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In a City of Hipstercrites
May 2, 2013 7:15 AM   Subscribe

How I Became a Hipster (SLNYT)
posted by shivohum (155 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
No.
posted by gwint at 7:19 AM on May 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


I may not be able to define "hipster," but it is a slam dunk that the author isn't one.
posted by Repack Rider at 7:20 AM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


For the record, the print version of this story featured the inexplicable headline "Will.i.amsburg." Can you believe the NY Times Style section has clueless editors??
posted by stopgap at 7:21 AM on May 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


NYT style section ☑
"hipster" ☑
"artisinal food" ☑
williamsburg ☑

obvious trolling is obvious
posted by ninjew at 7:22 AM on May 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


This is the most perfect Style Section article ever written. Behold it well for its like shall not be seen again
posted by theodolite at 7:23 AM on May 2, 2013 [14 favorites]


I was trying to explain Hipsters to someone I knew and after about 10 minutes of describing what they do and what they like and what they wear, she looked at me and said - "So, just like you then."

And despite the fact that I don't tend to like anything ironically - The answer was "Yes, just like me."

I've tried to stop hating Hipsters so much since then.
posted by zoo at 7:25 AM on May 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sigh.
posted by nevercalm at 7:26 AM on May 2, 2013


Metrosexual? Or hipster? So confused by all these labels.
posted by crapmatic at 7:26 AM on May 2, 2013


It's gotten to the point where we all need to take a deep breath and pledge to stop clicking on this trolling, link-bait garbage that annoys us. Think really hard before you give something a click. Does this go to the Huffington Post? Does this go to the NYT? Will this be a good outcome? Do I want to reward this behavior?

Can I preconstruct the entire article I'm about to read in my head before I read it? If so, then I'm not being enlightened, just tickled.
posted by selfnoise at 7:26 AM on May 2, 2013 [32 favorites]


Hipsters and NYT.

*looks for fonzie*
posted by arcticseal at 7:26 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


The term hipster is kind of dumb. It's super easy to hate people for a variety of reasons. And fun!
posted by DU at 7:26 AM on May 2, 2013


I think the main picture in that article signals an LL Bean store opening up in Williamsburg soon.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:27 AM on May 2, 2013


I try to imagine who this is written for, and how they're reacting. "Oh, how useful! An article that explains those strange men selling the cheese at the Union Square farmers market," the dowager said from within her $9 million Park Avenue co-op.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:27 AM on May 2, 2013 [22 favorites]


“Brooklyn” is now a byword for cool from Paris to Sweden to the Middle East.

Um, this guy does realize that there's a hell of a lot of Brooklyn that's not hipster-gentrified and full of artisanal everything, right?

Oh, nytimes lolhipster piece, of course not.
posted by ActionPopulated at 7:28 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


New Yorkers. Sigh.
posted by koeselitz at 7:29 AM on May 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


This just reeked of smugness. I really want to believe that a lot of the people the author interacted with were all putting him on, kind of like those apocryphal stories you hear about explorers asking local tribesmen how to say "Hello" and they instead tell him the word for "butt" as a joke.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:31 AM on May 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


God, that is a terrible article. I mean, it gets at some interesting stuff, a little - the whole situation of being middle aged and how that changes your relationship to youth culture. I am very aware of this myself in my late thirties. You get used to being part of "youth culture" because you are young first, after all, and then you realize over time that the zeitgeist has changed and you have not, or that you've changed but not in sync with the zeitgeist. It's just like when you look at pictures of people in local bands who've been around for a while, for example, and you realize that they got their start in, like, 1996 and their whole style right down to haircuts and make-up is basically preserved in amber from that time. Or you realize that as much as you keep up with the men's style blogs and everything, your fashion preferences were set in the early nineties and you are way more grunge-minimalist than is the fashion now....and all that matters, in a strange little way, because while you may be forty you're not dead, and you want to go on listening to music and learning new things, but you realize that your approach is really foreign to the approach of the kids in their twenties and you have to resign yourself to getting a lot of weird looks.

Also, I am reminded of the fact that there are basically two hipsterdoms, the rich and the poor - and that this distinction is rarely drawn out. The young-and-trendy people I know are broke - they aren't affinity marketers with $250 jackets - and this changes the kind of culture they produce.

It also reminds me that as the economy polarizes, more and more of the people who set the broader cultural tone will be rich people who can afford to do whatever one does to become a bearded "affinity marketer"; the tone of the culture will be more and more geared at rich people; and what used to be the outward signs of bohemia will/do no longer signal particularly progressive politics. I mean, back in the day, if you wore goofy clothes and grew your own herbs, it was because you were a hippie and you were plugged in to a certain political worldview. Now it's just that the elites have done their usual strip-mining of the nicer parts of the poor kind of counterculture - better food, avoiding sweatshop crap if you can afford to do so - and made it their thing, a gentrification of cultural habits.
posted by Frowner at 7:31 AM on May 2, 2013 [63 favorites]


"How I Learned to Self-Identify With the In-Group By Putting On Some Clothes and Speaking the Lingo."
posted by P.o.B. at 7:32 AM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


“Brooklyn” is now a byword for cool from Paris to Sweden to the Middle East.

From a city to a country to a vaguely defined geographic region? Way to parallelism, NYT style section.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:37 AM on May 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


"If this is anybody but John Howard Griffin, you're stealing my bit!"
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:37 AM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Didn't we just fucking do this yesterday?
posted by nathancaswell at 7:38 AM on May 2, 2013


I was trying to explain Hipsters to someone I knew and after about 10 minutes of describing what they do and what they like and what they wear, she looked at me and said - "So, just like you then."

And despite the fact that I don't tend to like anything ironically - The answer was "Yes, just like me."


I'm not even that much of a hipster, but when trying to explain the term to my dad he had the same reaction. I explained that they were totally different because they could grow beards and I couldn't, but then he said "I've got a beard, am I a hipster?" and the conversation was basically a total loss.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:39 AM on May 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


I drank a PBR for the first time yesterday.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 7:40 AM on May 2, 2013


kind of like those apocryphal stories you hear about explorers asking local tribesmen how to say "Hello" and they instead tell him the word for "butt" as a joke.

I assure you, those stories are quite real.
posted by theodolite at 7:40 AM on May 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


Metahipster?
posted by swift at 7:41 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've decided that we can stop talking about the "no true Scotsman" fallacy, and instead start discussing the "true Hipster fallacy". In the modern take, an individual is repeatedly accused of being a hipster, but always attempt to rebuff the label: "Well, a true hipster would have waxed his moustache", or "wouldn't actually need a prescription for these glasses", or "would've made up his own fallacy nobody has ever heard of".

My point? Maybe there's a little hipster in all of us.
posted by twooster at 7:41 AM on May 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


See also. And also.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:47 AM on May 2, 2013


I was thinking about this yesterday, when the office told me I was the office hipster, and I realized why it pissed me off. They weren't wrong, mind - crappy hair cut and beard, make my own bacon and beer, go to indie shows, working on art, forwarded hilariously terrible things, etc - but the idea of being a label, something dismissed in a box pissed me off. I can't think of any labels like this that aren't dismissive.

Also, Will.i.amsburg would've been such a better headline.
posted by OrangeDrink at 7:49 AM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is garbage. Still waiting for the trend article that actually paints a picture of how Williamsburg actually is, not as a stereotype of mustachioed fixie-riding Lena Dunham acolytes. There's a large Puerto Rican community. A large Jewish community. A large Polish community. People who run businesses. People who work in a thousand different industries. Rich people. Poor people. Good food. Bad food. Some hipsters. Way more normal people just trying to carry on with their lives who get bothered every time some New York Times writer discovers Williamsburg and treats it like they've gone on African safari.
posted by chasing at 7:52 AM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I drank a PBR for the first time yesterday.

Did you feel cool or did you realise it was the same watered down swill that cheap people have been drinking for hundreds of years?

A yes to either or both is an acceptable answer.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:54 AM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Um, this guy does realize that there's a hell of a lot of Brooklyn that's not hipster-gentrified and full of artisanal everything, right?

Yeah it's funny to me because the mythos of Brooklyn that I grew up with after we moved away when I was little was that the whole damn borough trembled in the shadow of "Mr. Wonderful," as they called him, my parents' next-door neighbor on Wyckoff Street who stole their screen door on a number of occasions and was a generally snarling, intimidating sort otherwise. To think that the whole time he was probably just constructing an urban chicken coop!
posted by invitapriore at 7:55 AM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


The NYT Style Section is literally the thing I hate most about living in New York City.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:57 AM on May 2, 2013


I was thinking about this yesterday, when the office told me I was the office hipster, and I realized why it pissed me off. They weren't wrong, mind - crappy hair cut and beard, make my own bacon and beer, go to indie shows, working on art, forwarded hilariously terrible things, etc - but the idea of being a label, something dismissed in a box pissed me off. I can't think of any labels like this that aren't dismissive.

I don't know, I use labels like that in ways that are affectionate fairly regularly. I call people I knew growing up rednecks, which is a label and a prejorative one at that, but I mean it in a nice way. I call the owner of the dive bar at the end of my street a hipster, but not to belittle his choice to have a horseshoe mustache

The way people dress, their hobbies, etc. are all basically costuming. That's not to say is disingenuous, you pick the costume that you like for whatever reason and that makes it a fairly true expression of yourself. I think of labels like hipster as a way to point that you've noticed and understand someone's choice of costume, but also to gently remind people that costuming is inherently a little ridiculous.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:58 AM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I didn't read the article. I came directly to the comments to see how angry y'all real New Yorkers would be. I am not disappointed. Please continue!
posted by sixohsix at 7:58 AM on May 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Every time I read a hipster hate thing here I think about all the local mefi meetups I go to and I think, yep, that's us. (For some value of "us.")

