Apr 6, 2007

Kill a Scene: The Hipster Dilemma.

Permit me a bit of a rant. I can't stand hipsters. I feel like they're infecting all the places that I like to go where I think I'll be able to escape the faddism of general pop culture and all the fakeness that comes out of it. But of course, this fungus has spread into so many spaces that it's killing me. I've been asked what I think a hipster is. Well, to me, it's someone who dresses very particularly to look like s/he isn't trying to achieve a particular look, which I guess isn't as rigid of a definition as the requisite uniforms of folks who actually commit to a genre.

And maybe that's the thing: hipsters are ultimately people who are so noncommittal, to anything and everything, that they shift from fad to fad, playing it off as if they are at the "edge" of the cool, while fucking up the vibe for the rest of us in our respective "just around the corner" spots. How do you chill in a spot where people are trying so conspicuously to seem like they're supposed to be there? Especially when the race factor comes into play, though a friend made the observation that the "people of color on stage to hipster ratio is like, 1 to 5." But still, there's this weird dynamic when you have people coming to events because it's alt.pop, and that means that it's either political, "ethnic," or in some other way underground.

These hipsters, the folks with the wardrobes carefully chosen and hair tossed just right to make them look disaffected, nonplussed, and casual, must either be massively networked to come out to shows and events in such brute force nowadays, or it's just that some events are clear magnets for their ilk. Wow. I just found this article, which much more succinctly sums up many of the elements of what I hate about hipsters. They are not counter-culture or post-mainstream. The piece actually makes it out well: they are the new mainstream, especially in urban spots like Brooklyn and San Fran. It's this commodification of "cool," or trying to be cool, that really annoys the shit out of me. I like people who go deep in things. I enjoy conversations with folks who are actually really into something, and have been with it for a while. There's a harmonic vibe I feel from that, and if the person is talking about fly-fishing but seems to love being able to share it, well, that's awesome, and I do my best to keep along.

But what do hipsters talk about? I mean, do they have much depth? And is what I feel true: that they're mainly just a bunch of well-off white kids trying to create a "bohemian" lifestyle without any of the passion, ideals, or at least "I don't give a fuck" attitude of past (and current) groups? I just don't get it. I love hanging out with true bohos. Because they just don't care about what everyone else is doing. It's sort of the East Village of the not-so-distant past, when you just felt more free to express and explore who you were, and you had this loose community of people who were doing the same thing, and finally didn't feel like freaks for liking stuff that was non-mainstream and out there. It wasn't a "Scene"... it was just a bunch of micro-scenes that people went in and out of, but it wasn't as faddy as hipster "culture" (I cringe at giving hipster tendencies any cultural significance). It's just weird. I mean, if you seem to eschew the mainstream, you should be thinking about capitalism and marketing and what elements of "cool" are being marketed to you and what you're just reinforcing with your actions.

But that level of consciousness is completely lacking in the hipsters I've come into contact with. It's epic narcissism, with white kids looking at themselves and thinking that they're creating some kind of new tribe of the cool. I don't see hipsters as being a real community, but I may be wrong. I mean, I think it's ultimately every dude for himself. And "I think I'm cooler than you." It's like high school all over again. But in this weird way where instead of just keeping away from the metal heads and the brown and black kids and saying "look how uncool," the popular clique is coming to our events, getting up in our spaces, and making that their playground as part of their coolness.

Hipsters seem like just another weird outgrowth of white privilege, fucking up the vibe in vibrant subcultures as they go, essentially asserting a right to be there and leave there with no respect for anything. Basically - anyone should feel free to step into a scene, but not just to be seen, know what I mean? And that's what annoys me more than anything. Just freakin' commit already. I guess their apolitical nature also bothers me - there's nothing less counter-culture than just sucking up to the materialism that's around us, and not having anything critical to add to the dialogue. I mean, at least the Marxists sitting in their coffee shops talking about the revolution are still engaging things in some way. Hipsters are just mold on the food that is our culture.

I almost feel like skipping the stuff I'd rather go to, which has become infested with hipsters at every turn, and just going to something so over the top that they wouldn't be caught dead there for fear of being branded uncool. I mean, isn't Genesis touring again? Or is Yanni around? Suddenly the hyper-commercialized becomes so anti-hip that it's hip?

Is that the game we have to play? Fuck it cousin, I'm just unplugging if this is how it's gonna go. I'll cook my own food to stay away from them in the cheap eats around town. I'll start my own band and play in my head for hours, safe from the hordes. I'll visit folks and skip consumer leisure culture all together. And when those mofos catch on that it's the next movement, I'm locking my door behind me.


Anonymous said...

Thank god I randomly stumbled across this blog. Reading this has made me so happy.

I could not agree with you more!

Excellent thoughts.

Rage said...

anon: thanks for stumbling, reading, and dropping a note! Feel free to go out there and mislead a hipster about what's cool!

Deepal said...

hehe, "It's like high school all over again. But in this weird way where instead of just keeping away from the metal heads and the brown and black kids and saying "look how uncool," the popular clique is coming to our events, getting up in our spaces, and making that their playground as part of their coolness."

I think you hit that on the button

Rage said...

deepal - thanks. I mean, really! Just create your own space, or commit to ours. None of this sampling crap!

burnedouteyes said...

Ha ha

This is a great rant. I can't stand hipsters. I won't go to certain concerts b/c the crowd sickens me.

You got it right.

Rage said...

Seems like I'm getting more hits on this issue than I expected. It's good to know that I'm not alone. I can take most things, but I can't take poseurs.

brown sugar said...

Love your very truthful commentary on hipsters. I spent almost the entire weekend going to hipster events in SF (Muse was in town), and they still baffle me.
Also, it is interesting that my group of girlfriends and I (an eclectic mix of Chinese, Filipina, and me, the token Desi) are the only people of color at these events and I go for the music rather than the scene (not fake enough to be a hipster).

Rage said...

brown sugar: thanks for your thoughts. Muse is pretty damn good though, so I can't fault folks for turning out. But still, it's just weird how they're everywhere, enit?

belledame222 said...

Williamsburg is the worst.

Rage said...

Lived there for a while, when it was mainly artists moving in, though I think that there was that transition happening where the yuppies were coming in. Funny thing is, I think the art galleries came in after the artists got priced out. Funny how that works - wasn't SoHo the same deal?

Anyway, I don't know if I could tell the difference between hipsters and yuppies at that time. I mean, really, is it just that a hipster is a yuppie trying to look like the artists he's displaying?

Woah. That's deep AND fucked up.

It's as if colonizers pushed out the locals and then took up their customs as if they were their own, instead of getting the locals to conform to them (ala White Mask, Black Face). Man. I have to think more about that. What an insult!

Bq said...

reminded me of this post:


Rage said...

Wow bq. I could have just linked to that and been done with it!