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BOHEMIA: An Introduction to Gen-Z’s Identity Crisis

Bohemia no longer represents what it used to; it’s merely a reflection of what it used to be and has assumed a new identity.

By Josh Ilano

Scroll through an Instagram filter list or the Target wishlist of any prospective college freshman—at least once you’ll see the phrase “Bohemian.” At first glance it seems like another annoying millennial co-opted neologism like “cheugy,” but it’s much more than that. Bohemia and its commodified “BoHo” aesthetics have penetrated the identity zeitgeist in ways that sever its head. 

As a fellow Zoomer, I’ve observed that we are attracted to two separate aesthetics in academia: the Metropolitan and the College Town. Either the calm, small town whose prosperity is defined by its proximity to said college [think CSU, Wyoming State, BYU] and then the opposite, the college whose proximity to its city is where the appeal lies [think DePaul, USC, NYU]. For the most part, college has turned into a monolith of identity. It could be for prestige or for research, but what fascinates me is this phenomenon with colleges and their attraction towards Bohemianism. 

18 Ways to Embrace Boho Style in Your Home | Better Homes & Gardens

To clarify, beyond the Queen anthem, “A Bohemian is simply an artist or “littérateur” [intellectual] who, consciously or unconsciously, secedes from conventionality in life and in art” [1]. Think Vincent Van-Gogh with a canvas  strapped to his back or Ernest Hemingway in some Parisian night-club. It’s a counterculture movement seceding from the qualms of modern society, and with any counter culture we have the gatekeepers of said culture. It’s when members of a culture restrict the consumption of their object of affection by the people in the “out-group”— hence, gatekeeping. I attribute society’s apologia to gatekeeping as a defense mechanism deployed to the underbelly of modern markets. Our modern consumerist culture has turned Bohemian culture into a commodity. Let me repeat that—we’ve turned a culture into a commodity. Bohemians like Van-Gogh have been ultra-romanticized in their ventures that we’ve created an environment that fosters artistic dishonesty (i.e., Phoebe Buffay from the sitcom Friends). A character that is able to rent a New York apartment, with a hundred-thousand dollar appraisal, off of a masseuse’s salary. The only reason we attribute this character to Bohemia is specifically because of her personality; we’ve conflated personality with culture.  We can use a character like this to compare to real-life bohemians like artist Jean-Michel Basquiat whose apartment reflects the authentic fringe to bohemia. It’s Home Goods compared to Goodwill; it’s Whole Foods compared to Trader Joe’s. While Buffay adheres to the lines in which NBC/Universal has decided appropriate, it dilutes the image in totality. Basquiat’s apartment was by necessity, but Buffay’s was for aesthetic. 

Many economic philosophers and theorists have this concept of commodity: that soon all aspects of life, culture, and even art will enter the space of commerce. This very idea carries over to Bohemia. With any fringe culture it’s only a matter of time until we cherry-pick aspects of the subculture to create a bite-sized version of it. Like vinyl to the audiophile or the chemex to the coffee aficionado, social media calls out to the content consumer that you, too, can participate, all you need is the right loose-knit, fat-thread afghan on your blanket ladder. However, this commodified Bohemia differs from the atypical artist. I’m talking about the simplified “Boho Aesthetic” or what I call “Pinterest Bohemia.” The adulterated jewelry accounts and filters. It’s an aesthetic obsessed with eclecticism, but, if anything, it’s eclecticism with a lack of follow through. “Boho” is putting a tie on tarot.  

Things like macrame, self-love quotes in Helvetica, hyper-specific regulations to coffee, VSCO film, or Yerbamate. Objects and activities that are just atypical enough to feel unique but not enough to stick out like a sore thumb. This is the plastic cover that collegiate begging panders to. It’s a simple 1-2-3 of exposed brick, lattes, and Edison bulbs that plagues Millennial Hipsters already; it has just been repackaged for the Zoomer. We’ve turned a culture of art into variables, in which I’ve derived an equation. 

A Kitschy Living Situation + A Niche Obsession (that is not actually niche) = Pinterest Bohemia

Examples Include:  Apartment Lofts + A24 

Van/Bus Life + The Arctic Monkeys 

Nomadic Couch Surfing + Astrology 

This dialectic has made me declare that regardless of rural or metropolitan college aspirations, they will pander the same exact way, they just differ in aesthetic form. This makes sense as perhaps college is the greatest microcosm of Bohemia. Thousands of young people following their dreams, either first broke or completely reliant on parental support. It’s the breeding ground for this culture to thrive, so we are marketed it—marketed a simplified version to decorate our dorms with or idolize in films like Before Sunrise. We rely on vaguely European objects and staples as a fastpass towards originality. 

But what does this say about the consumer? How does this insatiable consumption of these commodities expose our deepest desires?  

Gen Z is in the midst of an identity crisis: a crisis in individuality. Social media has given an entire generation the option to be more than transparent, to be known. We all walk the line between fitting the trendy social norm and finding something unique to define ourselves—and that line is razor-thin. It’s the same reason the binary of the Breakfast Club social archetypes have carried in our culture since the ‘80s regardless of their lacking prevalence. I hypothesize this is why the idea of Bohemia has been on the rise since the late 1800s. It’s college students seeing Hemingway and Van-Gogh and trying to emulate their lives because they interpolate their lives into the ultimate signifier of success. That if we subscribe to this BoHo culture we can be as prominent as they were. 

