So, we’re in the midst, again, of another salvo of assessment of this whole Hipster thing. The occasion this time is the publication of What Was the Hipster?, an anthology of essays assembled by the editors of the literary journal n+1. New York Magazine adapted an article by n+1 founder Mark Greif from the collection a week or two ago… it was, eh, ok, useful mostly in it’s classification of the growth rings of the phenomena overall. Another offshoot was published this weekend in the New York Times Book Review. The essay, again by Greif, focused on the timelessness of the artificiality & class stratification of supposedly “authentic” regimes of taste and connoisseurship. Anyway… in light of all this it seemed a fine moment to dig up an old sketch I wrote about two years ago – for my nickel it all goes back to that Marshall McLuhan chestnut about the medium being message… for your consideration, then:
[originally posted October 22, 2008]
These hipster zombies… are the idols of the style pages, the darlings of viral marketers and the marks of predatory real-estate agents, – And they must be buried for cool to be reborn. – Time Out New York
We are a lost generation, desperately clinging to anything that feels real, but too afraid to become it ourselves. We are a defeated generation, resigned to the hypocrisy of those before us, who once sang songs of rebellion and now sell them back to us. We are the last generation, a culmination of all previous things, destroyed by the vapidity that surrounds us. The hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture so detached and disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new. – ADBUSTERS
Ultimately I don’t even really care if people call me a hipster. I especially don’t care if they say that hipsters are lacking any meaning behind their lifestyle/wardrobe, I thought I was just dressing a certain way, I didn’t realize “we” were supposed to be saying something with our clothes or facial hair. – Adam Flanagan, Hipster
The phenomenon of the hipster has lately generated a great deal of heated chit-chat and brouhaha. Condescending bile from earlier generations of cool cats (They must die for cool to be reborn…) flabbergasted ire from anti-consumerist pick-noses (oh the vapidity! oh the shopping!), awkward sniffing by curious marketing organs (mmmm, yummy…. tastemakers….) topped off by the defensive wail of the misunderstood hipster himself (What, what, what?… I’m not even a hipster) – more than half of it is nonsense on stilts and all of it misses the forces at work by a country mile.
I think it’s like this…