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Enough With The Hipster Stuff, Alright?!?
May 12, 2013 9:48 PM   Subscribe

On topics ranging from the capitalist dynamics of gentrification to the casualization of employment among ostensibly middle class Millennials, the “fucking hipster” show beats structural analysis The confluence of heavy-handed tactics and the seeming collaboration between landlords, city agencies, and a violent Hell’s Angel-like gang is telling and in many ways typical. A year before their biker piece, the New York Post ran an article entitled “W’burg has art attack: Hipsters facing boot” which covered the final stage in the long battle between long-time residents of the 338 Berry Street Lofts — artists who had moved into and transformed both building and neighborhood during the mid-1990s — and their landlord. This is the now familiar story of gentrification in New York City.

From the ever hilarious New Yahk Post: "Landlord 'paid' biker gang to drive B'klyn tenants out, residents say"
posted by artof.mulata (123 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is pretty horrible. I believe the artists over the landlord. Also one way or the other this will bite the landlord in the butt.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:53 PM on May 12, 2013


Dissent, Norman Mailer: The White Negro, as referred to in the main link.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:00 PM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


"the 21st century bourgeois liberal’s preferred flavor of minstrelsy"? Really? REALLY? Gosh, why would anyone ever think hipsters are insufferable?
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:00 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


"the 21st century bourgeois liberal’s preferred flavor of minstrelsy"? Really? REALLY? Gosh, why would anyone ever think hipsters are insufferable?

Do you have any reason to believe the person you're quoting (who has a Ph.D. and taught for several years at notorious hipster enclave West Point) is a hipster? Or have you just decided he must be a hipster because … I don't know, because he uses big words?
posted by kenko at 10:24 PM on May 12, 2013 [23 favorites]


This is really a prime example of the contentlessness of "hipster" and the way it's used pretty much solely as a term of abuse to mark someone as not worth serious consideration.
posted by kenko at 10:26 PM on May 12, 2013 [28 favorites]


Just ugh.
posted by stratastar at 10:38 PM on May 12, 2013


Or have you just decided he must be a hipster because … I don't know, because he uses big words?

No, you're right. That's exactly why. Because he uses big words. You figured it out.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:48 PM on May 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Do you have any reason to believe the person you're quoting (who has a Ph.D. and taught for several years at notorious hipster enclave West Point) is a hipster?

To be fair, there was one English teacher there who wore skinny jeans and may well have been a hipster, although I have no evidence that the author was that teacher. Even Castle Greyskull had been infiltrated by the hipsters I tell you!
posted by A Bad Catholic at 10:50 PM on May 12, 2013


Come on, man. Most of the people in Castle Greyskull don't even wear pants at all, let alone skinny jeans.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:54 PM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


No, you're right. That's exactly why. Because he uses big words. You figured it out.

My sarcasm detector just started whimpering and ran into the other room.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:02 PM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


As much as I hate it when people insult 'hipsters' for no reason, I think lots of the defense of them on Metafilter comes from people who fall squarely in every single hipster marker. They exist, they're recongizable, and if you don't think they exist you don't live in a hip enough area.

Also I dunno if this is its own FPP but I Wish This Neighborhood Stayed Exactly As Gentrified As It Was When I First Moved Here could probably go in the comments here.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:09 PM on May 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Fun fact: Williamsburg isn't full of hipsters.
posted by chasing at 11:23 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think lots of the defense of them on Metafilter comes from people who fall squarely in every single hipster marker. They exist, they're recongizable, and if you don't think they exist you don't live in a hip enough area.

You have missed the point of the article, being that 'hipster' is essentially a meaningless term, a concocted, confected strawman used for nothing but pointless, divisive othering:
We should retire “hipster” as a term without referent or political salience. Its zombie-like persistence in anti-hipster discourse must be recognized for what it is: an urbane, and socially acceptable, form of ideologically inflected shaming on the part of American elites who must delegitimize those segments of a largely white, college educated population who didn’t do the “acceptable thing.”
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:38 PM on May 12, 2013 [18 favorites]


We should retire “hipster” as a term without referent or political salience. Its zombie-like persistence in anti-hipster discourse must be recognized for what it is: an urbane, and socially acceptable, form of ideologically inflected shaming on the part of American elites who must delegitimize those segments of a largely white, college educated population who didn’t do the “acceptable thing.”

Honestly, most of the hipsters I know have politics that SHOULD be marginalized. They push for a pseudo-scientific reliance on organic food and oppose GM crops that could save lives. Otherwise their/our politics are mostly concerned around keeping local venues and bars open. Which is awesome, and I've marched for it, but it's hardly a threat to the capitalist way of life.



The girls hit the streets, brandishing those recently liberated bourgeois body parts. A crowd gathers around them across the divide. The underemployed hipsters and unemployed longtime residents of Bushwick, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint unite and lay siege to Manhattan in a climax that will finally satisfy those moviegoers who really wanted more Bane and less Batshit last summer.


