As some of you may know, I’ve taken up music awhile back and a lot of my free time goes into practice playing and study of music theory, with the end goal of performing my own original works for an audience. It’s a lot more resource and time consuming than I realized at the outset, and with my jobs and other projects, my time for blog reading and posting is rather sparse. However, it does give me a lot of time in contact with those people you may know as hipsters, via my various (failed) band auditions.
Those of you who are my facebook friends are quite aware how I feel about hipsters, though, my feelings are a lot more nuanced that the “Fuck those goddamn pretentious gentrifying pod people” one-liners I espouse for a private audience. For example, like most people who virulently hate and mock hipsters online, I am one, to the extent that people would identify me as one visually. No, I’m not going to rationalize it away with cries of “But I have a real job and pay my own rent!” or “Just because I like Indie Music, doesn’t mean I’m a fucking hipster.” Those lines of that sort are ways people vacate the responsibility towards critiquing themselves and the culture they reside in. It allows them to continue on doing the same sort of shit that inspires the contempt and revulsion of others and really; if you have some sort of moral compass, aesthetic taste, or any real values, whatsoever; yourself.
People tend to latch on to the visual affectations of the subculture. The godawful facial hair, the cheap beer, the fashion nightmares. That in itself is understandable. What subculture hasn’t set themselves apart by looking somewhat ridiculous? By that same token, how do you parody something without first insulting and spoofing the outward identifiers of the group? The most common form of comedy was and continues to be the farce, and to expect nuance and deep commentary out of it is rather like looking for Moliere or Swift in a sitcom. Yeah, there will be the occasional flash of brilliant wit somewhere, but as always, the signal to noise will be low.
Really, though, there is a lot rotten with it. In fact I would say the whole thing is a gigantic load of self-important, patronizing, solipsist pretension that people use to elevate themselves above others while producing nothing of worth, and conforming to in-group norms that would make a Mormon in Provo say “Woah, now that’s a lifestyle that takes more commitment than I could handle!”
You may be asking yourself right now: “But Spike, didn’t you just say you are a hipster? Why the hell would you want to be grouped with people you dislike so much? Are you filled with self-loathing?”
To answer the ultimate question, yes. I make the Underground Man seem like Oprah on my bad days. The thing is, most hipsters don’t like themselves much either, though most aren’t willing to admit it, or even recognize it. Think about it. The happiest people you know in the world. In my experience they’re all retarded or old people who can only remember how awesome their youth was in 1952 skiddoo. Do they give a shit what others think of them? Hell no. In fact I would state that one of the iron laws of human nature is this dictum:
“A person’s happiness is inversely proportional to how much they care other people perceive them.”
By this dictum, one can perhaps see that most hipsters really want to seem like they’re having the time of their life, but really, they’re actually pretty miserable humans. Pitiable if they weren’t so goddamn annoying.
As for being a hipster, why fight it? I like reading books. I like vintage clothing. I enjoy wearing fedoras and dual-tone wingtips. Playing ukulele is one of the few things that makes me genuinely happy. I enjoy traveling, museums and some indie music. All these things basically flag me as belonging to this subculture, whether or not I want to be in it, share its values, or even like the people I’m grouped with.
Let me put it this way. Back in 1970, most folks would have looked at Ted Nugent and thought “Look at that fucking hippie.” He dressed like one, wore his hair like one, talked like one, played rock music and liked to fuck as many chicks as he could. The fact that he was an extremely conservative teetotaler who loved hunting and reviling liberals even more than the average southern good ole’ boy meant nothing at the time. Times changed and basically he could be his long hair rock and roll self yet no one would ever mistake him for being in the same class of people as David Crosby.
By that same token, in admitting I am a fucking hipster, I can accept who I am and reject what it means at the same time.
On that note of rejection, notice that I said that nowadays no one would mistake Ted Nugent as being in the same class of people as David Crosby.
Class, and to a much lesser extent, race, are defining factors in what makes someone the sort of hipster that is the bane of inner city neighborhoods. I would like to direct people to Scott Locklin’s brilliant series on social class in America that is more illuminating than 10,000 HBD screeds on why doez blacks run fast and why doez Jews run the world. Scott Locklin’s blog at Alternative Right (note, I don’t consider myself a member of the alternative right, though I am a sympathizer with many of their ideas and hope they get more coverage so they can be debated for real and not as strawmen). The series on social class may inspire me to write some stuff on the subject in the future, but I digress.
Hipsters, are the children of the modern upper-middle class. Children is perhaps to nice a word. “Spawn” is more fitting. They are the distilled quintessence of all that is rotten, dysfunctional, ugly and destructive in their creators, both their parents and the society that molded them. They are what the men and women behind the curtain look like when robbed of their authority and Oz-like voice.
And get this: They’re the ones who aren’t going to get to the levers of power. That goes to their brothers and sisters who aren’t spoiled drop-outs with no drive. You see hipsters, they have no reason to hide their contempt. Their make-work sinecure at a media company or a non-profit, or low level civil servant position is guaranteed should they want it. Eventually most will become the colorless bureaucrats that most colorless bohemians become. It’s not that their more driven and shrewd compatriots are any better than them. They still think they’re smarter than you, more tasteful than you, and know what’s better for the world. It’s just they’re not lazy self-indulgent assholes.
I want you to imagine that. Your future ruling class will essentially be hipsters with the desire to put their stamp on the world and the social graces to make it happen.
Kinda makes you more tolerant of that dick who yammers about how he found himself trekking across Costa Rica and how Animal Collective is the best band ever, eh?
TO BE CONTINUED:
(Part II tentatively titled “I’m a hipster, what do I do now?”)