San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

‘Corecore’ and modernity’s media malaise

This social media trend reflects a desperate search for meaning through miscellaneous media compilations
Gabrielle Houser
Illustration by Gabrielle Houser

In today’s virtual world, there is a great, desperate search for a unique aesthetic. Permeating these virtual spaces are platforms that spread and influence our thoughts.

Modernity has given us so much in terms of material wealth, and with so much product comes a human desire to attach meaning. Movies, TV shows and video games have all originated from the purposes of entertainment and profit motive. Some have evolved to something greater, but many have egregiously regressed.

The most critically praised products are the ones that fully embrace the human condition; though a product all the same, they can embody the same aesthetics as traditional artforms like music or painting.

In an increasingly digitized society, readily processed thoughts, emotions and expressions can be felt vicariously through the media we consume.

As people search for meaning, a short-video format called “corecore” has emerged.

The trend resembles distilled feelings of nostalgia, sorrow and pensive existentialism. The idea behind the name “corecore” is a meta term. In this instance, core is essentially a substitute for the word trend.

While “core” trends, such as “cottagecore” and “weirdcore” refer to the topics themselves, “corecore” is a post-modernist trend of the trends themselves. This can explain the disordered approach to how these clips are repurposed, compiled and mismatched with each other. Accompanying most of the videos are speeches, the good times, heartfelt apologies, unrequited love, bittersweet sayings, harsh truths and feelings of isolation.

In the case of “corecore,” we can see people without stake or involvement in content creation producing outside industry restrictions. These clips and compilations mirror the many, individual, unheard voices crying out through our culture of consumption. These feelings of unexplainable dread lead characters to confront or avoid their nebulous anxieties.

My relationship with “corecore” is an odd one.

I admire the media properties that make up these compilations, and I think it’s a creative endeavor in itself to find emotional outlets through art. However, I find its self-pitying nature to be unhealthy.

People are so desperate to find meaning and originality they resort to making it themselves.

Studio executives are similarly attempting to center themselves in the cultural mainstream, shifting the focus away from creatives to boardroom executives. Laziness becomes confused for sentimentality when the new is always trying to emulate the old. The difference is that corecore creators are spurred by their emotions rather than their wallets.

Films about escaping a metaphorical matrix or prison such as “Fight Club” or “The Truman Show” emulate a desire to break away from the system.

So too are hardened, roguish stars, like Walter White from “Breaking Bad” or Tony Soprano from “The Sopranos,” used in these compilations because they resemble a hyper-masculine, parodic revolt to living a life of discontented stability.

The heart of “corecore” is a reflection of the mainstream cliché to haphazardly stitch together past media properties, like “Ready Player One.” That’s not to mention the deluge of remakes, reboots, recastings and regurgitated IP’s being zombified for the crusade of a profit motive.

We’re stuck in a time warp. Nostalgia has become the greatest blight on the industry’s creative consciousness, never letting a “good thing go,” or die out. The system is so entrenched in this way of thinking that the “good thing” doesn’t have to be good.

It’s why culturally irrelevant properties like “Good Burger,” “Willow,” “Beavis and Butthead” or “Frasier,” can be forcibly dragged out and resurrected for a quick buck. A familiar face and name is all you need. Greed shines through when even the dead aren’t allowed to escape.

With long-standing franchises like “Star Wars,” there has been a trend of using CGI mock-ups of deceased geriatric celebrities, priming the audience to exclaim “ooh, I remember them!”

It’s a charade put on so that the illusion of substance can be kept alive long enough that the viewer doesn’t notice that there’s nothing behind the dressing.

As Mark Fisher points out in “Capitalist Realism,” “the whole subjective dimension of the future has disappeared, it has been canceled.”

When will these technological innovations be used as the gifts that they are, rather than as a crutch to prop up creatively bankrupt projects? Technological advancements don’t matter if you can’t tell a good story.

We’ve reached a point where creativity isn’t just considered as secondary, but detrimental to its monetary success. Why give a movie an R rating, or risk platforming new voices in the industry when it will always be safer to stick with the old?

I don’t necessarily agree with “core core” and its overt pessimism and self-loathing, but I understand it. Beyond the haze of its varied source material, people are desperately trying to find meaning within a meaningless culture.

As long as pastiches of the past are profitable, we’ll see our current culture cannibalize itself until the initial referent is lost in a sea of simulation and simulacrum, to the point where our ability to recognize any authenticity, is gone.

About the Contributors
Christopher Ritter
Christopher Ritter, Staff Writer
Christopher Ritter (he/him/his) is a Senior at San Diego State University. He is majoring in Public Administration and minoring in Economics. In his spare time he loves listening to music, playing bass guitar, reading, and writing. He is currently interning with the City of San Diego as well as volunteering for the Refugee Resettlement center under Jewish Family Services. Christopher plans on volunteering overseas for the Peace Corps after graduation, ideally pursuing graduate school and or some other career in international government. He hopes that he can use his writing as a tool for inspiring others and expressing his keen interests in life.
Gabrielle Houser
Gabrielle Houser, '23-24 Graphics Editor