Except that won't happen, since hipsters don't really move with the real working class.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 12:07 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


FFS, CiS. RTFA.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:12 AM on May 13, 2013 [17 favorites]


I've had a sort of imprecise negative reaction in the past few years to the casual anti-hipsterism peddled in many media outlets. The criticisms used to have more specificity early on, but for years now it's just been a sort of shoot from the hip broad bashing. I could never quite put my finger on why it started to feel so off. Now I know. "The anti-hipster censure here includes a healthy dose of typically American anti-intellectualism, decked out in liberal bunting, subtle homophobia, and recognizably manipulative appeals to..." Yup, that nails it quite well.
posted by booksarelame at 12:13 AM on May 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


None of this is academic to me, I lost a shitload of lighting gear when the people were evicted from 15 Thames, aka Surreal Estate. I didn't even know about the Hell's Angels.

For my money, when people use the term hipster, they generally mean, "Other people are getting laid, taking drugs and seeing interesting music, and I'm not." FYI, when I was mentioned in Art in America it was as a "pasty-faced hipster" so I have platform here... (god knows why they said this, I do wear clothing with actual colors on them and know how to use a razor).

(Insert smiles and winks to taste...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:16 AM on May 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


I think its the 'clothes with actual colors on them' that annoys me the most. But seriously, my best mate reads Vice Magazine, won't listen to a band if they get more than 1000 YouTube views, and collects custom made pop-art toys. When I say 'hipster', I mean it in a very specific sense.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 12:25 AM on May 13, 2013


To get even more specific, from the article:

[...] 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.

More specifics on hipster behavior from one of my favorite MeFi comments on the subject:

Because, like half of everyone keeps saying, there is no "hipster" subculture. (Notice how no one ever accuses goths of being hipsters, except maybe people who want to express dislike but are deeply confused: goths are a specific subculture, hipsters are not.) The only thing here is the dominant middle-class culture, collectively made up of current fads and products and the same old class/race/gender issues and etc.. That's why it's so easy to accuse someone of hipsterdom:

Have an iPhone? Obvs you're an apple-using hipster.
Have an old clamshell? Even more of a hipster! Phone irony!

Going lunch at a Nepalese place? Ugh, you read a hipster blog that told you to do that.
Getting lunch at a diner? Don't pretend like you can't afford to eat fancier.

Live in NYC? Tryhard hipster. Go back to Ohio.
Live in Ohio? Oh god, you think you have middle-american authenticity. You probably moved here from New York.

Drink microbrews? Hipster only doing that because everyone else is.
Drink macrobrews? You're fueling your authenticity engine with the soul of the working class.


I think it's been pretty well established by now that:

1. They only exist in relation to someone else.
2. As an extension of that, any specific person you indicate as a hipster will resemble your insecurities.
3. A significant number of people indicated as hipsters will subvert any point you're trying to make about the habits of whatever hipsters you're using as an example.

When aged relatives ask me what a hipster is I tell them that they're people with at least a little disposable time or income who use some of that time/income to signal themselves as opposed to the ills of the day, in particular the economic situation. That's all.
posted by tychotesla at 12:34 AM on May 13, 2013 [61 favorites]


We need to figure this all out ASAP because I'm not exaggerating when I say that about 30% of Mefi's posts in the past few years have been hipster-related, which means that this is important, somehow.
posted by Avenger at 12:41 AM on May 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


1. They only exist in relation to someone else.
2. As an extension of that, any specific person you indicate as a hipster will resemble your insecurities.
3. A significant number of people indicated as hipsters will subvert any point you're trying to make about the habits of whatever hipsters you're using as an example.


MeFites have a vested interest in pushing this line, because most MeFites fit easily recognizable stereotypes - organic food, craft brewing, bespoke clothes, inner city locations, etc. It works everywhere - at the last Sydney MeFi meetup we met in a hipster area, and most of us lived in hipster areas. Hipter is absolutly a recognizable stereotype, and when I go out I can tell the hipsters from the goths, the punks, etc. There are bars that are mostly hipster bars. There are music festivals like Laneway that cater to an educated, affluent, hip crowd that dress in certain ways and look in certain ways and have a certain tone - a sort of ironic affect - that can be identified as belonging to a hipster.

Basically, most MeFites (me included) could pass as extras in a Portlandia sketch. We could end up in an NY Times fluff piece. It's a bit disingenious to pretend that hipsters don't exist, or that most of the people here don't fit into that category.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:05 AM on May 13, 2013 [18 favorites]


Since it's open on my computer: go down the list of these bands and tell me hipsters don't exist.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:08 AM on May 13, 2013


I gotta agree. Head over to Intelligentsia Coffee in Silverlake and tell me there is no such thing as a hipster.
posted by Justinian at 1:09 AM on May 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


MeFites people in their twenties and thirties have a vested interest in pushing this line, because most MeFites people in their twenties and thirties fit easily recognizable stereotypes

That may be oversimplifying it a bit, but not by much.
posted by Pseudology at 1:15 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Unlike Smith’s rigorous Marxian analysis, most popular accounts from the spurious creative class mystifications of Richard Florida to standard issue conservative populist diatribes forget the larger forces and primary movers in this process, which is instead reduced, metonymically, to the catchall figure of the hipster.


I thought this was a good article, a good a look at what 'hipster' means/is/functions as a label.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:24 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


anyone with more money or cultural capital than me is fucking scum and i'll be goddamned if i'll dance to their beat
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:32 AM on May 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


The well publicised Great British Class Survey has even introduced a new class category that, to me, sounds like the broad definition of 'hipster':

Emergent Service Workers: This new class has low economic capital but has high levels of 'emerging' cultural capital and high social capital. This group are young and often found in urban areas.

