‘Selfie’ Pioneers: Self-Flattering 19th Century Flamboyant French Fops Got There FirstPosted: February 26, 2014
Blame it on the Dandy.
“…the ultimate emblem of the age of narcissism…”
— Jonathon Freedman, The Guardian
For the Calgary Herald’s Andrew Cohen, “selfie culture” represents the “critical mass” of selfish entitlement; for Navneet Alang in the Globe and Mail, selfies are inextricable from the need for self-expression, a “reminder of what it means to be human.” For the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland, the selfie is both: at once “the ultimate emblem of the age of narcissism” and a function of the “timeless human need to connect.”
Honoré Daumier, Dandy, oil on canvas, 1871.
With a few exceptions, commentators tended to converge on one point: the selfie, and the unencumbered act of self-creation it represents, is unmistakably of our time, shorthand for a whole host of cultural tropes wedded to the era of the smartphone.
“It’s hard to think of a more appropriate—or more depressing—symbol of the kind of society we have become. We are living in an age of narcissism, an age in which only our best, most attractive, most carefully constructed selves are presented to the world.”
— Jennifer O’Connell, Irish Times
“…reminder of what it means to be human.”
— Navneet Alang, Globe & Mail
As Jennifer O’Connell, writing for the Irish Times, puts it: “It’s hard to think of a more appropriate—or more depressing—symbol of the kind of society we have become. We are living in an age of narcissism, an age in which only our best, most attractive, most carefully constructed selves are presented to the world.”
But our obsession with the power of self-creation—and its symbiotic relationship with the technology that makes it possible—is hardly new. Even the “selfie artist” is hardly a creation of 2013. Its genesis isn’t in the iPhone, but in the painted portrait: not among the Twitterati, but among the silk-waistcoated dandies of nineteenth-century Paris…
- Do selfies lead to head lice infestations? (technologytell.com)
- France’s Pantheon opens to all (selfies welcome) (nzherald.co.nz)
- France’s Pantheon opens to all (selfies welcome) (azfamily.com)
- The Science of Selfies: A Five-City Comparison (news.nationalgeographic.com)
- Head Lice Is Spreading Like Crazy and Selfies Are To Blame! (hothits957.cbslocal.com)
- This Might Be The First Selfie In Photographic History (fastcodesign.com)
- Selfies, Narcissism, and the Secret Power of Tech (sociologyofstyle.com)
- France’s Pantheon Opens to All (selfies Welcome) (abcnews.go.com)
- France’s Pantheon opens to all (selfies welcome) (gulfnews.com)
- How 19th-Century Dandies Explain Kim Kardashian’s Gajillion Selfies (fastcodesign.com)