These days, I try to keep myself from hating on hipsters. Unless they are people in line ahead of me for coffee or brunch or artisanal donuts.
posted by rtha at 8:00 AM on May 2, 2013


They weren't wrong, mind - crappy hair cut and beard, make my own bacon and beer, go to indie shows, working on art, forwarded hilariously terrible things, etc - but the idea of being a label, something dismissed in a box pissed me off. I can't think of any labels like this that aren't dismissive.

What? Dork and nerd are two and despite the whole internet reclamation of the word geek, I can tell you that my hopelessly cool [Brooklynite] sister thinks it's hilarious that I've gone to see Star Trek: TNG episodes in the theater and that I once referred to a dress as an "SF" dress, meaning "sci-fi" not "San Francisco."

Whatever. Embrace it, man. If I can be a dork--and just roll my eyes at people who would judge me for this shit, and they still do, out side of TwitaMetafilturbia--you can be a hipster.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:01 AM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


In which we learn that if Metafilter has to choose between snarking about damn Brooklyn hipsters and snarking about the NYT style section, the style section is going down.
posted by yoink at 8:01 AM on May 2, 2013 [14 favorites]


The NYT is always good at keeping us in touch with what the young people are up to.
posted by stevil at 8:07 AM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe there's a little hipster in all of us.

"Got a little hipster in you? Would you like one?"
posted by octobersurprise at 8:07 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Doesn't the NYT know that people have been making fun of hipsters well before it was cool to do so?
posted by MoonOrb at 8:11 AM on May 2, 2013


The NYT is always good at keeping us in touch with what the young people are up to.

Oh, yeah, I remember when that happened. I still have that issue of the Baffler, actually, although the Baffler itself shows what happens when you were once right on the money, zeitgeist-wise, and now are not but don't really realize this fact.
posted by Frowner at 8:16 AM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, a purposely annoying article. However -

Next I told Rich: “I could also use some mustache counseling. My boyfriend has been growing a ’stache and I want to be supportive.” Rich looked confused. I said, “Well, it is sort of like having a small, hairy new pet in the home.”

That I enjoyed.
posted by Windigo at 8:16 AM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wonder if "hippies" had the same problem in 1975 or "punks" in say 1989? Was anyone around and involved in those scenes back then?

I can't help but theorize that maybe all of this hand-wringing, self-loathing and label-baiting has something to do with a general trend toward a high level of cultural awareness. Maybe a "hipster" is just someone who is hyper-sensitive to cultural signifiers like clothing, music and food.
posted by mr.ersatz at 8:16 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


My parents are always asking me about this latest, newest thing they saw in the Times and then get pissed that I can produce an email or blog post about it from years before. I keep saying "The 'new' and 'times' in New York Times are not for 'new' and 'timely.'"
posted by nevercalm at 8:17 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think I hate hipsters so much as I despise co-opting aspects of society that you have no relation to to lend yourself some semblance of "authenticity". I know lots of people who actually give a shit about raising chickens, or making bacon, or music—but they've been doing that for a really long time, sometimes a life time. What gets into really awful, icky territory for me are these 25 year olds putting on the vestments of working people and playing dress up as farmers or bike messengers.

When I was a kid, there was this subset of rich preppy kids who all sort of simultaneously decided that they'd have their parents buy them lifted pickup trucks, and they'd start wearing John Deere hats and plaid shirts. They thought this was hilarious and somehow tough at the same time, ignoring of course that there were hundreds of people in our community who dressed that way to, you know, work for a living.

The hipster thing for me really just speaks to a generation (that I'm admittedly not part of) that is absolutely adrift in a sea of a million opportunities, unprecedented wealth and access, and no idea about what to do with it all except look one hundred years into the past for some guide. I try to be fair about it, and imagine that some of these people are really lost, and to feel compassionate about it. But then I see somebody with an anchor tattoo smoking a pipe and riding a velocipede, and it's pretty difficult.

And I bought some selvedge jeans and their really fucking comfortable. So. You know. Conflicted.
posted by littlerobothead at 8:18 AM on May 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


They send me to Brooklyn and I find job in pickle factory. Every day, I crawl through gears and pull out rats. Is not so easy. The rats have sharp teeth and do not like to be touched. (Previously.)
posted by maudlin at 8:18 AM on May 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


Additionally, I’ve realized that, since so many of the components of the Brooklyn movement were being done to less fanfare in Portland a decade earlier, it’s important to sympathize with that Oregonian precursor.

So what happens if Armisen and Brownstein visit Portlandia? Will we get a song?

Fred: I just got back from Brooklyn, and you wouldn't believe what I saw there!"

Carrie: Oh? What was that?

Fred: You remember back when everyone rode fixed gear bikes?

Carrie: Sure, it's how I got several scars!

Fred: You recall when men wore beards like scarves, people butchered their own meat and flannel was worn everywhere?

Carrie: I still own my flannel!

Fred: Carrie, the Dream of Portland is still alive in Brooklyn!

Cue song....
posted by Atreides at 8:19 AM on May 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


The NYT Style Section is literally the thing I hate most about living in New York City

Think of it as the NYT's version of the funny pages and it becomes a real hoot.
posted by kokaku at 8:25 AM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


What the fuck did I just read.
posted by the cydonian at 8:27 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Think of it as the NYT's version of the funny pages and it becomes a real hoot.

This is exactly me. Ever since I saw the treatment they give librarians--a group I am actually an active proud member of--I'm very cognizant of the difference between the thing as it is and the thing as the NYTimes likes to portray it to its readers. Or, to put it the way a pal of mine did "This is just trolling, right?"
posted by jessamyn at 8:28 AM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


What gets into really awful, icky territory for me are these 25 year olds putting on the vestments of working people and playing dress up as farmers or bike messengers.

But what if that is what they actually enjoy doing? Since they have 'more opportunity', as you put it, they should look down on wanting a job where they work with their hands or body instead of behind a desk? That is how I read what you're saying.

Sure, there may be some out there who are lost (as there are everywhere) but in general I think you have a generation (or a subset of a generation) who see what happened to their parents or older siblings who bought into the white-collar dream and how it is failing them and decided to do something they enjoy.

I have a acquaintance, for example, who is a bee-keeper here in Chicago. She transports and does upkeep by bike. In fact, it's called 'Bike a Bee.'

Trust me, she is not remotely lost.
posted by Windigo at 8:28 AM on May 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


When I was a teenager growing up in Brooklyn in the 70s/80s, my cousin and I would go into the city and hang out in the village pretending we were from Manhattan. Now that I live in city, all my friends want to do is go to some hip new restaurant or bar in Brooklyn. I've decided that the problem isn't hipsters or the return of white flight or economics. The problem is me. Everything cool or interesting will always be in some other place where I am not.
posted by cazoo at 8:30 AM on May 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


/reads article

I'm pretty sure a shark has just been jumped, but I am mightily confused as to who did the jumping.
posted by usonian at 8:31 AM on May 2, 2013


The hipster thing for me really just speaks to a generation (that I'm admittedly not part of) that is absolutely adrift in a sea of a million opportunities, unprecedented wealth and access, and no idea about what to do with it all except look one hundred years into the past for some guide.

If you think young people today are awash in limitless opportunities and wealth then I can tell you're not part of this generation. Some of us are, but most of us aren't, and you'll find hipsters in both camps.

I agree that part of the hipster thing is the search for authenticity in the past, but I don't think the lack of authenticity in the contemporary experience has as much to do with wealth and privilege as it does with the lack of roots most young urban white people have. I live in Washington, DC where a popular thing among the people I think of as hipsters is to get a tattoo of the DC flag. I associate that with people who, having moved to a place where they have no real roots, need to do something to make this place their home.

When I was a kid, there was this subset of rich preppy kids who all sort of simultaneously decided that they'd have their parents buy them lifted pickup trucks, and they'd start wearing John Deere hats and plaid shirts. They thought this was hilarious and somehow tough at the same time, ignoring of course that there were hundreds of people in our community who dressed that way to, you know, work for a living.

Would you feel this way if the people who wore John Deere hats originally slapped on some of those absurd pants that preppy kids like to wear? If not, I think it's worth considering that the problem is less cultural co-opting, and more that a lot of the people who do it are assholes. There's no reason that you should have to dress like your station in life all the time, if you like how a different style of dress makes you look and feel.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:31 AM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


The New York Observer take on the Times article: The New York Times Runs Out of Brooklyn Trends; Just Sending ‘Investigative Humorist’ to Mock Williamsburg Now
posted by plastic_animals at 8:35 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


What gets into really awful, icky territory for me are these 25 year olds putting on the vestments of working people and playing dress up as farmers or bike messengers.

Eh. Ridiculous in the same way that watching a 50 year old pretend to be a 25 year old is ridiculous, maybe, but that's it, really. Right? I mean, beyond the ridiculousness rising out of someone's (possibly) overly self-absorbed self, what's "really awful" about someone playing dress-up?

I want to be an investigative humorist.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:38 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I follow them down Avenue A. The Lower East Side, I notice, has not changed much in one hundred years. The women are still emaciated and dressed in rags; the men still wear beards and have sad eyes.

Thank you, maudlin. I will laugh for days over that link.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:39 AM on May 2, 2013


The hipster thing for me really just speaks to a generation (that I'm admittedly not part of) that is absolutely adrift in a sea of a million opportunities, unprecedented wealth and access, and no idea about what to do with it all except look one hundred years into the past for some guide. I try to be fair about it, and imagine that some of these people are really lost, and to feel compassionate about it. But then I see somebody with an anchor tattoo smoking a pipe and riding a velocipede, and it's pretty difficult.

A couple people have already jumped on you for this, so I won't be too snarky, but... yeah, not so much with the unprecedented wealth and opportunity, man.

Also... look, lots of people would probably call me a hipster, given that I'm a Brooklyn beekeeper who works at an NGO and enjoys banjo music and growing my own herbs and thrift stores and local artisanal cheese and shit. But... I honestly DO like all of these things. What would you prefer I do? Reject anything with the trappings of hipsterdom just so I don't come across as fake to people who have no idea what my life is like anyway?
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:41 AM on May 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


I wonder if "hippies" had the same problem in 1975 or "punks" in say 1989?

