At our first editors’ meeting, we had the happy realization that this was the thirteenth year of kitsch‒and so our theme “13” was born.
The theme, 13, inspired interpretations ranging from José Armando’s analysis of superstitions (“My Belief is Their Superstition”), to Fauna, Elise, and Annika’s takes on puberty and adolescence (“Shaving Off Gender Norms,” “Thirteen and Thriving,” and “What It Means To Be Thirteen”), to Agrippa and Melvin’s explorations of video games (“Thirteen and Online,” and “Leaving the Vault”). Of course, some of the articles branched out beyond “13”‒for example, Adam’s revealing take on the irony of two of Cornell’s benefactors’ legacies (“Embracing Goldwin Smith”). His piece deals with cultural discrimination, both past and present, a conversation which took on a frightening realism given the context of November 2016.
Close to layout week, the United States elected Donald Trump to be the next president. We had watched his campaign and saw the way that he changed the expected and accepted political discourse. The (liberal) media assured us that a Donald Trump presidency would never happen‒yet here we are.
But yes‒we are here. Thirteen years ago, the founders of kitsch, Katie and Samantha, created (in their words) “this locus of counter-culture” where we, and all the writers, editors, and artists that came before us, found a space. While we were creating this issue, the media around us was saturated with toxic political rhetoric, and so we made the decision to not contribute to this pollution. Naturally, the political issues at stake during this campaign did find their way in, for example in Jael’s criticism of white feminism (“White Girls Watching Lena”) and Stephen’s retrospective on his conservative Catholic school (“How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love God”), and yet the majority of these pieces are personal, introspective, and distinctly apolitical. It in this defiant apoliticality that we make our strongest statement: we as people, we as cultures and counter-cultures, do and will continue to exist. This is kitsch.
Here’s to another 13 years.
Aurora and Jagravi