Is renaming the seasons a sign of late-stage capitalism? Or empire? Or decadence? Whatever the case, our cultural commissars have spoken and they’ve decided that seasonal epithets are back in. No longer is it acceptable to wistfully recall the summer of ’69; we must now commemorate it as Raspy Canadian Dreamboat Summer or some such thing. The Chinese have long categorized their years according to animals — dogs and rabbits and tigers and so on. Not us. What we’ve done is to head to the Narcissus pool, hold up a calendar, and demand that the months and equinoxes look a little more like us.
This began two years ago when someone called Megan Thee Stallion released a rap single called ‘Hot Girl Summer’. Instantly, the 2019 solstice had a name, though Miss Thee Stallion made it clear that this was to be no celebration of conventional feminine beauty. ‘Being a Hot Girl,’ she tweeted, ‘is about being unapologetically YOU, having fun, being confident, living YOUR truth, being the life of the party etc.’ In other words, it’s the same self-flattering stuff that we’re always being hectored to do. And sure enough, Thee Stallion popped up later to clarify that, speaking for herself, she engages in ‘real hot girl shit’ year-round.
How much hot girl shit Americans did in the summer of 2019 is still fiercely debated by social scientists. What isn’t disputed is that come the fall, the internet had moved on. A new category was christened: Christian Girl Autumn. Don’t think for a second that its purpose was to express contrition for the trouble the hot girls had gotten themselves into over the summer. According to a Vox article, which, like all Vox articles, begins with ‘Though climate change may eventually change the world as we know it…’ Christian Girl Autumn was less a celebration of feminine positivity than it was a Two-Months Hate.
In the crosshairs were all the targets our media loves to detest: whites, Republicans, white Republicans. Christian Girl Autumn was an opportunity to finally show contempt for these people sans any kind of critical thinking that might prove painful. Its Emmanuel Goldstein was a viral picture of two fall-ready white women wearing scarves and jeans and leather boots. (Hilariously, one of the women in that photo later came forward and made clear that while she might be basic, she was no Republican.)
As 2019 became 2020, anticipation was high: what banal and aneurysm-inducing titles might we bestow upon seasons in the new year? Alas, the darkest of circumstances struck: COVID descended, George Floyd was killed, riots erupted in cities, a contested election gave way to an insurrection at the Capitol building. A moratorium on temporal epithets was called, perhaps because it might have felt too much like the Reign of Terror, when the French revolutionaries kept renaming the months. It really did seem back then like we were dangling over a fire. The mayor of Seattle made noise about a ‘summer of love’, then quickly walked it back.
But that was then; this is now, and despite the FAA’s best efforts to pretend otherwise, the pandemic has ended. The summer gleams with potential, and once again the epithets have started to fly. So far, there are two contenders, one much more viable than the other. The better of the pair is Hot Vax Summer, which refers to the unmitigated orgy of drinking, laughing, partying and rutting that we all intend to participate in now that we’re vaccinated. The tension of 2020 is to be relieved with a burst of hedonism — and far be it from me to stand in anyone’s way. Quarantine atomized us, deprived us of each other, made us lonely. Wanting to shake that off isn’t narcissistic; it’s gloriously human.
Still, there’s the second and lesser of the epithets for us to contend with. It comes courtesy of Chet Hanks, white rapper, son of Tom Hanks, and apparent answer to the oft-asked question ‘What would Fred Durst look like if he was bulimic?’ Demonstrating his razor-sharp proficiency with a calendar, Mr Hanks back in April released a rap track called ‘White Boy Summer’. Problem was, it wasn’t clear what a White Boy Summer was supposed to look like. The video for the single provided few clues beyond Hanks spraying a woman’s bare butt with sunscreen. And May is already Skin Cancer Awareness Month, as any observing Caucasian will readily tell you.
Hanks did lay down some ground rules for White Boy Summer, including ‘no salmon-colored clothing’ and ‘no boat shoes’, which all but voids my own claim to the white race. But it was too late. The internet had done what it does best. Leftists buried Hanks in disdain, white nationalists took up his cause, and the symbol of White Boy Summer shifted from a tank-topped bro manning a charcoal Weber to a Nazi stormtrooper. It was enough to make you hate that you were alive, though maybe it was also necessary. With the idiot racists occupied in front of their mothers’ Dells, the field was clear for the rest of us to fill up our Solo cups. Hot Vax Summer was on.
Yet before I personally embark on a bender that leaves me passed out in a barn surrounded by empty tequila minis and ritually defaced surgical masks, let me make one final suggestion. The pandemic was rough on everyone, but it’s been especially brutal for restaurants and pubs. And it still is: many waiters and bartenders are working overtime, struggling to cover the gap of a severe employment shortage. We moderns should celebrate ourselves, of course, given that we’re the most clever and literate people in the history of civilization. But maybe we should also dovetail our own sun-dappled bacchanalia with those who are sacrificing to keep the party going.
What I’m saying is: be kind to your waiter. Don’t make a mess. Leave a stupidly high tip. Let’s make it a Hot Bartender Summer.
This article was originally published in The Spectator’s August 2021 World edition.