What problem?
posted by scratch at 8:47 AM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Many people try on the trappings of whatever makes for "hipster" in their area (urban chickens or bees or riding and fixing unusual bikes or whathaveyou) and then discover that they like those things. Maybe at first they tried them because it was "cool" and all their friends are doing it, but then hey! Genuine like and appreciation and desire to learn. Why not? Forty years ago hippies moved to Vermont to be farmers. A bunch of them probably found out that it was not a life for them, but lots of them discovered it was and stayed and raised kids (who are probably now moving to Brooklyn or something and doing the urban hipster thing).
posted by rtha at 8:49 AM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also... look, lots of people would probably call me a hipster, given that I'm a Brooklyn beekeeper who works at an NGO and enjoys banjo music and growing my own herbs and thrift stores and local artisanal cheese and shit.

The banjo music thing jumped out at me because I also like banjo music and I'm an youngish* urban white person, but I'm also a Southerner whose ancestors include some honest to goodness hillbillies. I don't dress like a hipster, but I do get into some of the food and alcohol trends. I'm mostly too lazy to be into hobbies, but I do like a good dive bar with cheap beer; I prefer Natty Boh to PBR, but it's kind of the same space, and I drink it for more or less authenticity related reasons.

Now, I could try to suss out whether or not I'm allowed to like banjo music without it being offensive to poor people in Appalachia, or I could just listen to the banjo music because banjos are awesome.

*I turn 30 this year, but I'm holding on to this label while I can
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:49 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


The NYT Style Section is literally the thing I hate most about living in New York City.


Really? For me, it was all the fucking New Yorkers.
posted by slogger at 8:50 AM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wonder if "hippies" had the same problem in 1975 or "punks" in say 1989?

I think the punks' problem was perfectly illustrated in 1982.
posted by maudlin at 9:05 AM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can we all just be who we are? Can what we like and what we do not matter except to us and the people we love?

Nerd, hipster, bike punk, or artisanal cheese-making, beard-wearing, beekeeping, butcher wannabe.

Masculine, feminine, genderqueer, poly, asexual, mono, blended family whatever.

Embrace it.

Who cares what label you choose. Who cares what label others put on you. You've got this one life. Or as my role model, Auntie Mame says,

"Live! Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!"
posted by Sophie1 at 9:07 AM on May 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


I am not going to read this particular fuckin' article, because duh and also because duh. But I do come bearing good news! Now that hipsterhood has been embraced by the NYT style section, it is totally over. We are ALL hipsters now. Let the celebrations commence!
posted by brina at 9:13 AM on May 2, 2013


That picture is funny.He is rocking brown pants and a brooks brothers knockoff shirt.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:17 AM on May 2, 2013


I think a lot of these questions of class and cultural appropriation are case-by-case, and this gets obscured in larger, more general pieces.

And I also think that these questions point to systemic issues of inequality - that's why they are felt so deeply.

Yes, it's pretty creepy when some obnoxious rich person is wearing a trucker cap because he thinks working class people are hiLARious and not actually really real like he is real - when the point of the outfit is the amusing, piquant contrast between the wealth, urbanity, health and youth of the person actually wearing the hat and the stereotype of poverty, lack-of-education and physical misery that people associate with the hat. That is pretty unpleasant and usually reflects unpleasant self-absorption. And I've certainly met people who dress this way - it's a kick to wear clothes usually associated with working class occupations precisely because they themselves are not working class and will never have to do those jobs.

But then what if you buy workwear because it's useful and durable for when you're doing stuff around town? What if you have a Cleveland souvenir tee shirt because you really like Cleveland, and not in some "it's hilarious that a person such as myself really likes Cleveland" way? (I used to have a Cleveland souvenir tee shirt because I really liked Cleveland, just for itself. I still do like Cleveland.)

I mean, the real problem is systemic inequality. If you're somebody who wears workwear because you do some lousy job outside in the horrible weather for very little money, it's pretty unpleasant to go to the clothes store and rub elbows with some "affinity marketer" who went to Choate and makes a hundred times what you do and who is talking about how cheap and traditional Dickies are. It is unpleasant, albeit in a different way, to realize that the Choatie is also wearing a $500 artisan hand-crafted version of the canvas work coat that you got second hand and were happy to find at that.

But if you were making good wages and the Choatie was making not-such-stupid-elite ones, and we had a proper healthcare system and things weren't so shitty in general, you wouldn't care.

There's no law that says you can't dress and act like an elitist, clueless, overprivileged asshole, but it's more aesthetically appealing not to do so. This doesn't have anything to do with whether you can keep bees if the spirit moves you.
posted by Frowner at 9:20 AM on May 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


Next week in the NY Times Styles section, our food critic borrows a friend's kid and pretends to be a parent in Cobble Hill for a couple days because how does that even work? Also 15 strollers that cost more than the annual GDP of Benin -- a comparative review.
posted by gompa at 9:23 AM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


It is unpleasant, albeit in a different way, to realize that the Choatie is also wearing a $500 artisan hand-crafted version of the canvas work coat that you got second hand and were happy to find at that.

Actually, having been the broke-ass person on the end of similar such interactions, my usual reaction when I hear someone is spending $500 on an "artisinal" version of something I either made myself or got for a couple bucks from a thrift store is to think, "wow, are YOU ever a chump."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:27 AM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I sell vintage clothes for a living, write fanfiction, and don't believe in liking things ironically. I've decided the authenticity police can go fuck themselves, basically. I like things! It's fine to like them!
posted by nonasuch at 9:29 AM on May 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


I mean, back in the day, if you wore goofy clothes and grew your own herbs, it was because you were a hippie and you were plugged in to a certain political worldview. Now it's just that the elites have done their usual strip-mining of the nicer parts of the poor kind of counterculture…

In fairness to the elites, when a counterculture knows itself through fashion, music, food, bikes and other consumer products, you shouldn't be surprised that it turns into the innovation department for global capitalism.

You might even say that counterculture is the group that tried to co-opt consumerism—and got co-opted instead. It's predictable, and at some point you have to stop blaming capitalism, and start blaming the well-meaning idiots for their superficial pseudo-radicality.
posted by AlsoMike at 9:30 AM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Reading stuff like this always reminds me of those scenes in "Frasier" (played for laughs) when Fraiser and Niles are fussing/fawning over hand-stitched hand towels, or a 17th century salt server. It's usually about that time their dad rolls his eyes like "oh jeez" and shuffles out of the room.

(actually come to think of it, a common joke is Martin's ugly green La-Z-Boy being in the middle of Frasier's delicately decorated fancy-pants apartment being a source of frustration for Frasier, but remarked on by his high-society pals as some kind of 'statement')
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:34 AM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


He looks oddly like Al Bundy in that picture at the top of the article.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 9:37 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was thinking about this yesterday, when the office told me I was the office hipster, and I realized why it pissed me off. They weren't wrong, mind - crappy hair cut and beard, make my own bacon and beer, go to indie shows, working on art, forwarded hilariously terrible things, etc - but the idea of being a label, something dismissed in a box pissed me off. I can't think of any labels like this that aren't dismissive.
record them telling you that then show them the recording while recording that and do a metacommentary of the second recording with some friends while you are drunk/on K and end the world. end it. tear open the womb of the sky and let the firmament give birth to nothingness. nothing left but protons and stellar wind.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:38 AM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


It is unpleasant, albeit in a different way, to realize that the Choatie is also wearing a $500 artisan hand-crafted version of the canvas work coat that you got second hand and were happy to find at that.

My experience has been different in this regard, living in a community that has mostly the functional work coat and almost none of the hipster work coat. The status markers just aren't status markers in the same way. Like the guy at Chip's Auto literally doesn't give a shit about Choate or bespoke anything or the guy who wears it in any special way, he just wants to get paid and drive his truck and he loves our town and if you love the town too you can be acquaintances and that's sort of it. But maybe there's a different vibe when the people "authentically" wearing Carhartts vastly outnumber the people wearing them ironically or in whatever people consider a hipster way. There's a much more obvious "Hey I LIKE this" aspect to the few hipster types we have here and a lot less "Here I'm TAKING this from you" aspect. Like, if you're in a place where there are still a lot of farmers, dressing like a farmer is seen much more as a tribute (though perhaps a silly one) than a theft.

The thing I always find weird about the NYT sendups of this stuff is that they assume we all agree about things like status markers and "who is on top" because those things are so terribly important to the New York Times but in a lot of places, the status stuff doesn't play out along the same lines. I mean money is still a marker, but what you decide to do with that money is much much less important. I used to feel weirdly conspicuous with my Macbook Air at a coffee shop here until I realized that people mostly felt sorry for me because I drove a ten year old Subaru and not a new truck. The world is full of all sorts of people and the NYT only reports on some of them and for some of them.
posted by jessamyn at 9:41 AM on May 2, 2013 [14 favorites]


Is the anti-hipster issue a question of authenticity? It seems like the hipster trailblazers feel like they came into being a hipster naturally and never tagged themselves as a hipster since they were just being themselves. And then these new people come along and deliberately adopt the look and lifestyle as if they're pulling it off of a checklist. And to make sure you know what they're going for, they feel the need to identify themselves as a hipster.

I tend to have a hard time with people that try too hard to be one of the cool kids to the point of being insincere, and that’s the vibe I get anytime the “I hate hipsters” things comes up here. That and I still have a hard time even saying “hipster” as anything other than a nostalgic reference to beatniks and jazzheads of the 40’s and 50’s.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 9:43 AM on May 2, 2013


It is more like two million people who felt out of place in high school all moved to New York. It used to be models and people who wanted to be on broadway, now it is every dude who liked Deerhoof. We probably made New York too safe, gotta look into increasing the crime rate.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:49 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


We probably made New York too safe, gotta look into increasing the crime rate.

I have lived in New York for 20 years and would rather you didn't, thank you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:51 AM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have lived in New York for 20 years and would rather you didn't, thank you.

