Wednesday, August 06, 2008

hipster - the beat and the beautiful

last week i picked up the new adbusters magazine. the cover pointed to a scathing article of the hipster subculture which as many of you know has been influenced greatly by the providence art/music scene (the prov-scene has been influenced by hipsterdom as well)

if you're a bit confused by this term hipster this helps (a little) - hipster wiki

in so many ways the article said everything i've ever wanted to say about the trend. as Sage Francis puts it - "Trustafundian rebel without a cause for alarm, Cause when push turns to shove You jump into your forefathers arms..."

it's really an old story of image based on perceived depth (anti consumerist, anti image, anti corporate art, anti "the man," communal) - but seems to have more to do with v-neck t-shirts than anything else.

- it's a great article - please read it. but....

Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization
We’ve reached a point in our civilization where counterculture has mutated into a self-obsessed aesthetic vacuum. So while hipsterdom is the end product of all prior countercultures, it’s been stripped of its subversion and originality.

...i did take issue with the essay:

I think that though adbusters perfectly capture the archetypal skinny denim and flannel clad hipster sporting wayfarers on his fixed gear bike, their critiques are one sided. I can recognize that within the group there is a burgeoning homogeneity despite the fact that its respective members seem to pride themselves on their individuality. I think this is a result of the hipster scene becoming increasingly mainstream.

With the mainstream comes people trying to capitalize on the niche, marketing, and then finally people who just buy into the aesthetic; posers. In the past, the transition into the mainstream has killed many counter culture movements. It seems like an inevitable cycle, so to target hipsters seems unfair. When the beat movement went mainstream, it too seemed to lose its spirit, and it consequently received similar criticism to that which you direct toward this generation. But there are some admirable facets of this group that adbusters seem to write off as insufferable.

What's wrong with riding bicycles when there is an environmental crises at hand? What's wrong with choosing to wear American Apparel (besides the ads) because it is manufactured in the United States by workers who are not subject to the terrible working conditions of sweatshops like those elsewhere, who are not receiving unfairly low wages, and who are not children? What's wrong with supporting the arts even if it is only through a 'loose association.' Sure an increasingly gigantic cross section of this group is comprised of posers, and its always a drag when something cool is killed by a bunch of trend sluts, but I don't think its fair to condemn everything about it.


Jon Betz said...

I agree with you. It's interesting to get some back history and more specifics on Hipster-ism. I try to explain it to people out west and it's near impossible. Especially in small town Walla Walla, WA.

I'll have to read the article.

renee said...

and the posers are what we call "scenesters" who have the look but not the underlying ideals.

here's the thing: we all are tremendously less independent than we imagine. most of the decisions we make about our own image are impacted by ads, by our peers, by what we have access to, what we can afford... and it is easiest to identify with one subculture or another and talk like them, dress like them, and listen to their music. the thing that can be insufferable about "hipsters" is their propensity to imagine that they are doing this less than everybody else.

in which case, please stereotype them(us). we're all trend sluts in the end :-)

Suzanna said...

haha, you said trend sluts.