The year is 2021 and the entire world has been painted gray. The once warm and inviting facades of fast-food restaurants have been leveled to the ground and rebuilt to remove references to pleasure or family. Advertisements no longer depict beautiful people or aspirational lifestyles and instead offer a uniform, cloying vision of utopian blandness and equality. In the home, walls dividing rooms have been torn out to create a 24/7 open-plan panopticon and cozy wall-to-wall carpeting has been replaced with sterile, hygienic laminate flooring. After a long day of emailing, food is ordered via delivery app and you settle in to quietly stream a television show, some episodes of which have been removed due to a recent moral panic. Everyone around you seems inexplicably content with all of this, and no one smells like anything.
What went wrong in the 2010s and how can it be corrected? In this course taught by iconoclastic cultural critic Jack the Perfume Nationalist we will examine how one decade in American history sought to eradicate truth, beauty, and art, and replace them with a politics of fear, censorship, and self-policing minimalist austerity. We will learn how engagement with large, uncontainable narratives, reevaluation of forbidden and problematized works, and rediscovery of the neglected sense of smell can reverse the effects of a lost and dehumanizing decade.