Fine, we can at least spread rumors though right?
posted by Ad hominem at 9:53 AM on May 2, 2013


Is the anti-hipster issue a question of authenticity?

I think that "authenticity," the drive to be "authentic," the constant ferreting-out of "inauthentic" (the hipster, the poseur, the diletantte) is actually the culture reinforcing itself and seeking a stimulus of the new and exciting. "Real" is probably a better way to put it. What is "real," is this "real," was that a "real experience" or did you just go to take photos and put it on your facebook?

Increasing connecitivity, social network reinforcement, instantaneous prominence - all these things contribute to "reality" as performance, or rather our increasing awareness of it.

people that try too hard to be one of the cool kids to the point of being insincere
One of the primary companents of "cool" is effortlessness. Putting more than the correct amount of effort into being "cool" is "uncool." (The correct amount of effort is known as "having taste.") I'm just glad that I put the exact correct amount of effort in, and can therefore see that anyone who is more visibly "cool" than I am is actually "uncool," due to their effort, and people who are less visibly "cool" than I am are obviously "uncool."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:01 AM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder how many of the hateful comments written about this are done by people pretending to work at a job they hate?
posted by dobie at 10:03 AM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Skimming the thread, a lot of the comments are about how awful the NYT style section is, not how awful hipsters are. A lot of the hipsters I know from college work jobs they despise.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:07 AM on May 2, 2013


What about working at a job you pretend to hate?
posted by octobersurprise at 10:07 AM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


So, hipsters wear flannel now?!

We have lost the Pacific Northwest.
posted by markkraft at 10:12 AM on May 2, 2013


We have lost the Pacific Northwest.

Are you saying that where the British Empire failed, hipsters succeeded?
posted by Atreides at 10:16 AM on May 2, 2013


a $225 ... shirt

what

what

if I could afford a $225 shirt, I would not buy a $225 shirt. Because there are shirts out there for...much less than $225.
posted by threeants at 10:34 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I hit the party and they stop in that motherfucker
They be like, "Oh, that Gucci - that's hella tight."
I'm like, "Yo - that's fifty dollars for a T-shirt."
Limited edition, let's do some simple addition
Fifty dollars for a T-shirt - that's just some ignorant bitch (shit)
I call that getting swindled and pimped (shit)
I call that getting tricked by a business
That shirt's hella dough
And having the same one as six other people in this club is a hella don't
Peep game, come take a look through my telescope
Tryna get girls from a brand? Man you hella won't
Man you hella won't."
-Macklemore, "Thrift Shop"
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:52 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think there's a sense that all the recent transplants from the hinterlands to New York have been bringing aspects of their local cultures into the city much more so in the last decade than those who came before.

People from Minnesota have been moving to the big city for decades, but in 1970 they did so with the intention of becoming New Yorkers and shedding their past selves. Nowadays they remain loud and proud about their casual interest in geology, their knowledge of bird migration patterns, and their affinity for the cheap swill they used to drink up at the cabin. And to a lot of people this is jarring and unnatural to see in an urban environment.
posted by theory at 10:59 AM on May 2, 2013


I got to the third paragraph before everything went red. I think I'm having an aneurism.




Well trolled, NYT Style section, well trolled.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:05 AM on May 2, 2013


I wonder how many of the hateful comments written about this are done by people pretending to work at a job they hate?

What has that got to do with it?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:07 AM on May 2, 2013


I have always worn flannel. Ergo, hipsters have always worn flannel.
posted by josher71 at 11:11 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the idea is that hipsters are Thoreauvian adventurers who have freed themselves from the yoke of wage labor, and anyone snarking at them (or even at an alleged humor piece about them) are drones who deny their own envy.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:11 AM on May 2, 2013


I returned the socks like an organic farmer who has learned that a friend has named her child Monsanto.

I don't know, it was kind of fun.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 11:12 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that I'm the biggest hipster on Metafilter, actually.
posted by josher71 at 11:13 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hasn't the Style Section always been about defining yourself by which expensive products you consume? Same old bullshit, different products. Yay capitalism, something for everybody!
posted by doreur at 11:14 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Funny, sounds like those people don't look at all like Wm Seward Burroughs.
posted by Twang at 11:14 AM on May 2, 2013



Now, I could try to suss out whether or not I'm allowed to like banjo music without it being offensive to poor people in Appalachia, or I could just listen to the banjo music because banjos are awesome.

Like what you like. And speaking of awesome, have you experienced the greatness known as the Great Banjo Bash of 1996? When it comes to questions of "hip" or "cool", I'm sure not a single fuck was given that day.
posted by doreur at 11:15 AM on May 2, 2013


I think the idea is that hipsters are Thoreauvian adventurers who have freed themselves from the yoke of wage labor, and anyone snarking at them (or even at an alleged humor piece about them) are drones who deny their own envy.

Most people don't know that Thoreau actually mooched off his relatives the whole time he was out at Walden.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:22 AM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have no idea what any of this is about.
posted by PHINC at 11:31 AM on May 2, 2013


This is from way upthread, but...

And despite the fact that I don't tend to like anything ironically

But who does just like or do things ironically? This is the hipster trope that just baffles me the second* most. I used to live in Portland, Ore. and now I live in Brooklyn (and for any Australians, I used to live on Smith St in Melbourne). If there is one defining feature of the people I know who cranky old people label "hipsters" it's that they're ridiculously enthusiastic about the things they pursue—to an almost comically serious level. The artisan coffee roasters, indie comic book artists, alt-folk band double bassists, the old timey barbers... they love it. They take what they do very seriously. And that's awesome, because thanks to them, we have amazing coffee, genre-defying comics, good music (released only on vinyl and cassette, which yes, is a bit annoying), and going to the hairdresser is actually a fun experience. And though the cranky old people like to label them as "trust fund kids" (note: the only people I know who have trust funds far prefer night clubs and expensive preppy clothes to raising their own chickens) who are a leech on society, many run or work for local businesses—ones that tend to be very enthusiastic about supporting other local businesses—and are typically active, engaged participants in the community.

Do we use irony as a form of humor? Of course. But I would argue that's true of most of Gen-Y, regardless of what one is wearing (or pickling). I'm pretty sure it's something we were raised with (thanks, Gen-X!), not something we just conjured out of thin air. The online community especially revels in ironic humor. And it can be very funny and clever (and also not, just like all types of humor).

Sure, I think that ironic humor is sometimes intertwined with activities or fashion or art (though rarely, I suspect, career choices). But it's so much more complicated than "John plays on an adult dodgeball team because it's ironic." Sure, John sees the silliness of adult dodgeball, but no one gives up several hours every Saturday just for the sake of irony. John enjoys playing dodgeball. He likes the physical activity, being on a team, the camaraderie.

Or, ok: I will cop to owning some tshirts that are partially funny for ironic reasons (ironic tshirts, some might say). The one which is most stereotypically so is this Nintendo Power Glove one. Part of the reason I like the shirt is that, yes, the Power Glove was hilariously shit and that the aesthetic reflects a particular dated style of design. But I don't wear the shirt because "herp derp, Power Glove." I wear it because it makes me smile. It makes other people smile. It starts great conversations about fond childhood memories and also sometimes Fred Savage with random strangers in my age group. I think the design looks cool. I also love and still play classic Nintendos, and I don't mind advertising that in a tongue-in-cheek way.

So the implication of "hipsters don't actually like the things they do, they just do them because irony" just doesn't ring true to me at all. Artisan coffee roasters love artisan coffee. John loves dodgeball. I love my Nintendo Power Glove tshirt.

* The trope that baffles me the most is "What I hate about hipsters is that they all think they're so different, when they're actually just conforming to what everyone else is doing." Again, I've just never met or heard of anyone actually claiming that. Skinny jeans, plaid shirts, even things like waistcoats and suspenders: these are just things that are fashionable amongst young people. Like 99% of society, people who wear them just want to fit in and wear clothes that they think look good. I don't know anyone who would claim otherwise.
posted by retrograde at 11:31 AM on May 2, 2013 [24 favorites]


It's Henry Alford, for Pete's sake. He's in on the joke.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:32 AM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Most people don't know that Thoreau actually mooched off his relatives the whole time he was out at Walden.

Or that he burned down a forest! Walden is way more interesting when you ignore the Romantic cruft it's accrued over the years.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:36 AM on May 2, 2013


Rustic - I'm gonna memail you a book rec in a minute.

I think I've just gotten a bit of a berserk-button over the years towards that kind of "people who subject themselves to a day job are just burying their dreams tra la la" statement, because what they don't acknowledge is that most of the people who are living that kind of idealized life where you can pursue your craft and not subject yourself to a day job are being supported by someone else, and trying to tell the rest of us that as if it ain't no thang is really unfair. I mean, even Virginia Woolf admitted that a room of her own alone didn't cut it - she also credited the 500 pounds a year she got from an inheritance. And so yeah, some of us are at jobs we hate where we're pretending to work, but that's because we didn't have parents rich enough or don't have spouses rich enough to do what we want and the people who did have rich parents or rich partners got there first when we were kids and we're having a hard time of this, dammit...

Okay, maybe I have some issues.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:45 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really want to believe that a lot of the people the author interacted with were all putting him on, kind of like those apocryphal stories you hear about explorers asking local tribesmen how to say "Hello" and they instead tell him the word for "butt" as a joke.

Or like Grungespeak
posted by anazgnos at 11:47 AM on May 2, 2013


....I had never heard of the Grungespeak story. It has made me very happy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:49 AM on May 2, 2013


EmpressCallipygos: “Most people don't know that Thoreau actually mooched off his relatives the whole time he was out at Walden.”

Hey now - that's not fair. It was Emerson's property in the first place. He mooched off his friends at least as much as he mooched off his family.
posted by koeselitz at 11:51 AM on May 2, 2013


it's pretty unpleasant to go to the clothes store and rub elbows with some "affinity marketer" who went to Choate and makes a hundred times what you do and who is talking about how cheap and traditional Dickies are.

