Saturday, August 09, 2008

Nobody Wants To Be A Hipster

You know how sometimes you see or read something and then invariably keep seeing or reading other things and they all sort of come together with a shared theme?

Hipsters have been on my radar over the past couple weeks. I've been completely obsessed with Hipster Runoff after seeing the links on CatDirt and Stereogum. Then yesterday, I was called "The queen of all things hipster" by Fear and Loathing in Golden Hill and I cringed. Nobody wants to be called a hipster. I own no tights or leggings. I don't wear headbands. My t-shirt and jeans "style" has been the same since 9th grade.

So it was funny in all my thinking about what it means to be a hipster that I found this article, via a Twitter link that went to a blog that linked to another blog that linked to an article in AdBusters. The full article is here and here's a link to an entire issue of Time Out New York, "Why The Hipster Must Die".

“I’ve always found that word [“hipster”] is used with such disdain, like it’s always used by chubby bloggers who aren’t getting laid anymore and are bored, and they’re just so mad at these young kids for going out and getting wasted and having fun and being fashionable,” he says. “I’m dubious of these hypotheses because they always smell of an agenda.”
Maybe I am a hipster, maybe not. But if I am, then Known as Ben, you are too. Let's go blog together at the Moose Lodge while drinking Schlitz/PBR/Old Milwaukee and smoking American Spirits/Parliaments. I'll wear an oversized men's shirt with leggings and you can wear skinny jeans and an American Apparel V-Neck.


JonnyUps said...

hipster or not, you referenced PBR in a blog and i love you more for it.

Tyler said...

I'm sure the "Hipster Olympics" has been seen by the readers, but it's still a classic:

Lazy John said...

"Hipster" is synonymous with "scenester." The term denotes someone who is into a musical scene/lifestyle choice for the wrong reasons - because it's trendy. I know of a person in this city who made an overnight transition from rockabilly to indie style, and that person fits the definition of hipster perfectly; that person never really liked rockabilly music for the right reasons(if that person ever actually liked rockabilly music at all), yet was the self-proclaimed "queen of the scene." Of course, nobody could stand her and she had no friends.

Etymologically, hipster comes from the same root word as "hip." It's about trying to impress people.

Authentic fans of indie rock are regular people who happen to prefer a certain look. Hipsters are people who wear the look like a uniform and artificially obsess over a band's popularity or lack of it, as if such has something to do with quality.

I listen primarily to pre-1970 country, and it doesn't offend me that the Rilo Kiley/Bright Eyes types have developed somewhat of an appreciation for this vastly underrated American musical genre; I'm actually grateful because it means that I might actually hear a DJ other than myself play such records, and it leads to re-releases of great old albums.

I like Franz Ferdinand, CSS and anything Alex Young (I think that's his name - the Arctic Monkeys kid) does; I don't care how many or how few copies their records sell. I like Malajube and Les Breastfeeders; I don't care if no one buys their records.

I came of age in the early 1980's - the "New Romantic" movement - and most of the people who affected that culture moved on to be yuppies in a matter of months. The same thing will eventually happen with the hipster movement, and the music and its fashion will be returned to its true fan base soon enough. In the meantime, stop worrying about it and enjoy the fact that the music you like has so much popularity and is so available to you. Hell, if every bar I went to played George Jones, Faron Young and Porter Wagoner all the time, I'd be constanly drunk.

Finally, hipsters come in all shades because hipsterism is an attitude (more accurately, an attitude problem). There are rockabilly hipsters - just look at all the clowns who know nothing about the history of rockabilly music but who spend hundreds of dollars on 55-year-old pairs of pink slacks and gold gabardine shirts.

Lazy John said...

Furthermore, what has happened to indie rock has happened to every other type of music as well - i.e it's been co-opted by capitalism. It just happened faster with indie rock because 1) it's more user-friendly than other genres, 2) the people are all cute and marketable, 3) people who were raised on indie rock run the advertising industry, and 4) the democratization of media makes for much quicker discovery of cool stuff.

Had punk rock happened 25 years later, the same thing would have happened with it.

At least indie rock was truly indie before it was co-opted. The raver scene was intentionally commercial from its genesis, which is way worse.

Lazy John said...

Sorry - one more thing. New York is a city run by the fashion industry, which hates longevity. They survive only when something is declared "so last year" arbitrarily and they can create something "new." Of course, the fashion industry is far more guilty of mishmashing and recycling ideas than the hipsters they decry.

One wonders how many Madison Avenue execs are pacing in their
20th floor offices contemplating suicide because the hipster thing has held on so long as to keep their "new ideas" from being implemented - "damn these kids! They're blocking the path of my new retro-grunge line!"

Known as Ben said...

Oh crap. Now that someone has actually defined what a Hipster is I can't just flippantly throw the term around and have others assume I know what I'm talking about. Before it was defined I could apply the term to whomever I wanted and few would question me.

Perhaps I need to embrace my inner Hipster. I'll buy the first round of PBR.

Lazy John said...

Known as Ben, I hope you've read George Orwell's "Politics and the English Language." He said that politicians like to avoid tying words down to any one meaning because, if they did, they could no longer use it (he mentioned "democracy," "freedom" and "fascism," the last of which he said came only to mean "something not desirable"). Henry Rollins made reference to this in a spoken word bit as well - "if we have FREEDOM over HERE (pointing to an imaginary blackboard), then what YOU'RE doing is not THIS").

And PBR's disgusting.

Lazy John said...

I took a look at Hipster Runoff. It's petty, juvenile and boring. My high school sophomores could put together something more sophisticated. It reeks of failed musician jealousy.