Tube tops, lip gloss, and Juicy Tracksuits are back whether you like it or not. While some refer to this era as the “Naughties” or “Early 2000s”, another name is circulating through the Internet. Enter McBling. The name was coined through a Facebook page in 2016 and has generated over 5,000 members. The admin of the page Evan Collins, is a Seattle-based architect who has always had a passion for contextualizing the aesthetics of the Y2K and Post Y2K era. I sat down with Collins and spoke to him more about the concept behind McBling, and the powerful relationship between the Internet and cultural creation we are witnessing today.
How would you describe McBling?
It started as a branch-off from this Y2K group I was working on. Y2K was kind of the initial passion project that I was doing for a couple of years. I migrated it on to Facebook and started the group after personal research. I had other people submitting their stuff and we started talking on there. I noticed that people were posting stuff that was different from Y2K, aesthetics, something that had come after that era. I thought it might be something else that people haven’t put a much of a name or a lot of discussion into yet, and eventually the group came up with McBling.
McBling is such a brilliant name. Tell me more about it.
Mc is from McMansion, the bling is Bling. When I see McBling I see fraud, faux, fake, and knockoff. Everyone tried to be luxury-oriented. The early 2000s was the McDonaldization of everything.
Your research is very image-based, why do you not have an Instagram for your aesthetic pages?
I like the Facebook posting atmosphere better. Facebook can help break down the motifs, what really happened. Essentially, the page is breaking down the aesthetic tropes and giving you background.
What stemmed your passion for archiving?
My background is in architecture and design. From as far back as I can remember I have really loved to absorb what’s around me as much as possible and then in some ways piece together the context. I love categorizing stuff, finding shared motifs, tropes, things l like that in any sort of media I can absorb. It definitely lends itself well to this sort of work when your pulling stuff. The Internet is amazing for this. This really couldn’t have happened in the way it did before this kind of era right now. You have so many people just dumping unbelievable amounts of content onto the Internet from all sorts of time periods. You can find all of these shared characteristics between all these pieces of media and talk with other people. You crowd source the aesthetic by understanding the common elements.
Today we are seeing hints of McBling all over. Juicy Couture has made a come back, Paris Hilton is everywhere; I would almost say McBling is a reflection of now, especially with Trump becoming the president of the United States.
The pendulum of culture and aesthetic always seems to swings wildly from one side to another. You can see that with Y2K and McBling. McBling was very excessive, luxury-oriented, and nihilistic. Which I think goes with the Bush era when Americans were just like, “forget all the problems everyone is having, buy big houses”. There was not a lot of thought about the future, because it was grim after 9/11. Then, after McBling the crash happened, and everyone stripped down their aesthetic. In America, we entered the Obama years. We adopted the hipster look. Now, people are tired of that and now luxury is back.
McBling culture was very hyper sexualized, do you think in any way it has had some type of influence on feminism we are seeing in 2017?
I think back then with the kind of hyper sexualized imagery at the time was very “you can do whatever you want”, and it was in a way that was less acceptable before the McBling era. I think that has definitely stayed around and lasted in culture, but I think the way the media was using female bodies back than was to sell stuff rather than for the sake of women having the freedom to express themselves.
Yeah, like the male gaze in combination with mass corporatization of the early 2000s.
It’s interesting to think about the cultural transition from Y2K to McBling. Y2K had this excitement about the future, a lot of exploration with non-binary gender, androgyny, and people merging with technology. People had a much more experimental way of thinking. McBling was a more cultural shift back to conservatism. I’ve been doing McBling movie night with one of the admins who lives near me and we watch all these films from the 2000s. You look back at them and there’s a lot of homophobia, transphobia, and hetero normative roles in these films. In a way, there was a little bit more of a progressive slant in Y2K that sort of eroded in McBling.
Why does the past twenty years intrigue you?
The further you go back in the past, the more its been mined. They have figured it out to a certain extent and more understood and studied. When you get more into the recent past, it’s less of the nature of it, it takes a while for people to go back to stuff and pull out what was good, what was bad.
How many pages do you have and do you have a personal favorite?
There are a couple ones that are relative active Institute for Y2K, McBling, Global Village Coffeehouse. GVC is my personal favorite. When I found it I was like “what is this?” I think it is intentionally forgotten because it looks ridiculous now, but in an intriguing way. There are so many little subgroups of these eras. You really have to dig into this and figure out why it is the forgotten?