But the unpleasantness here is economic—well, aside from any fatuity of the marketer—not aesthetic, right? The structural inequality of society is what's chiefly unpleasant here, not the Choatie's decision to wear Dickies. Now he might be a dick if he's just wearing Dickies to mock workers, or fatuous if he thinks he really is a worker, but neither behavior has anything to do with just wearing Dickies. Choatie's sartorial choices can't take something from poor Dickies wearers and poor Dickies wearers won't loose anything simply by Choatie's Dickie-wearing.

It is unpleasant, albeit in a different way, to realize that the Choatie is also wearing a $500 artisan hand-crafted version of the canvas work coat that you got second hand and were happy to find at that.

Unpleasant, yes, because I'd go fucking bonkers for a really nice hand-crafted canvas coat, but this is just envy. Justifiable envy, maybe, but still envy.

I'm pretty sure it's something we were raised with (thanks, Gen-X!)

When I go, I can die in the comfort of knowing that my generation contributed something to the world.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:56 AM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Now, I could try to suss out whether or not I'm allowed to like banjo music without it being offensive to poor people in Appalachia, or I could just listen to the banjo music because banjos are awesome.

Wait...there are people who think it's offensive to like banjo music because poor people in Appalachia? What?

I guess I'm in trouble. My Opa had some mad banjo skills. I mean, amazing, nimble, and really into it. He'd have to be in the mood to play, since it was something he picked up in the Army, and playing sometimes brought up bad memories.

We grandkids figured out that if we just kept dumping Stroh's into him, he would eventually relent and play for us, and he was AWESOME. I still love banjo music (mmm, Béla Fleck), and every now and then, hearing it makes me tear up and miss my Opa ferociously.

Huh. Never would have thought my Stroh's loving, banjo playing, flannel wearing, pipe smoking Opa could ever be considered a hipster.
posted by MissySedai at 11:58 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's Henry Alford, for Pete's sake. He's in on the joke.

Shhh. Let them have their fun.
posted by yoink at 12:01 PM on May 2, 2013


regarding music, I always found it amusing whoever hipsters are, are considered to be the snobbiest music fans ever. I mean, have these people ever spent time in metal/hardcore circles? There's nothing snobbier than those people.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:04 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's Henry Alford, for Pete's sake. He's in on the joke.

Yes, but as the Observor nails in the piece linked above, the joke is about 10 years old and, arguably, not very good.

Speaking of, the Observor has also humerously broken down the costs of how much it cost the NYT to make Alford a hipster for a week. Conservative estimate: $1,600, not including payment for the article itself or the photos.
posted by retrograde at 12:11 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's Henry Alford, for Pete's sake.

Gosh! For his next column, he should pretend to be a character from a 1940's radio serial.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:16 PM on May 2, 2013


I actually know lots of people who practice "ironic" fashion - I mean, the punks I grew up with sure did. "Wear the ugliest shirt you can find at the thrift store" isn't that uncommon, and the "ugliness" of the shirt is usually predicated on some kind of contempt for the shirt's "natural" owner - the shirt is the type of thing that the ironic wearer associates with a middle-aged secretary, or grandma, or someone working at a gas station, or someone who thinks that they look beoooooootiful instead of tacky, etc. The ironic wearer repurposes the "ugly" item by putting it on their younger, "beautiful", culture-aware self, giving a kicky frisson. A middle-aged secretary in a pantsuit is just podgy and boring, but a twenty-year-old modelish girl with tattoos and a transgressive haircut is displaying her wit, style, etc precisely because she is not wearing the pantsuit to work a desk job.

It's a bit like cultural appropriation, really, where the Indian immigrant wearing a bindi is marked as a foreigner and gets insulted while Gwen Stefani, having relocated the bindi from the unacceptable foreign body to her desirable, fashionable, white body, gets lauded for her fashion sense.

Now, I'd argue that things cease to be ironic once they become widespread. Fifties/Rayban glasses used to be ironic - the first person I knew to wear them was this beautiful, artsy girl who was the queen of her particular social set - wonder whatever happened to her? Probably runs a hedge fund by now - back in 1991, and the whole point of wearing them was that she was beautiful and the glasses were clunky, so they accented her beauty by contrast. An old dude wearing NHS/birthcontrol glasses would just be displaying his lack of with-it-ness, but they were hip on her. And so the glasses continued through the nineties.

Now they're super-normal, though, and when you wear them you're not showing your wit, awareness, etc, you're just wearing widely-distributed glasses in a classic design. I imagine that given another three or four years, that style of frame will be so played out that it will be clueless again....and so the cycle of life begins anew!
posted by Frowner at 12:16 PM on May 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


I haven't read this article, and don't plan to, but when I saw the headline I thought "Oh, Great! Maybe the NYT style section can stop writing about Brooklyn now."
posted by breakin' the law at 12:30 PM on May 2, 2013


Wait...there are people who think it's offensive to like banjo music because poor people in Appalachia? What?

I think the offense isn't over banjo music specifically, but I'm pretty sure there's been at least one Metafilter thread derail and subsequent MetaTalk callout over "lol hillbillies" type comments. You need a thick skin if you're going to be a banjo player, but the yeehaw/hambone/Deliverance jokes do get pretty old. Of course, for genuinely offensive banjo music you need to go back to the minstrel era. Wonderful music, a whole lot of awful, uncomfortable lyrics.

(My god, I just realized I'm a banjo hipster; I play a lot of arrangements by Frank B. Converse, you've probably never heard of him.)
posted by usonian at 12:41 PM on May 2, 2013


Old-timey banjo.

Hipster banjo.


Each of these things is about as "authentic" as the other. They're both pretty awesome, though.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:55 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's a bit like cultural appropriation

While being a lot less offensive.
posted by josher71 at 12:56 PM on May 2, 2013


(Actually, Old-timey banjo.)
posted by usonian at 1:05 PM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's pop cultural appropriation.
posted by Biblio at 1:07 PM on May 2, 2013


Back in the mid-late '80s, when tats and piercings were just beginning to become popular with the fellas at my college, I can recall thinking, if these guys really wanted to be edgy, they'd grow moustaches.
posted by wensink at 1:22 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


While being a lot less offensive.

In some ways yes, in some ways no. I mean, it's certainly a lot harder to pinpoint - if I show up in native regalia, it's unquestionably wrong, but if 1992-Frowner showed up in a mother-of-the-bride dress (I had one I thought was really pretty), it's rather difficult to tell to what degree I was wearing it because it seemed funny to wear a MOB dress since I was not a middle-aged woman, to what extent I thought I was wearing a MOB dress to show how non-podgy and non-wrinkly I was, to what degree I was wearing it because I thought it pretty and sparkly and I never got to go to prom, etc. Certainly a more complicated thought process than "oh here is some native regalia, it is pretty, I can totes wear it".

But honestly, the whole "oh, working class people are gross and risible, I will relocate traditionally working class items to my better, more worthy, smarter and more important body in order to show the world that I am special and have transgressive taste" is pretty gross. So is "only an ugly, undesirable frumpy middle-aged woman would wear this top sincerely; I will relocate it to my young, beautiful, valuable female body to show that I am so beautiful and with it that I am really something, unlike this shirt's original, frumpy owner".

You could even argue, in fact, that if I were to show up in native regalia, it would at least be because I had some positive regard for native people, however stupid, patronizing and stereotyped, and genuinely thought the regalia was pretty.

They're certainly different things, but I think there's some pretty unsavory thinking going on in each case.
posted by Frowner at 1:23 PM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


They're certainly different things, but I think there's some pretty unsavory thinking going on in each case.

But isn't this the nerd glasses problem? Some people have vision problems and like certain styles for whatever personal reasons and some people just grab the style for ironic affect and have clear glass put in them. And you rely on other cultural markers to figure out which one people are doing because they're the exact same glasses. But part of the premise is that some people who wear nerd glasses know they're nerd glasses and some don't.

I totally agree about native regalia (at least people know where it comes from, at least we assume they do in the US) but I sometimes think we assume that there are a lot more shared cultural constructs, particularly about fashion, than many people are really aware of nuancewise. I don't know what a mother of the bride dress is, though I think I could guess. To me wearing a skirt of any kind is "dressed up" and that's about as subtle as I can get. My sister is stylish and she knows about what she is wearing and also how it fits into the larger world of what other people are wearing, in her neighborhood, in her age group and in the world of fashionable people. Me, I'm just happy if I can find a pair of jeans that fit me at all and I am oblivious, literally, to the messages they send to anyone. I'd like to be a little better at it but being too good at it seems fetishistic to me which is maybe what people wrinkle their nose at about hipsters-as-they-define-them.

It may just be that sort of selfish overgeneralization where I think there are a lot more people like me than maybe there are, but if I look like a hipster it's by accident, so I assume it may be for a lot of other people too.
posted by jessamyn at 1:41 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


the whole "oh, working class people are gross and risible, I will relocate traditionally working class items to my better, more worthy, smarter and more important body in order to show the world that I am special and have transgressive taste" is pretty gross. So is "only an ugly, undesirable frumpy middle-aged woman would wear this top sincerely; I will relocate it to my young, beautiful, valuable female body to show that I am so beautiful and with it that I am really something, unlike this shirt's original, frumpy owner"

Obviously, if the point of dressing—how should we say it—in "working class attire" or "beneath one's economic status" is to mock the very idea of these people, then, yes, that falls somewhere on a spectrum between merely juvenile and actually hateful, but is to do so necessarily unsavory? I have a hard time believing that it is because if it is, then that suggests that "appropriate dress" isn't judged by time and place only, but by economic status also. Follow that to its conclusion and we're back at sumptuary laws.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:52 PM on May 2, 2013


I was thinking about this yesterday, when the office told me I was the office hipster, and I realized why it pissed me off. They weren't wrong, mind - crappy hair cut and beard, make my own bacon and beer, go to indie shows, working on art, forwarded hilariously terrible things, etc - but the idea of being a label, something dismissed in a box pissed me off. I can't think of any labels like this that aren't dismissive.