While the BBC survey has little applicability to social researchers, it is weirdly gratifying to see one's own situation recognised as a large demographic. Hipsters exist, but we are hardly a subculture anymore.
posted by dumdidumdum at 1:45 AM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hipster is absolutely a recognizable stereotype, and when I go out I can tell the hipsters from the goths, the punks, etc.

Of course they are recognizable! Otherwise this couldn't be true:

1. They only exist in relation to someone else.

The important bit here being that there is no way to describe a hipster independent of a describer, without also encompassing just about every white person with disposable income, time, and a desire to signal some small amount of resistance to the ills of the day. Basically, what Pseudology and dumdidumdum just said.
posted by tychotesla at 2:00 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait - maybe "hipster" is just basically another word for "bitch eating crackers"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:09 AM on May 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Is that like a man eating shark?
posted by fleacircus at 3:39 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honestly, most of the hipsters I know have politics that SHOULD be marginalized. They push for a pseudo-scientific reliance on organic food and oppose GM crops that could save lives.

See, this is a funny thing though. What the fuck is actually a hipster, even in this sense? i feel like this is very much a supreme court justice "i know it when i see it" kind of thing, but if that's the case where it's a "I know that you know the kind of person i'm talking about" then no, there is no real average set of politics.

It ranges from what you described, to a pretty wide range of the full gamut of political opinions.

What pseudology said is pretty good here. It might just be the groups i run in, which cover a decent amount of ground for my age range in my city, but almost everyone i know could conceivably be called a hipster.

It seems really, really hard to be in your early 20s and do much of anything unless you're a really intense goth/metalhead/some visually obvious subculture along those lines(in which i also have a few friends). The people i know who someone couldn't theoretically, and more hasn't already called a hipster is a smaller group than the ones who could and have. There are obviously many distinct subcultures that people i know belong to, but it's all just kinda been swept up under this big umbrella. It's a pretty weird day when drunk bike messengers who play bike polo 2-3 days a week are placed into the same category as a girl who works at a thrift store and works on projects for her next art store all night. And that besides this label, never the twain shall meet. And i know both of those examples are "hipstery as fuck", but that's part of my point. what the shit does that even mean?

I get what charlemagne in sweatpants and others are saying, but i really think the "this phrase no longer has much of any meaning" camps boat holds more water.

At one point it made a bit of sense, there was a distinct category of activities, affectations, fashion choices, etc that could grouped under this label. But over time more and more was piled in until it essentially meant "things millienial 20somethings commonly like".

I would argue that even "nerd" has a slightly more concrete meaning in 2013 than hipster.
posted by emptythought at 3:45 AM on May 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Urban Dictionary has a pretty good definition of "hipster" (though the last few lines and the supposed frat boy dialogue at the end are something of an eye-roller).

The word hipster does frequently get used by people who don't know what it means (a friend of mine told me about a couple she knew who bought all their expected child's clothes and furnishings and other needed items at Baby Gap and the Pottery Barn and other such stores and referred to them as "hipsters", when uh, no, they're yuppies), but it doesn't follow that it consequently doesn't mean anything at all.

It's a pretty weird day when drunk bike messengers who play bike polo 2-3 days a week are placed into the same category as a girl who works at a thrift store and works on projects for her next art store all night. And that besides this label, never the twain shall meet. And i know both of those examples are "hipstery as fuck", but that's part of my point. what the shit does that even mean?

In both cases, the people you describe have bypassed a more mainstream job/career path and are pursuing their interests in an independent and unconventional way that probably doesn't make much sense to their parents. That's hipsterism.
posted by orange swan at 4:13 AM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I really agree that if you think hipster has no descriptive content it's hard to believe you live somewhere with hipsters. It's just as coherent a social scene as goths, at least from the outside. It has nothing to do with age; the hipster-est hipster I know is pushing 40.
posted by Skorgu at 4:15 AM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


In both cases, the people you describe have bypassed a more mainstream job/career path and are pursuing their interests in an independent and unconventional way that probably doesn't make much sense to their parents. That's hipsterism.

The thing is that i know plenty of people who could be called hipsters who did. Including myself, and i work in IT. I know more than a couple people who work somewhere in the tech industry, in design, for the city, or otherwise in some standard office job who that label could easily be applied to.

I may have overdone it a little bit there and picked examples that were easy to poke holes in, but my point was that i know people with diverse, unrelated to eachother(from person to person) interests, and in diverse lines of work and the same label applies to all of them despite that.

Something is a bit off when it's like "this list of 300 jobs is hipster-ish", same with "this list of 1000 interests/activities".
posted by emptythought at 4:41 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Zzzzzz. Latest version of groups like Harley riders: conforming non-comformists.

Go ride an H-D with a colorful, elaborately decorated full-face helmet and see how many disapproving looks you get from the "real" people of Harleyville.....
posted by ambient2 at 4:44 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


GM crops that could save lives

I get the impression that you don't actually understand what GMOs are. But please, explain to me how Monsanto is saving lives. Explain how high fructose corn syrup made from corn pumped full of pesticides is saving lives. I'm curious.
posted by windykites at 5:09 AM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Fun fact: Williamsburg isn't full of hipsters.