Since Van-Gogh, the disparity of what has been considered “Bohemia” has deviated so remarkably it touches bastardization. The entire idea of democratizing and commodifying eclecticism or counter-culture in general is antithetical to its thesis. The second you try to enter it into the mainstream it becomes null. Pinterest Bohemia has entered what postmodernists call the hyperreal. In layman’s terms, Bohemia no longer represents what it used to; it’s merely a reflection of what it used to be and has assumed a new identity. The identity which stemmed from cultural revolution has now assimilated into what BoHo is! 

This doesn’t mean that Zoomers or Bohemia have lost all identity. Bohemia will continue to exist, just in different forms of Punk or Nomadic culture, and Zoomers will move on from this just as we did with Musically or Vine. Through this mishmash of culture is how we are able to create movements that linearly transcend the ones before it. It’s the beauty of progressivism. Through this mode of commodity and hyper-individualism we can theorize and search for this new revolution.  Welcome to Gen-Z’s Identity crisis. 

An Opening Night Success: Once Upon a Mattress

A captivating show full to the brim with comedy, alluring musical numbers, and an enchanting story, Legend High School’s hard-working theater company has once again performed an enthralling musical in this year’s production of Once Upon a Mattress. 

By Cassidy Knox

All images courtesy of Isabel Roguske (10)

Once Upon a Mattress is a musical that follows the story of a queen who has forbidden others from getting married until her son was to be wed to “a real princess.” Putting all of the princess’s suitors through unfair tests to find out if they are a true princess, others in the land grow tired of the never-ending test, prolonging everyone else’s marriages, and they set out to do something about it. In this fabulous twist on the classic story of “The Princess and the Pea,” the musical comes to light on Legend High School’s stage, all for your enjoyment. 

With the direction and choreography of Katie Glide, technical direction of Ashley Wallace, musical direction of Phill Hatton, and head seamstress, Joan Stewart, these directors have put together a wonderful show through their dedicated hard work and passionate teaching. Talking about what he is most proud of pertaining to the show, Mr. Hatton (Choral Director for Legend) says he is “most proud of how much work the cast and crew has put in, especially in all the long hours they all put in in the past few weeks.” The theater student leadership team with members like Izzy Roguske (10), Thomas McLaren (11), Ash Munoz (11), Braydon Smith (12), Josh Stuart (12), and Emi Sekol (10) has also put in countless hours to make this show the joyful performance it is. Assistant director Izzy Roguske talks about how proud she is of “the teamwork everyone put together, and how even though there were some rough times during the process [of putting together the musical] it all came out to be a beautiful show.” 

The performing cast in this musical are truly amazing with their shocking vocals and hilarious acting. Norah Sergrist (10) playing the charismatic Princess Winnifred delivers an amusing performance complete with her stunning vocals–every note crisp and clear. Her onstage dialogue, along with Ben Jaridnes’s character (12), Prince Dauntless, is a truly wonderful part of the show. Norah reflects on what she is most proud of with the show saying, “It’s everyone’s energy; honestly this was the best run we’ve ever had. This was amazing.” Sydney Roguske (12) playing Queen Aggrravain, and Iris Pixler (11) playing Lady Larken put on two unforgettable performances as they both bring their characters to life through their brilliant acting.  Sydney Roguske’s favorite experience in the musical developing process is that “[she] loved really developing the character as a whole.” Iris Pixler talks about her favorite experience in the show’s development saying, “Coming to theater every day for rehearsal, and seeing everyone smile and being surrounded by people whom I love” is her best memory. Nora Sturm (10) playing the Lady in Waiting also talks about what she is most proud of when recalling the rehearsals leading up to this dazzling performance: “All of the choreography that [the actors] did, it was insane. [They] spent so much time on it, and it went so well.”

Attending the Legend theater program’s Once Upon a Mattress musical is a remarkable experience that no one at Legend should miss out on. From the lights and costumes to the remarkable acting and sensational vocals, this musical production warrants the standing ovation they got on opening night, predictably following in  the other shows to come. I would encourage everyone who hasn’t attended a show to go and see it on the remaining dates: April 14th, 15th, and 16th all at 7:00 p.m. Don’t miss your opportunity to attend this striking musical production.

DECA Does It, Again!

Legend’s Performance at DECA state competition

By Ronak Dsouza

Business is booming for Legend’s DECA program. Over the past weekend, many fellow Titans competed in the annual DECA state competition. The event, held at the Broadmoor, happened over the span of three days.

The first day, Sunday, was the first round for all of the written events. The next day the individuals who performed the best were then selected to compete in the final round. Also on Sunday was the first round for the roleplay events with the finals round occuring on Tuesday. Awards were given to the top performers at the competition after the roleplay finals. These winners then subsequently qualified for the international conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

This year’s competition was record-breaking for Legend as there were more international qualifiers than in previous years.

“We had 15 people qualify to go to Nashville,” said senior Ashley Lawson.

Additionally, the time not competing was just as memorable for the DECA students.

“We were able to stay in the Broadmoor this year,” said senior Rachel Derose. “It was super exciting and we all had a lot of fun.”

In the end, the main highlight was the great memories and companionship created at the competition.

“It was really good to see Legend bring around 70 people to state,” said senior Rachel Derose. “As a DECA officer team, it felt good to see that the hard work of many members paid off.”

Here’s hoping Legend’s success will continue at the international conference in Nashville.