I think what causes such revulsion for the word "hipster" is that it is a label applied by others to a specific group of people. These people didn't necessarily seek out to be defined by this label--perhaps because they've sought out other labels for themselves, like "urban," or "foodie," or "creative." They've gone ahead and defined these labels for themselves, so they know what it stands for. In other words, they've branded themselves. Being called a hipster is being branded by someone else. Yes, it can be a shortcut for urban or foodie or creative, but it's not a fully accurate description.

My solution? Take control of the word "hipster" and define it on your terms. Confuse those who wish to provide a narrow definition of the word. Explode it into meaninglessness. Make it so that Wall Street traders are just as equally hipster as those who live in the supposed epicenters of Williamsburg or Greenpoint. Make it so that the NYT Style section will give up writing more articles like this due to the dilution of the word's meaning. It's hard work to redefine a word that's already been defined, but I believe it's possible.
posted by stannate at 1:54 PM on May 2, 2013


Obviously, if the point of dressing—how should we say it—in "working class attire" or "beneath one's economic status" is to mock the very idea of these people, then, yes, that falls somewhere on a spectrum between merely juvenile and actually hateful, but is to do so necessarily unsavory? I have a hard time believing that it is because if it is, then that suggests that "appropriate dress" isn't judged by time and place only, but by economic status also. Follow that to its conclusion and we're back at sumptuary laws.

Economic status is intertwined with culture (and let's not leave out the misogyny part, that's equally important!) in a way that is very difficult to parse.

I'd much rather address problems of appropriation by addressing unequal power, since I think unequal power is the underlying issue.

A "mother of the bride" dress is only risible/ironically fashionable if we have contempt for women, particularly mothers, particularly middle aged mothers - and people are able to have contempt because we live in a society where women are structurally unequal. This is why, say, a tuxedo isn't ironically risible; military uniforms aren't risible; lab coats aren't risible. All can be incorporated into fashion, but that incorporation is because a tuxedo speaks of glamor, wealth and the past; the uniform speaks of...all kinds of stuff; and the lab coat, although it does recall eighties "wacky scientist" fashion, isn't about contempt for doctors and researchers.

Similarly, why does no one think it's terrible to "appropriate" a mariniere (particular kind of French sailor shirt)? There isn't significant structural inequality between French people and USians, the mariniere is not emblematic of structural discrimination against fisherpeople (even though there are plenty of poor fishing communities, they are not generally communities where one wears a mariniere) and the mariniere does not have "exotic" allure - that is, while I might conceivably wear one to "look French", my feelings about "looking French" would not be the same as if I decided to wear regalia to "look native".

But the allure of the bindi, for example, is in large part because it is "exotic" - it's not just sparkly and pretty, although many are; it is alluring because it seems "foreign" and "different". The allure of a headdress isn't just that it's beautiful feathers; the allure is all the stereotypes about native people, the west and nature that have built up around native designs. Also, I would argue, some bad ideas about white womanhood - there's something in the way that headdresses are photographed again and again on a certain type of young white woman - either to indicate a nebulous "spirituality" or, more often, to indicate "rebelliousness" or toughness that is still not threatening to white masculinity.

And of course, this all relies on the ideas that native people are Exotic Others who don't have that much social power and that women generally are above all Not Threatening To Men. Address the social power issue and the regalia is more like Lutheran choir robes than Mysterious Sexy Fashion If Worn By Whites. I mean, you could work up quite the little fetish for choir robes, but it would not be fueled by power inequality and fantasies about race and nation.
posted by Frowner at 2:16 PM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I will relocate traditionally working class items to my better, more worthy, smarter and more important body in order to show the world that I am special and have transgressive taste" is pretty gross. So is "only an ugly, undesirable frumpy middle-aged woman would wear this top sincerely; I will relocate it to my young, beautiful, valuable female body to show that I am so beautiful and with it that I am really something, unlike this shirt's original, frumpy owner".

Let's unpack this a bit- I have a couple of friends who wear thrift-shop "secretary sweatshirts". The kind with kittens and sparkles and such. They wear them for two reasons: one, they usually get them at thrift shops because they have no money; two, the genuinely like kittens and sparkles and things. As far as I can tell, they have always liked kittens and sparkles and things. In fact, I think a big part of the reason they wear sweatshirts like this, is that for years they were told that these things weren't serious, or stylish, and that they shouldn't wear them, but still wanted to. And now they can, and they can give zero fucks about what other people think. It may also be because they grew up in lower-middle class families in the outer suburbs during the '90s, and perhaps the "secretary sweatshirt" is some sort of authentic expression of this, but I think it mostly has to do with the fact that they like kittens and sparkles and things. Certainly, they are not mocking anyone.

Similarly, I will unapologetically wear my vintage cherry 1490s, because I couldn't afford them in the '80s, but I can now, and they represent where I come from.

Also, I think some of my guy friends genuinely want to be lumberjacks.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:23 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I read somewhere that Irony is out and the New Sincerity is in. Probably the NYTSS.
posted by theuninvitedguest at 2:31 PM on May 2, 2013


Let's unpack this a bit- I have a couple of friends who wear thrift-shop "secretary sweatshirts". The kind with kittens and sparkles and such. They wear them for two reasons: one, they usually get them at thrift shops because they have no money; two, the genuinely like kittens and sparkles and things. As far as I can tell, they have always liked kittens and sparkles and things. In fact, I think a big part of the reason they wear sweatshirts like this, is that for years they were told that these things weren't serious, or stylish, and that they shouldn't wear them, but still wanted to. And now they can, and they can give zero fucks about what other people think. It may also be because they grew up in lower-middle class families in the outer suburbs during the '90s, and perhaps the "secretary sweatshirt" is some sort of authentic expression of this, but I think it mostly has to do with the fact that they like kittens and sparkles and things. Certainly, they are not mocking anyone.

Now, I know nothing of your friends, but I do know certain young women who will *tee-hee* wear sparkly kitten sweatshirts because they just love kittens!!!! and it shows that they are feminine and precious yet also kicky and different, although not that different, faintly rebellious because transgressing against the oppressive forces which keep one from kitten sweatshirts, etc. There was a time when I wore children's plastic barrettes molded in whimsical shapes even though I was twenty years old for much the same reason. Do I think that this is especially politically problematic? No. But do I think that there is nothing more to this kind of thing than a genuine, harmless, proletarian appreciation of kitten sweaters and dollar store barrettes? Well, there's an awful lot of artfully girlie cupcakes/kittens/sparkles/glitter/pink/unicorns going around in my social circle, and it's usually done with a weather eye to audience response, and that was very much how I experienced riot grrrl tweeness back in the nineties.

But then there's the whole question of kitsch and prettiness and nostalgia too - I like a cute airbrushed kitten as much as the next person of my approximate generation and set of cultural interests.

The whole thing is overdetermined, clearly, but it's not just innocent personal preferences innocently being expressed in youthful glee. I don't think anyone wearing a sparkly kitten sweatshirt is doing it because they give "zero fucks"; I think it's because they give about ten million fucks, but different kinds of fucks than a preppy might give. And I say this because back in, like, 1993 you could have found me wearing little-girl barrettes, a vintage fake fur and some kind of kitsch vintage dress, and it sure was precisely because I wanted to have some effects.
posted by Frowner at 2:34 PM on May 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


I want to start this comment off by saying that this is my first comment after reading metafilter for many, many years, and I signed up just to post this.

This post is the second one in three days about hipsters (this one was posted on Apr. 30th) and is another article by the NYT which makes me wonder what the deal with their fascination is.

"Brooklyn” is now a byword for cool from Paris to Sweden to the Middle East.

As someone who is a transplant to Portland, OR, I am laughing at this statement. Maybe it is true, I don't know, but my indirect and anecdotally-given information is that more people seem to consider Portland to be the byword for cool more than Brooklyn. Friends of mine who have studied abroad in Lyon, France (and subsequently in their visits to Paris) constantly met people who loved Portland and never even batted an eyelid about Brooklyn. It was approximately a year ago that there was the Keep Portland Weird Festival in Paris. Another friend of mine went and studied abroad in Glasgow, Scotland and met a ton of people who all seemed to love Portland, including a New Zealand couple who were ecstatic about meeting someone from Portland and constantly asked her questions about Portland. Again, these are anecdotal from close friends of mine about their personal experiences, and maybe people in those places do really consider Brooklyn to be cool. I also don't mean to make this a "battle of the hipster cities: Portland vs. Brooklyn" showdown, I just don't think that Brooklyn is really that venerated in other countries.

OrangeDrink: I was thinking about this yesterday, when the office told me I was the office hipster, and I realized why it pissed me off. They weren't wrong, mind - crappy hair cut and beard, make my own bacon and beer, go to indie shows, working on art, forwarded hilariously terrible things, etc - but the idea of being a label, something dismissed in a box pissed me off. I can't think of any labels like this that aren't dismissive.

As someone who is about to be 24 and lives in a really hip part of Portland, I have to admit it pisses me off a little bit too. A lot of people who don't live my "lifestyle" (whatever it is, though it's not very different from most people my age) call me a hipster primarily because I do ride a fixed geared bike, I live in a "cool" city, I am skinny and wear form fitting clothes, I shop local, and basically anything else that could be defined as being quintessentially hipster (which could really be anything now). However, I don't see much of a negative in things such as shopping local, supporting local farmers and the local economy, eating healthy (I didn't know eating kale was a "hipster" thing now, as according to the article at hand), riding a bike (it doesn't matter what sort of bike, it's a healthy exercise and a great way to get around a city that is set up pretty well for bicyclists), etc. Sorry that I moved from a place where these things were heavily stigmatized, geeze.

chasing: This is garbage. Still waiting for the trend article that actually paints a picture of how Williamsburg actually is, not as a stereotype of mustachioed fixie-riding Lena Dunham acolytes. There's a large Puerto Rican community. A large Jewish community. A large Polish community. People who run businesses. People who work in a thousand different industries. Rich people. Poor people. Good food. Bad food. Some hipsters. Way more normal people just trying to carry on with their lives who get bothered every time some New York Times writer discovers Williamsburg and treats it like they've gone on African safari.