Bullshit. Look at this map. 95% of the people who live there seem to work in some sort of old timey craft nonsense. Weavers, wheelwrights, coopers. What kind of city has a cooper in 2013? A hipster city that's where.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:15 AM on May 13, 2013 [57 favorites]


Negative definitions of hipster are always going to be rejected by hipsters, but positive definitions will be happily accepted as truth. Here's one a lot of people (largely people self-identifying as hipsters?) seem to like:
Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter. [...]
They reject silly societal norms. They treat women and men equally. They treat people of all races equally. They get laid by other hot hipsters.

See? That's you! You are a hipster! (Or you wish you were.)
posted by pracowity at 5:16 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Guys. It's simple. There are different types of hipsters. The key distinction is between postmodern hipsters and millennial hipsters. Postmodern hipsters are the dripping-with-irony ones, the old-school trucker-hat brigade everyone thinks they're talking about when they talk about 'hipsters', but they're dying out bigtime because they're part of an earlier cultural wave. Millennial hipsters are riding on the wave of postirony that's current at the moment. They try really, really hard not to do anything ironically, they actually fetishise earnestness in a sort of sad, longing-for-innocence kind of way.

Millennials themselves divide into subcategories that are a bit location-specific. I only know about East London, where there are two main kinds: 'cutesy' hipsters and 'funky' hipsters. Cutesies are the ones who exhibit exaggerated sexual dimorphism and bake. Funky hipsters are the ones who all seem to wear leggings everywhere and possess strange and impractical sunglasses. Both are reactions to the irony of the postmodern generation, but their approaches are different. The cutesy way is to find things which require too much effort and concentration and applied knowledge for it to be possible to be ironic about them, like knitting or beekeeping. It has something in common, I think, with the mindfulness craze. What the funky set do is try to find the things that are hardest of all to love straightforwardly and love them furiously and unreservedly. They all end up sounding like they took that speech in American Beauty about the plastic bag a bit too seriously. They put bits of plastic crap on their necklaces because they want to honestly see the beauty in them. Both are kind of Kierkegaardian responses to the despair of postmodernity.
posted by Acheman at 5:22 AM on May 13, 2013 [45 favorites]


They all end up sounding like they took that speech in American Beauty about the plastic bag a bit too seriously.

This is a much more brutal cultural condemnation than anything the New York Post has ever published.
posted by escabeche at 5:28 AM on May 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


I do not think in terms of "hipster" when I see people unless they are full-on stereotype... skinny jeans and PBR and a trucker cap and a fixie all at the same time. And I figure they just got that from TV anyway, and they are doing irony ironically.

Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter. [...]

Aside from hating indie rock with aggressive indifference, and having left the 30s behind a while ago, that could be me... and I'm a geek. It could be my parents, retired and living in Nowhere, Georgia. (Except, you know, they were called hippies, not hipsters.) It could be damn near everyone I know, except for a handful of inexplicable libertarians.
posted by Foosnark at 5:30 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


What kind of city has a cooper in 2013? A hipster city that's where.
posted by Bulgaroktonos 24 minutes ago [6 favorites +]

The cooper's of Williamsburg.
posted by From Bklyn at 5:42 AM on May 13, 2013


Aside from hating indie rock with aggressive indifference, and having left the 30s behind a while ago, that could be me...

Exactly.

and I'm a geek.

You think a geek can't be a hipster? I think a geek can be a hipster.

Maybe that's probably the best way to define a hipster: start by defining who and what is not hipster. Can a geek be a hipster? Can a Republican be a hipster? Can a person who doesn't always actively look for new (to them) music be a hipster? Can a racist be a hipster?
posted by pracowity at 5:55 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Who knew that the migration of the bulk of Reed College's ~'98-'02 graduates from the Lutz Tavern to Park Slope/Williamsburg would be so transformative.

just kidding

mostly

posted by snuffleupagus at 6:11 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


They try really, really hard not to do anything ironically, they actually fetishise earnestness in a sort of sad, longing-for-innocence kind of way

Note to people younger than about 35: Back in the day - by which I mean my day, the early/mid nineties - all the young punks were horribly earnest. Riot grrrl? Earnest to the max! Grunge was earnest! It wasn't ironic. Kurt Cobain (who my set all despised with sincere fury, but who actually seems to have been a fairly decent person) wasn't ironic at all. Ok Cola was an attempt to monetize our lack of irony, and it didn't work. What happened was that some of the aesthetic trappings of the earnest - trucker hats, old tee shirts - got put through the designer mill (Dsquared, some trendy high fashion lines that have long since disappeared) and those things were taken up by people who were not part of the sort of political/artistic/musical/literary circles from whence these things originated. I remember very clearly seeing a spread in hm, maybe it was Interview, as I was dating someone who rented a room from a trendy rich gay couple who subscribed, with ironic trucker hats photographed in Brooklyn - this must have been the mid-late nineties.

That's what you're talking about when you're talking about this sort of faux-irony - an "irony" that Adorno wouldn't recognize - and you needn't tar my young days with it.

Vis-a-vis hipsters: some "hipsters" are just broke young-ish folks dealing with this brutal and unequal economy and trying not to be miserable. A few hipsters come from money. A few hipsters - who are chancers who would have gotten rich in any milieu - will parlay craft beer or whatever into wealth and investment capital.

