The first time I wrote about not writing about Hipsters I made the the equivalent argument of “No. You’re a Hipster, shut up.” I apologize. There is no doubt that I was missing something. Perhaps sobriety. By the time that piece was published, the term Hipster had degraded into such a dirty word that all the image conjured up was irritation. What my naive 27 year-old self should have officially declared was “The Hipsters are dead (finally).”
Anyone who writes about “the newest underground thing” is always wrong (especially if it’s been more than three years since it began trending). When the last key is stroked and the words are read by strangers, the trend has gone mainstream. That, or the exposé only made sense to one person.
Now, before we get all askew and existential, let’s take a step back and look at every other erroneous decade before the 2000s. Ravers – Grunge – Hair Metal – Punk – New Wave – “Classic” Rock – Hippies: All of these eras were over-saturated in hype. The fact that there was something new happening is what made the times so grand. It’s a well-stereotyped fact that new is cool even if it’s no good.
Nostalgia carries forward the notion that there were greater periods of time before now because having trouble adapting to the current cultural climate is part of growing up. It’s like remembering when you were thin. Not that the world isn’t an amazing, evolving yet dying, technological supernode presently, but our memories of Hipsterdom will vary greatly from those of Boomers, Gen-Xers and the like because being one didn’t mean anything.
Hipsters may have donned the visage of well-read, bicycling, do-gooders with Viagra-sustained boners for Mac Products and great taste in music no one else had ever heard of, but what does it mean? How much good is one doing supporting Apple’s exploitation of its Chinese factory workers? Eating meat is totally unethical but bacon is delicious, right? How many bland indie acts does it take to screw in a light bulb?! When you boil it down, being a Hipster was about sporting plaid, cartoonish glasses and facial hair. We, I mean they, won’t be able to say “Hey, remember that time we totally changed the world through protest?” or “God, I miss Joy Division.” Instead we’ve got “Man, Steve Jobs was the greatest. He totally invented the mouse by underpaying the guy who came up with the idea to build it.”
Human beings constantly do and like things that end up seeming ridiculous in hindsight. Hipsters, however, were the antipathy of a generation as it was happening.
The Internet Generation – Gen Y – The Simpsons Generation (whatever you want to call us) don’t and didn’t want to hear, see or smell the word Hipster…. Hipster. Hipster. HIPSTER. To be fair, there are always problems when something grabs our attention en mass. It’s just usually those on the outside that see it first. Hippies were filthy, Punks were angry at themselves but blamed The Man, New Wave… well, there was a lot of cocaine lying around in the 1980s. Hipsters lied themselves into individuality which resulted in a pandemic of obscenely misplaced self-confidence and jealousy for those who weren’t faking it.
The question becomes: Was this leap into a deluded existence the Hipsters’ fault? Was it American Apparel’s? Was it dad’s? You can’t blame one massive group of people for thinking they’re unique. That’s like trying to prove the existence of God to an Atheist. The notion is entirely subjective and can’t carry any more weight than, say, Chuck Norris (nobody really knows, it could be minuscule).
“Contradiction is art in a world where every one is equal but no one is the same.”
We have a bizarre, self-involved way of observing our surroundings; but are the naughts really that different from the nineties? An acquaintance of mine recently noted:
“[The] world has always been messed up, but now that everyone has a video camera in their pocket, we get to see a lot more of it.”.
In other words, the only difference between then and now is that We Live in Public. Here is where I should probably introduce some kind of Blade Runner reference to remind you of a simpler era when imagination seemed more absurd than it is right now. I don’t know, maybe something about robots. Meh. The Simpsons Generation and its adoring after-birthed may not reside in the post-modern, 1984-esque, cocaine-driven fantasy of oppression through surveillance that our parents feared for us, but we are waiting for it.
Laptops, iPads and Androids haven’t changed who we are, just how we exist. Meaning that they’ve allowed us to be as self-indulgent as we were raised to be. And we get to do it for the world to see.
It would be a tad ironic for me to say that there was something bad about a group I share many qualities with. Or would it be post-ironic? Essentially, I can’t take point on criticizing everyone who embraced Instagram early because some people’s lunches look retro-delicious. Just like I can’t judge those who temporarily loved Crystal Castles because I still kinda do. And can one really be held accountable thinking cat memes are the cutest or giving Facebook access to the GPS in their phone? It’s non sequitur, really.
People learned to accept ravers ten years ago, and our latest misguided fad has simply blended in. No one cares anymore. The Hipster craze is dead; which, in fact, is a temporary blessing.
There will soon be a time when receiving regular e-mails beginning with headers like “Free PBR T-Shirt…”, living vicariously through InstaGlasses, and iPad tourism will cease to tempt even the most judgemental among us to poke fun. We may eventually discover a brief period, similar to right now, when no individual clique or culture stands out in any particularly irritating way. A time when everyone is just as irritating as everyone else. Where My Little Pony is a television show for adults!
Then some asshole writer will point it out and something else will catch on. I dunno, maybe face tattoos? Full circle, the majority will once again have a culture to pick on. That is, until we all get our own.
“I had a face tattoo before it was cool.”
-He didn’t actually say that