Just wanted to point out that I agree with this whole-heartedly. There are the people here in Portland who do the same things and rave about our weird ice cream flavors without looking at some really awesome aspects of the city, some great businesses and great people.

Bulgaroktonos: The way people dress, their hobbies, etc. are all basically costuming. That's not to say is disingenuous, you pick the costume that you like for whatever reason and that makes it a fairly true expression of yourself. I think of labels like hipster as a way to point that you've noticed and understand someone's choice of costume, but also to gently remind people that costuming is inherently a little ridiculous.

I'm not so sure I agree that costuming is a little ridiculous, but I agree that it is costuming and that that is not disingenuous. I wear clothes that fit me and look good on me and those are primarily clothes that are form fitting because I am of a lean build. I sometimes wear band t-shirts. I wear what my moods necessitate. Sometimes I want to look nice when I go out with my friends to a bar (this is more for the winter when I can really layer up) and other times I want to not give a shit and I'll just throw anything on at the time (this is more for the summer when it's hot out and I am riding my bike everywhere). I'm not intentionally trying to go for a "look", I am trying to go for an emotion. An example of an outfit on me in the fall or winter would be some form fitting jeans ("skinny" jeans) that are blue, grey wool socks, black Doc Martens, a lighter blue button up dress shirt, and maybe a cardigan or some sort of heavier sweater over that. This is my basic go-to outfit for the fall and winter because it is comfortable (the most important thing to me), but also highly customizable to my liking(I have a pair of red Levis that work really well with the particular dress shirt I am imagining). This is an outfit I would wear if I am going out to a bar with friends and I want to not look like a slob, but I know a lot of people would consider me a "hipster" for doing this. It's a costume, but not a costume used to deceive people, and not even really a costume to show my true self. It's just an outfit I like.

retrograde: But who does just like or do things ironically?

I do, but it doesn't fit in as the definition of "ironic". Every fourth of July I try to wear a specific t-shirt that I found years ago in a thrift store. It is this shirt and I wear it because it's fun, it's summer, there are BBQs and fireworks, and it's just a good time and I find it funny that such a shirt even exists. This is probably the only ironic thing that I do, but I think I understand the reasoning behind people doing "ironic" things: it's fun sometimes, and also good for a laugh if you don't take yourself seriously.

MisantropicPainforest: regarding music, I always found it amusing whoever hipsters are, are considered to be the snobbiest music fans ever. I mean, have these people ever spent time in metal/hardcore circles? There's nothing snobbier than those people.

As someone who grew up in a metal/hardcore (predominantly metal/deathcore) scene, I know exactly what you are talking about, and I believe most people will never understand that. Black metal purists are some of the biggest music snobs anyone will ever meet.

I definitely fit into the subculture (or whatever it is called) of being a hipster, without ever meaning to. I started riding a fixed geared bike when I was 18, which is before Urban Outfitters had a part of their site dedicated to designing their own, and was also around the time that Macaframa and MASH came out (I saw those two movies when they came out and they changed my life, even to this day), but was slightly late in them being really cool and therefore I am a hipster no matter which way I go because they were cool in San Francisco and New York City and Seattle before I was riding them, but I rode them before they were mainstream cool. I fit in that fine grey area. I like riding fixed geared, but I also like riding road bikes. I like wearing outfits that make me look good and that make me feel confident, and outfits that are goofy and just plain fun to wear, and outfits that are simply comfortable depending on the weather. I shop local, because I do believe in supporting my local farmers, and because it was very hard to do so when I lived in the suburbs of Arizona. I like to drink beers, whether that's a local microbrewery or something cheap like PBR (either way, I'm a hipster). I don't buy super expensive clothes, but a friend of mine works at a place that sells clothing that is expensive ($200+ pairs of jeans) and I wouldn't disparage someone for doing so, especially if it's American-made/locally made and made with organically grown cotton and everything is kosher between the farmer and the people producing the clothing. I don't understand how this could be a negative, but it's considered hipster, and is especially looked down upon due to the price. I eat kale, because it's good for you, and it goes with lots of things. I am self-aware about gentrification, having already once lived in a very gentrified neighborhood, and I understand that I should do my best to negate my (albeit negligible) effect I have on gentrified neighborhoods. As someone who is a transplant, just like most of the people that I have met here in the past three years, I am currently dating a Portland native, and my previous two girlfriends are Portland natives, so I enjoy and really do listen to them about the history of the city. One of my ex-girlfriends lived in the neighborhood I just mentioned as being gentrified while it was being gentrified and told me how only three places use to be there when she was growing up, whereas now it's one of the hippest neighborhoods in NE Portland (I'm talking about Alberta St., if anyone is wondering) and I happen to now work on it (after having lived off of it for over a year).

There are so many things that bother me about the "hipster" label. I have friends in bands and friends just trying to make it in the local music scene and people who are doing some awesome work here and there and to deride young people such as us as hipsters simply because we may dress one way or another or because we may like a certain beer is a little unfair. I don't think it's necessarily problematic to be young and want to be in a garage rock band while working at a local grocery store and I don't think it's something that should be made out to be a negative when it's actually a positive. What's the flipside to being young and trying to make art and working? I understand that there are some people who are really ridiculous (using that word pejoratively as the author would want) such as those people who run around in panda suits on the NYC subway, but it's unfair to dismiss the rest of us because of people like them. I think being a liberal-minded, self-aware twentysomething is a good trait to be right now. I am enjoying myself and the relationships I have with likeminded people, in a really beautiful city, and I fully acknowledge that this is a privilege I have.

Also, I hope people find it funny that I posted this with the username "gucci mane". When trying to come up with a username I drew a blank and wanted to use one that no one could trace to me and this was the first one I came up with.
posted by gucci mane at 2:34 PM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


A hipster! Get him!!!
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 2:40 PM on May 2, 2013


Man, white people really hate being generalized about.
posted by invitapriore at 2:43 PM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


And to continue: I think it's really easy to feel that we're doing things because we're special snowflakes who make individual intelligent choices rather than because we're immersed in larger cultural currents. Every hipster is a hipster because they are "really interested" in beekeeping and beards and whatever else is fashionable; I wore fifties dresses and plastic barrettes and carried a lunch box as a handbag in 1994 because I "really" liked those things, just as now I "really" like my tassel loafers, even though I would have gnawed off a finger rather than wear tassel loafers in 1994. I wear shawl collar cardigans and brogues because they are "comfortable" and I "really" like them. Of course, it's mere coincidence that I am comfortable in a shawl collar cardigan and not a zip-up fleece, just as it's mere coincidence that someone is "really" into artisanal charcuterie and not "really" into macrobiotic food.

It's a bit nauseating, actually.

Honestly, I'm a lot like other people, I'm heavily manipulated by fashion and anxiety and the people around me without even being conscious of that fact in any specific detail. I wish I could remember the name of that guy who shoots all those fashion photos where it's twenty people who are all wearing the same subcultural fashion - like twenty older women wearing lagenlook pants, severe hairstyles and fashion forward glasses; twenty young women who all wear puffer jackets and skinny jeans; twenty young men who all wear neo-rave sweatshirts, etc.
posted by Frowner at 2:48 PM on May 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


invitapriore: Man, white people really hate being generalized about.

I guess so, I can't really imagine other peoples' experiences personally since I am not them and am a privileged white male, but we're on the topic of hipsters so I thought it was useful to chime in.
posted by gucci mane at 2:48 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man, white people really hate being generalized about.

And yeah, I think there is a race angle on this, in that as a group white people in the US are encouraged to imagine ourselves as deracinated individuals unconstrained by the past. Being a "hipster" is troubling only if you really, really worry about being an extremely self-regulating individual type of individual; otherwise, why worry about the mere fact that your cultural preferences are shaped by where you come from and the people around you? (I mean, it would make sense to worry that your cultural preferences hurt others, if they did - just not worry simply because you have a strong, shared culture that you did not choose in perfect freedom.)
posted by Frowner at 2:54 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


O, bohemia! There are several ways to react to a culture quake.

Are NYT editors sneaking their Lyttle Lytton entries into stories now? That is the only explanation I can come up with that doesn't render me instantly unconscious and I have been trying for the last couple hours.
posted by furiousthought at 3:06 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


And to continue: I think it's really easy to feel that we're doing things because we're special snowflakes who make individual intelligent choices rather than because we're immersed in larger cultural currents. Every hipster is a hipster because they are "really interested" in beekeeping and beards and whatever else is fashionable; I wore fifties dresses and plastic barrettes and carried a lunch box as a handbag in 1994 because I "really" liked those things, just as now I "really" like my tassel loafers, even though I would have gnawed off a finger rather than wear tassel loafers in 1994. I wear shawl collar cardigans and brogues because they are "comfortable" and I "really" like them. Of course, it's mere coincidence that I am comfortable in a shawl collar cardigan and not a zip-up fleece, just as it's mere coincidence that someone is "really" into artisanal charcuterie and not "really" into macrobiotic food.

And in 1880 I would have dug the hell out of a giant bustle. The question is, who cares? What does it matter? Why is this a problem? Should I be excising any trend that enters into my consciousness like a vile cancer?
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:06 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


The question is, who cares? What does it matter? Why is this a problem? Should I be excising any trend that enters into my consciousness like a vile cancer?

It matters because a lot of people respond to any critique or any label by saying "but it's just me!!!! I'm doing my unique individual thing because I just really like it!!!! You are insulting the empowerful choices available to me under capitalism!!"