People should have as much freedom to pursue art, music, bike polo, whatever as is possible. Half the reason that people hate "hipsters" is because the haters live in perpetual economic dread. Would we (I say this as someone who isn't a hipster to the kids, but who is a hipster to the squares) even care if someone were making artisanal pickles in a converted loft if we weren't all scrambling around for rich people's crumbs? I argue that we would not! We wouldn't care - we'd just do our own thing! It's because everyone feels like there's less and less - less money, less possibility, less freedom, less safety - and because of the peculiar radically individualistic conditions of the day, we don't actually do anything about it, we just pick at anyone who seems to have better health insurance or more fun than we do, as if tearing them down meant that we'd get their insurance, fun, loft, etc.

I am curious as to how "hipster" relates to race, though. If "hipster" is a white category, what does that mean in terms of politics and ethics? If it's not a white category, what is it? Why is it read as white?
posted by Frowner at 6:19 AM on May 13, 2013 [40 favorites]


" 'GM crops that could save lives'

I get the impression that you don't actually understand what GMOs are. But please, explain to me how Monsanto is saving lives.
"

Hey, windykites, tone down the snark a bit, ok? Here is an example of a GM food designed to save lives.

And the Gates foundation is funding a project to "develop a more nutritious strain of cassava, a root that is the staple food for more than 250 million people in Africa, . . . In addition to increasing the levels of key micronutrients in cassava, researchers will modify the plant to eliminate naturally occurring cyanide and to allow it to be stored for longer periods of time."

And here's a super potato.

These are just the examples that I've been made aware of by undergrad research projects in my ethics classes. I suspect that there are quite a few more.

We should not be too quick to condemn (or praise) an entire class of things.
posted by oddman at 6:23 AM on May 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


at the last Sydney MeFi meetup we met in a hipster area, and most of us lived in hipster areas.

Most mefites know what selection bias is.
posted by pompomtom at 6:36 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


The most interesting paragraph in the article for me was this one, which doesn't focus on the use of the term hipster:
The choice between a carcinogenic and garbage-strewn Williamsburg that is still economically available to the working class or an environmentally sound and “green” North Brooklyn predicated on city subsidized luxury development and working class displacement is a specifically capitalist dichotomy, which has nothing to do with the artists and wannabes who, through no fault of their own, are the first to go once they’ve provided a wedge for developers.
This is a good enough article to make me consider giving Jacobin a second chance.
posted by Wretch729 at 6:50 AM on May 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


at the last Sydney MeFi meetup we met in a hipster area, and most of us lived in hipster areas.

Most mefites know what selection bias is.


Look, I organized that meetup. We met in Surry Hills (Sydney CBD) because it was close to where the MeFite of Honour was staying and was easy for everyone to get to (especially the people with young kids), the crowd was highly diverse in age, profession, interests and family status, and unless the entire Sydney metro area and also Newcastle is a 'hipster area', you, CiS, are full of crap.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:00 AM on May 13, 2013


> Maybe that's probably the best way to define a hipster: start by defining who and what is not hipster.

That's basically how this conversation always goes. People point to aspects of other people's identity as determined by their interactions with consumer America (or lack thereof), explain how those interactions make the other person a hipster, and then defend your own consumer identity from the same accusations.

It's an irritating conversation not because it's the same one each time -- consumer identities are always juicy topic; they're 50% opportunities for personal anxiety and 50% opportunities for interpersonal snark -- but because it sneaks in the assumption that we're talking about individual people who we know, see or imagine ("hipsters") rather than a story ("The Hipster"). And the story of "The Hipster" has it's own unacknowledged assumptions, two of the big ones being that all aspects of a person's identity are deliberately curated, and that there exists a sort of personal authenticity which arises only from the lack of identity curation.
posted by postcommunism at 7:01 AM on May 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


Metafilter often stumbles over race conscious issues and in a similar vein has seemed more often than not to blindly accept antihipster sentiment. For such a left leaning group of seemingly intelligent folk it often surprises me how this place often struggles to see life from another person's perspective. I don't mean so much the individuals who can't but the piling on that seems to occur.

I think Galluzzo makes some good points about how the antihipster thing obscures the real class struggles occurring in NYC. (I do wish he had used a little less pretentious writing to make his point though.)
posted by caddis at 7:02 AM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


> organic food, craft brewing, bespoke clothes, inner city locations, etc.

One of these things is not like the others. Bespoke clothes??
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:18 AM on May 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


That article was very racist and presumptive.

Are all jacobin articles so hateful?
posted by flyinghamster at 7:29 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is that a joke?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:29 AM on May 13, 2013


The author of the article seems to me to have huge psychological issues with race. Characterizing stereotypical hipsters as having light skin repeatedly is anachronistic. The vast majority of the article is reflections on structur/marxism loosely coinciding with a reactive distaste for light-skinned people. (While there are some decent conclusions about work-productivity if you get that far, its hard to trudge through the semantic poop)
posted by flyinghamster at 7:36 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a person in my mid-20s I'm really not sure what people want me to DO at this point. There is absolutely no way I can live my life without a large group of older people heaping dripping, ugly, nasty scorn on top of it. So I'm done caring what they think. Which probably, according to someone, somewhere, makes me a *!~hipster~!*.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:39 AM on May 13, 2013 [14 favorites]


There is absolutely no way I can live my life without a large group of older people heaping dripping, ugly, nasty scorn on top of it.

