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Mainstream Trippiness

I went to the Van Gogh Immersive last weekend, and while I enjoyed it, I spent much of the show wondering about the trend/influx of “trippiness” as popular, mainstream entertainment. What was once relegated to the fringes of society is now commonplace and normal.

At first, I passively assumed this of trippy entertainment was connected to legal cannabis – something once also on the fringes, now legal and increasingly acceptable. And with getting high being legal, there is now a much bigger market for serving high people – so shows like the above make sense, demand-wise.

But then I wondered if maybe I had causation wrong (that actually legal cannabis was a result of the same factors that made trippiness highly sought out). Nowadays we are inundated with content, and the task of creators becomes how to stand out in such a field. (One solution seems to be getting extreme: whether offensiveness, or shock value, or graphically. And it seems to work.)

So my second conclusion was that as consumers are inundated and become increasingly numb to “basic” content, our systems need more stimulation to get our attention, and even to feel anything. Hence legal weed. Hence mainstream trippiness.

But, then, as I continued to argue with my own conclusions (totally sober, fwiw), I realized that maybe there’s something much more pernicious, or toxic, going on. Sure we’re inundated, sure we’re bored and numb to the mundane – but we’re also very turned off by what’s going on in the world. Violence, racism, outrage… I could list for days but you know what I’m talking about… is this “trippiness effect” actually the result of people just wanting to opt out of normal states of consciousness given what the world is giving us?

Do we find the world so hideous, that we as a society are seeking out modalities that are explicitly not real?

And that’s what I concluded, as I tiptoed my way through a “covid crowd” of people experiencing Van Gogh (plenty trippy to begin with) in such a way that gave them a sense of total non-reality – an sense disconnected from a disheartening world. A consciousness escape – at least for 38 minutes.


Maybe there’s a more positive spin. Something Eckhart Tolle-in around upgrading consciousness, around perceptions being tuned to something beyond and greater than ourselves.

And there’s much to say here around psychedelics and escape vs consciousness expansion. But I’ll leave that for another time.

Question: What do you think? Why the rise in trippy entertainment? Any one of my conclusions resonate, or do you have another theory? Or maybe do you disagree with the premise to begin with? Let me know!

Or you can just trip out on Van Gogh a little more – also cuz a little Thom Yorke never hurt anyone: