young Americans have no experience with war at all and certainly never a war on the home-front. Our “Great Recession” is the closest we’ve come to real destitution, and although that moment in history did very nearly wreck a good many of us, we appear to be coming through the worst of it. But as the Millennials slowly but surely take hold of the reins of this economy, our perspectives are slowly but surely rising up and becoming known, as filtered through the lens of our predominant medium, the internet.

I suppose G-Eazy is the latest artist I’ve found that draws inspiration from his experience of the digital lifestyle and worldview, and the video for his song “Tumblr Girls” dives into that singular world with sexiness and a hint of critique. The song reminds me a bit of “Stay High,” the new song by Tove Lo whose remix by Hippie Sabotage, helped vault the song onto our pop radio dial, in all it’s sumptuous production and exploration of a substance-fueled youthful dating scene. The song “Tumblr Girls” is peppered with references to alcohol and drug use, and the video cycles through images of young women backed by the beautiful San Francisco beaches and skyline. The song is a portrait of a difficult relationship with one of the “Tumblr Girls,” a type defined by their “skinny waists and drug habits”, and a moderately self-aware portrait of the difficulty of dating in the modern world. Our generation is struggling to understand itself, both professionally and personally, and I love that songs like this exist, helping young people take an unblinking look at our experience of the world we are inheriting.

Growing up is not all sunshine and flowers, though I won’t deny that it has absolutely and positively been the time of my life. I’m solidly entrenched now in my late twenties, and I feel young, but my world certainly continues to change. I’ve settled down a lot since the start of my twenties, and the kinds of adventure I’m looking for these days has evolved quite a lot. It’s funny, but the world drenched in online media has become pretty routine to me. You run into “Tumblr Girls” now and then, I suppose, but I also find a few “off-the-grid” types, more than a few Instagram-obsessives, and of course the people whose Facebook personality runs absolutely and completely opposite to their reality. Part of growing up these days is defining for ourselves a healthy relationship with our partners, whomever that may be, and with our online media, not to mention with the chemical temptations of our social lives. And it’s not easy, but that’s the story of our lives. The Millennial sexual revolution occurs in between Twitter status updates, the Millennial civil rights movement  through online livestreams and smartphone video clips, and the Millennial drug revolution (rightly so) doesn’t get much play on our social media feeds.

The video for this song is a tempting fabrication, an attractive one to be sure, full to overflowing with beautiful and scantily-clad young women. There’s a level of sexual objectification here that some may “object” to (ha… get it?), not to mention the ever-present spectre of cultural appropriation that could equally be leveled at any other white rapper. Taken on its own terms though, “Tumblr Girls” is a relatively sophisticated piece of cultural commentary. We don’t date in the same ways that we used to, nor do we suffer in the same ways that we used to. The video’s brilliance, I think, lies in how it contrasts the romanticized beauty of our on- and off- line personas with the very real struggles that we don’t always show to our friends or family or followers. The song to me is about just trying to make sense of it all, and it succeeds in presenting to us a challenging Millennial artistic adulthood, spiked with vodka soda and chain-smoking, all in pursuit of something or someone indelible.

The song is an ode to coming up in the early years of modernity, embracing the ephemeral, living, loving, and making the most of it, and that’s exactly the kind of thing I like. To all of y’all reading, lots of love, and cheers! Thanks for listening :).

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