This is called 'humanity'. The trick is to minimise the number of similarly-aged people heaping dripping ugly etc. Unless you can't be arsed. In which case (and here's the real trick) it's still called 'humanity'.
posted by pompomtom at 7:42 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


shobwiz_liz pretty much underscores the point I wanted to make, which is also something the older MeFites can probably vouch for: this phenomenon is called a "social trend". It has happened in every generation of humans ever. It starts with the kids wanting to do things differently from their parents, their parents throwing up their hands in exasperation and crying "I don't [can't/won't] understand why you would do things that way," and the cycle repeats itself as those children get older and make more children.
posted by Mooseli at 7:42 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


The important bit here being that there is no way to describe a hipster independent of a describer, without also encompassing just about every white person with disposable income, time, and a desire to signal some small amount of resistance to the ills of the day.

I don't think it's hard at all.

A hipster is a single or partnered white person with disposable income who came from a lower middle class or greater familial circumstance, who is not in immediate survival mode and has no belief or fear of ever having to be in survival mode. They do not generally have children and do not have them above elementary age. The bulk of their disposable income is either inherited or acquired with little effort, which allows them to have great moments of spare time. They may choose to spend this spare time working, but if so, it will be an activity they find mentally satisfying rather than financially so.

They primarily pose themselves in opposition to their perceived former class status. While many people self-describe class status poorly, instead of self-describing up, hipsters generally describe themselves at least one class status down from where they actually fall socioeconomically. They attempt to dress and behave in opposition to the social norms and ideals of their youth - they define themselves primarily by what they are not rather than what they are. This also manifests in attitude towards child-rearing and ownership - they tend not to have children, and if they do have children, will have no more than two, and generally, no more than one. They spend their disposable income primarily towards immediate sensations or trinkets rather than large-scale planning for the future.

If involved in political ideals or movements, they will generally engage at low risk to themselves and primarily engage through minor gestures or through providing funding or social media support. The bulk, however, of their engagement in political ideals will either be about preserving the character of a local area that they are transplants to, or about issues that do not directly impact their daily lives.
posted by corb at 7:43 AM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


corb, if that is the case, I have never met a hipster. Which is odd, after living in Philadelphia for a decade and many many trips to Brooklyn.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:46 AM on May 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


> It starts with the kids wanting to do things differently from their parents,

You're implying that the people being identified as "hipsters" are all of a similar age but they are not. I know people who Metafilter would identify as hipsters from every age from 20 to 60.

(Also, the so-called "hipster" clothing styles often appear to be a conscious imitations of the styles from a generation ago... although those are more confined to the younger generation. At least to me, you see far more people imitating their parents - you could have seen pretty well any of these young people at a Nirvana concert...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:46 AM on May 13, 2013


If you say or write the word hipster in 2013 you are an "idiot".
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:49 AM on May 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


I just did it too but at least I know what I am.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:49 AM on May 13, 2013


> A hipster is a single or partnered white person with disposable income who came from a lower middle class or greater familial circumstance, who is not in immediate survival mode and has no belief or fear of ever having to be in survival mode.

Sounds like bullshit to me. I know a shitload of so-called hipsters who literally dumpster dive for food - not as an affectation, but to get enough to eat.

Vintage clothing that was cheap originally; Pabst Blue Ribbon; avoiding expensive haircuts and shaves - these are symptoms of poverty, not wealth. Sure, there are plenty of Trustafiarians, but the economic outlook for 90% of young people is grim these days.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:50 AM on May 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Corb, you don't know what you're talking about. That's a really reactionary and baseless take on hipsters. Read the Urban Dictionary definition I linked to above.
posted by orange swan at 7:51 AM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


> This also manifests in attitude towards child-rearing and ownership - they tend not to have children, and if they do have children, will have no more than two, and generally, no more than one.

Oh, I get it, you're telling some story out of your head that has no correspondance to reality at all!

I live smack-dab in the middle of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and the place is swarming with young so-called "hipster" families with kids. I don't know how many of them have three or more kids compared to the rest of America, but quite likely they simply haven't had time to pop out that many (being young, eh)?

So where are you getting all this information? Reality TV?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:53 AM on May 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Anyway, great article about gentrification and the justifications that the unspoken collusion between the media, developers, and wealthy people looking for new places to live, use to distract urban dwellers from the fact that gentrification can, unchecked, act like a swarm of locusts a lot more than like a rising tide.

The best point in the article is that there doesn't have to be a stark tradeoff between improving a neighborhood and driving a whole group of residents out. You can do it yourselves. It has happened. There are some parts of Brooklyn it seems that have done it, at least anedotally when I walk through them they seem to have diversity, safety, sustainability, convenience and affordability all at once, maybe temporarily but who knows?

I'd love to hear about other cities where gentrification lead to a better neighborhood for all residents without all the dumb belittling labels.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:55 AM on May 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


A hipster is a single or partnered white person with disposable income who came from a lower middle class or greater familial circumstance, who is not in immediate survival mode and has no belief or fear of ever having to be in survival mode.

I'd love to be someone who had no fear of being in survival mode. That would be fucking awesome.

But again, we're returning to this whole "subcultures have nothing to do with history or the economy, they are just personal choices made by People Different From Me Who Are Bad, Selfish And Seemingly Enjoying It". Which is cute, but not very helpful.
posted by Frowner at 7:56 AM on May 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


My theory about the identity of "The Hipster" (as opposed to 'hipsters') is that it's a cognitive reconciliation between working-class labor and upper-middle-class cultural values.

The identity itself arises out of racism and classism. This makes explains why the identity of The Hipster especially happens in locations where much of physical labor has been outsourced to different countries, or the labor is done by an immigrant population. The class hierarchy between labor and capital, or even between manual labor and immaterial labor (see: Lazzarato) is transposed onto a race hierarchy.

When you have a non-immigrant (a white person) doing manual labor, then there's a cultural explanation necessary to explain away this distinction, which is usually explained away by the race hierarchy. Also, economic class divisions also tend to be intellectual divisions also, so the explanation of The Hipster also explains away this cognitive dissonance also.

In other words, for a viewer:
1) (problematic) norm: "Oh, that person is making my food. That is because they are a poor uneducated immigrant."
2) cognitive dissonance: "Why is this person making my food? It looks like they're a college-educated white person!"
3) resolution via the concept of 'The Hipster': "Oh, that person is making my food because they are A Hipster, and that cutesy reappropriation is What Hipsters Do.
4) internalization: "Oh, I'm a Hipster, which is why I choose to make cheese for a living."

NOTE that I'm saying that this definition happens from an external viewpoint. I'm saying that there's not such a thing as The Hipster until there's an unconscously racist, classist viewer who uses the term to reconcile labor with upper-middle-class values. I'm also saying that this means that we should all live our lives, while we figure out the political necessity of understanding why the identity is structured the way it is, which requires us to examine politics in general.

TL;DR: The Hipster is not an identity; it's a problematic value judgment arising from the expectation that intellectual class and race should equate to economic class.
posted by suedehead at 7:57 AM on May 13, 2013 [16 favorites]


"Hippies hippies hippieshippies hippies hippieshippieshippies hippies hippies hippies hippies hippies hippies hippies hippies hippies hippies hippies hippies. Hippieshippieshippieshippieshippies hippieshippieshippieshippieshippies hippies hippies hippies hippies hippies hippies: hippiesv hippies hippies. hHippieshippies hippies, hippies hippies hippies hippies hippies. Hippies."

-- Some idiot in 1977
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:58 AM on May 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


corb has basically just described me and the mister. But I'm dressed in Old Navy!

I'm crying on the inside.
posted by Madamina at 8:07 AM on May 13, 2013


TL;DR: The Hipster is not an identity; it's a problematic value judgment arising from the expectation that intellectual class and race should equate to economic class.

See, this whole thing almost has it - but basically, it seems like you're saying that the problem is that We As A Society need to accept that some people will have shitty jobs and precarious lives, but we also need to accept that this shouldn't be based on race.

I mean, "hipster" cooks or whatever - yes, that's about race in the sense that there are far, far fewer decent jobs, most of which formerly went to white people from the lower middle class or above, and that as a result there's tremendous tension between the jobs that are available and the wishes and dreams of the people who are taking them, and that those wishes and dreams are basically white and/or middle class wishes and dreams. That is, if you have some realistic expectations about having a stable income, enough health insurance and the ability to retire, chances are that you are middle class and chances are that you are white and/or a citizen, and particularly chances are that you are not African-American or an immigrant.

So yeah, saying to yourself "I will never own a house, I will probably never save enough money to have any kind of security, I will probably always have less medical care than I need and I could get wiped out totally by a serious medical bill and I had some hopes and dreams about something better, so I'm going to dress up my precarious cook job as something fancy if the opportunity arises"...yeah, that's about race and class.

But I refuse the kind of discourse about white privilege that says "white people are so spoiled, they expect retirement and decent housing and health insurance and get upset when those things aren't forthcoming, the whiners". I feel like there's this very defeated and reactionary strain in a lot of the conversations around whiteness I see on the internet (and by the internet, I mean tumblr) where the conversation is about correcting white people's expectations of decent treatment. It's like, as we're setting into this godawful era of intensified state violence, precarity and neoliberal decline, we've decided that the big problem is that white people don't want to work for minimum wage and get ripped off by landlords, as if we should all just accept that this is the necessary norm and that protesting can only come from a spoiled sense of specialness.
posted by Frowner at 8:09 AM on May 13, 2013 [33 favorites]


So instead of getting all furious about this again, I'm just going to link to the best thing anyone has ever written on the subject, ever:

Hipsters are better than you, say researchers
posted by ominous_paws at 8:19 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sounds like bullshit to me. I know a shitload of so-called hipsters who literally dumpster dive for food - not as an affectation, but to get enough to eat.

What I'm trying to say is not that everyone who is called a hipster by other people fits that definition, but more that that appears to be the definition of a hipster. Other people may fit aspects of this, and so may be termed hipster by other people, but they're actually not - we use hipster in ways that are really broad, but it doesn't mean that there's no such thing as hipster, essentially. Essentially, we generally tend to use "hipster" as a moral signifier, rather than as a sociological definition. "That guy is way more fake-trendy than me!" rather than, "That guy fits most or all of the sociological markings of this subculture."

I live smack-dab in the middle of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and the place is swarming with young so-called "hipster" families with kids. I don't know how many of them have three or more kids compared to the rest of America, but quite likely they simply haven't had time to pop out that many (being young, eh)?