This is particularly true, IMO, of how people talk about women's fashion. I mean, one can certainly wear lipstick or baby barrettes or carry a $500 handbag or whatever; the point is that half the time the allure of those things depends on a lot of denial that they are anything more than pure, empowered individual choice-making. If you're supposed to buy something to show "taste", quirky manic-pixie individuality, etc, then that thing stops being alluring if we stop believing that we buy things on total empowered individual choice-making. It doesn't sound quite as fun to say, as I sometimes am forced to say to myself, "I am always trying to buy clothes that suggest higher class status than I actually have; thus This Particular Pair of Pants seems attractive to me because it seems upper middle class, not because of some pure aesthetic aspect". And of course, since shopping, consumption and self-adornment are rationalized as being "fun" and "expressive" to conceal that they contain large elements of compulsion and labor, this does not come easily.

Do what you want but don't kid yourself about it, is all I'm saying.
posted by Frowner at 3:25 PM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm just not sure what the proposed solution to this is. Deliberately dressing in a way you hate so as not to be a sucker? We can't divorce ourselves from cultural influence because we're cultural animals. It's great to be aware of the influence of culture on our tastes, but I'm still missing the part where that's a bad thing. If I lived 100 years ago I'd be different, if I lived in another part of the world I'd be different, if I'd been raised in a different class I'd be different. But I wasn't, so I wear skinny jeans. And I like them. And I KNOW I like them because it's 2013 and I'm 25 and I live in Brooklyn, and... so?
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:30 PM on May 2, 2013


I don't think anyone's getting prescriptive, proscriptive or accusatory here. The way I read it, Frowner is merely noting that there's this narrative in let's call it hipsterism that says the people who are into these things are exclusively into these things because those things are the best and because those people have the faculties of distinction necessary to know what the best things are, and certainly not at all because those things just happen to be valued by the cohort that those people belong to. Also, in my experience, that sense of injustice at being labeled is rarely afforded to other groups, and in that respect it's very similar to the sort of self-elevating narratives you see in a lot of other privileged cohorts, and is therefore something that we should probably be wary of and give some thought to.

Anyway, on my end, it's not like I don't have skin in the game here, this whole discussion is very relevant to who I am and the sorts of things that I like and do, and so do the things I'm talking about in the last paragraph make me uncomfortable? Kind of, yeah. Does that mean that the natural conclusion is that I should stop doing all of those things immediately because they're bad and awful? No, not at all. I don't think there's any cause for defensiveness.
posted by invitapriore at 3:37 PM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Frowner,

I get what you're saying, and I get that my friends' sartorial choices (and my own) very much determined by our milieu. But you also made claims about a particular component of "ironic" hipster as emerging out of a position of contempt for the working classes, and I want to tell you that I think you're off the mark here. In many cases I would suggest it is more like a reification or fetishization of working-class styles. Very few people I know go to a thrift store and say "Oh my god, this is hideous, I'm going to wear it." The people I know pick items because they want to look like they're from a mid-'60s psych-rock band, or Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, or because they like kittens and sparkles, but I don't think I've met anyone who dresses in a particular way out of a desire to mock another class (unless they are frat boys/sorority girls at some stupid trailer park/ghetto party).

I do think the lumberjack look that is so popular now has its problematic aspects (and not just because I can't grow a beard). It does at times seem to be encoding a "pioneer" aesthetic (along with the canning, crafts, banjos, etc.) that carries a slightly sour note in the context of urban gentrification.

On the other hand, I wear flannel shirts and Carhartts for three reasons:

1) Canada

2) Comfortable, durable, and very practical (my Carhartt coat is one of the best winter jackets I've ever owned, and cost half of what something from North Face or Canada Goose would)

3) Grunge. I graduated from high school in 1992, and feel that I get a pass on anything flannel
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:14 PM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


And yeah, I think there is a race angle on this, in that as a group white people in the US are encouraged to imagine ourselves as deracinated individuals unconstrained by the past. Being a "hipster" is troubling only if you really, really worry about being an extremely self-regulating individual type of individual; otherwise, why worry about the mere fact that your cultural preferences are shaped by where you come from and the people around you?

This makes sense to me; back in the day, I knew a number of kids-what-wear-black who hated being called "Goth" for the same reason.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 4:30 PM on May 2, 2013


I second pretty much everything Frowner's said in the thread.

One of the things that kills me about this whole what do you like "authentically" now vs what did you like "authentically" 15 years ago (presuming you were an adult 15 years ago) is the total lack of recognition and self-awareness.

Am I saying following trends is bad? Hell to the no, I try to keep my wardrobe up to date and know what's currently popular. But it seems like there's no recognition of it being totally fine to admit to yourself, "hey self, I really like this banjo music because it's all they're playing anymore at the local old-tyme barber shop where I get my handlebar mustache trimmed."

I see it myself when it comes to shoes - when I was a teen I just knew that big stompy shoes were right and dainty Keds or ballet flats made my legs look totally weird and ill-proportioned. In my head, it wasn't just that it was popular/not popular (this is 1995) - I really was convinced that it wold be Doc Martens for me all the way to death (or middle age).

Then, a few years ago when ballet flats got mainstream again (2008 maybe?), I was totally rocking them and thinking that they (and I) looked great.

Does this make me question my own sanity? Hell to the yes! But trends and the way they affect our subconscious is very tricky and flies under our own radar most of the time. I only really remember the shoes thing because I made a big point of ditching those Sam&Libby flats that made me look horrible, only to re-purchase a similar style 10+ years later.
posted by clerestory at 5:18 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Isn't dressing like a hipster from 2007 pretty much mainstream these days though? I mean, I work with some of the most non-hipster people around, and on casual Fridays people are sporting the flannel shirts and beards and skinny jeans like there's no tomorrow.
posted by pravit at 5:42 PM on May 2, 2013


I wish to brain the author of this piece with a brick. I do not care if the brick is locally sourced or not.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:06 PM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


What? Dork and nerd are two and despite the whole internet reclamation of the word geek, I can tell you that my hopelessly cool [Brooklynite] sister thinks it's hilarious that I've gone to see Star Trek: TNG episodes in the theater and that I once referred to a dress as an "SF" dress, meaning "sci-fi" not "San Francisco."

Dunno, I once overheard my super-hip, way-cooler-than-me roommate refer to her outfit as "kind of a Counselor Troi look." (IIRC it was a turquoise jumpsuit)
posted by en forme de poire at 8:16 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


TheWhiteSkull: I do think the lumberjack look that is so popular now has its problematic aspects (and not just because I can't grow a beard). It does at times seem to be encoding a "pioneer" aesthetic (along with the canning, crafts, banjos, etc.) that carries a slightly sour note in the context of urban gentrification.

I can definitely see how this carries a sour note. I had a roommate once who was just like this and I really cannot put into words how much I hate him as a human being. It upsets me to the core.

These specific characteristics, however, are not necessarily bad on their own, it just depends on the attitude of the person displaying them. Canning isn't bad, and neither is playing banjo. I think pickling certain foods is fun and interesting. It's when a person gets to a point that they think that is the way life should be ran, and they force that point of view on you, that it gets to be too much.
posted by gucci mane at 8:23 PM on May 2, 2013


Not my fad. That's OK, mine was equally ridiculous to other folks. Have a good time and do what you like. That's what I'm doing.
posted by evilDoug at 10:08 PM on May 2, 2013


Have a good time and do what you like. That's what I'm doing.

BUT IF WE CANNOT JUDGE, THEN WHAT MEANING HAS LIFE?!?!

Also, the business model of so many blogs will collapse.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:26 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's easy with bacon.

Normal person: makes bacon because they like bacon and they like making bacon. Would make bacon even if nobody ever knew they made bacon.

Hipster: makes bacon because they think other idiots will think they're cool if they say they like bacon and making bacon and they make bacon. Primary driver of making bacon is to let other people know they make bacon.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:45 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I always just thought the distinction was that the hipster went out of his way to point out that this bacon thing was just something he's always done before it got popular and he's a little annoyed at you for suggesting he's following a wave of bacon popularity resurgence, whereas a non hipster might say "oh yeah, I've just gotten into this whole bacon thing lately." It doesn't necessarily mean one of them likes bacon more or less than the other.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:07 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The author of this piece also wrote this, something which made me facepalm so hard that I actually e-mailed him to ask why nobody thought to check a map.
posted by mippy at 6:32 AM on May 3, 2013


Isn't dressing like a hipster from 2007 pretty much mainstream these days though? I mean, I work with some of the most non-hipster people around, and on casual Fridays people are sporting the flannel shirts and beards and skinny jeans like there's no tomorrow.

i'm impressed that your co-workers have beards that only appear on fridays
posted by ninjew at 12:37 PM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I always just thought the distinction was that the hipster went out of his way to point out that this bacon thing was just something he's always done before it got popular

Ah, that's 'jaded hipster'. His / her coolness base is threatened. If everybody does it (or once it becomes clear that everybody has always done it, they just haven't been taking faux-polaroids of it with a cigar-box banjo conveniently in the background so everybody else knows they're doing it), then there's no point in doing it anymore.

Jaded hipster is urgently seeking the next Korean carnita-flavoured artisanal icecream, served in the next mason jar.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:40 PM on May 3, 2013


This WAS Williamsburg.
posted by josher71 at 6:17 AM on May 4, 2013


The Fucking Hipster Show
Surveying the last thirteen years’ worth of New York Times’ articles — the length of time when, according to a recent Gawker compilation of New York Times hipster ethnographies, our paper of record has been shocked by and enamored with the H-word — this capacious figure encompasses both the ironic and the sincere. The cynical and the committed. Professional artists and trustafarian dilettantes. Studiously cool fashionistas and earthy, backward-looking community gardeners raising chickens. Apolitical trend-mongers and, in the wake of Occupy, radical anarchists — presumably like the ones who resided at 13 Thames Street.

But why worry about these people, when the Times has a tattooed and mustachioed dummy and its writers know how to make him speak? And speak he does, on a regular basis, about small batch pickle making, DIY literary history, and the new unicycling purists. Better to focus on the kinds of things that suggest effete privilege — all their free time frivolously spent and with whose money? — than offer a critique of the truly privileged and the socioeconomic system which sustains their privilege.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:13 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


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