No, they haven't had the sociological expectations of having that many children, particularly at the age that they are. People certainly had that many children in the past by that age - for hipsters, generally their parent's generation. And expectations of having that many children by those ages are in many cases tied to those expectation of middle class values of that era - that the important thing in life to do is to have a good number of children and provide well for them - to save your money and provide for future generations. So the rebellion against that is to say that the most important thing is to live well - and maybe you do have children, but you do it for /you/, not for some sense of future generations. You do it because you take pleasure in your children - and again, I don't think the children are even that common. And you don't think about what their "inheritance" will be, you think about what their memories will be, or what their life will be like, or what experiences they will have. It ties into the whole recent moves against ownership - rentals rather than owning on houses, cars, etc.
posted by corb at 8:21 AM on May 13, 2013


But I refuse the kind of discourse about white privilege that says "white people are so spoiled, they expect retirement and decent housing and health insurance and get upset when those things aren't forthcoming, the whiners".

Oh yes I agree absolutely. The answer shouldn't be "well, deal with it", either. The answer should be "let's figure out a solution that works". Optimistic change, rather than passive resigned acceptance. And like the article points towards, this is probably only really possible by becoming politically engaged.
posted by suedehead at 8:22 AM on May 13, 2013


corb, the definition of a hipster that you are using is yours and yours alone, and when you use the word hipster you are describing something that has a fundamentally different meaning to everyone else. Which is not how definition, words, and communications should work.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:24 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


> that that appears to be the definition of a hipster.

Because why? Because you say so?

> No, they haven't had the sociological expectations of having that many children,

Again, I think you're just making this up entirely out of your head.

Can you explain what data you are basing this on? Polling and other mathematical data? Or, do you live in a "hipster" area or know a lot of "hipsters" - that's at least anecdotal data...?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:26 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


The choice between a carcinogenic and garbage-strewn Williamsburg that is still economically available to the working class or an environmentally sound and “green” North Brooklyn predicated on city subsidized luxury development and working class displacement is a specifically capitalist dichotomy, which has nothing to do with the artists and wannabes who, through no fault of their own, are the first to go once they’ve provided a wedge for developers.
Yes, I well remember when I moved to Williamsburg in the early nineties, everyone living there knew about the underground oil spill, not to mention the strange smells and high rate of cancer in the neighborhood ("Italians and Polish immigrants just smoke too much").

Then, as the average income in the neighborhood started to rise, the oil spill and cancer rate became an issue -- because obviously the luxury highrises were not going to be profitable when the potential buyers found out.
posted by maggiemaggie at 8:30 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


> "Hippies hippies hippieshippies hippies hippieshippieshippies hippies hippies hippies hippies hippies hippies hippies hippies hippies hippies hippies hippies. Hippieshippieshippieshippieshippies hippieshippieshippieshippieshippies hippies hippies hippies hippies hippies hippies: hippiesv hippies hippies. hHippieshippies hippies, hippies hippies hippies hippies hippies. Hippies."

-- Some idiot in 1977
I'd love to see a compare/contrast done on the rhetoric around hippies then vs. around hipsters now. A lot of the discussion by more distant voices seems to assume that The Hipster is The Hippy 2.0, and assume that everyone else agrees. For those voices (although definitely not for all), it feels like some of the premises of the discussion are inherited from an era where "youth culture" was inseparable from Vietnam and domestic political battles. Those premises might not map well to the current era, but oh boy are they deeply held.

I dunno, though. I wasn't around back then.
posted by postcommunism at 8:37 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


See, this whole thing almost has it - but basically, it seems like you're saying that the problem is that We As A Society need to accept that some people will have shitty jobs and precarious lives, but we also need to accept that this shouldn't be based on race.

Oh and also: well yes, as long as we live in a primarily capitalistic society, some people will have shitty jobs. That's capitalism.

That's why I'm personally interested in social democracies, or market socialism.
posted by suedehead at 8:43 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Yes, I well remember when I moved to Williamsburg in the early nineties, everyone living there knew about the underground oil spill,

The oil is not ubiquitous in the area - the bulk of it is closer to Greenpoint, where the oil would be transferred off barges. As an anecdote, I had the soil in our garden analyzed before I grew anything to eat in it, and it was fine...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:45 AM on May 13, 2013


It's likely that I possess most every generalization there is to be made about "hipsters" -- albeit on the "painfully, wrenchingly sincere" end of the spectrum rather than the "arduously ironic" -- but I don't view it to be the pejorative as which it is often wielded and still have trouble parsing why giving or receiving such a label could actually even matter, largely for reasons like this.

However, I recently met a young man, proud and yet unbowed, all of 23 years old -- and in conversing with him, for the very first time, I heard someone refer to themselves as a hipster.
He certainly embodies many common tropes of one of the "hipster" stereotypes: he's white, firmly entrenched in the service industry/pick-up shifts runaround of the low-paid working class, he has a bunch of tattoos and black-framed glasses and a scruffy beard and impeccable taste in carefully-curated independently-released music, well-read and foxy as all get-out, plus he makes homemade cordials and artisinal liqueurs in order to assist him at his part-time job tending bar at a vegetarian restaurant. But it sort of fractured my brain when I expressed amazement at his beautifully-appointed, heavily-thrifted apartment and he just shrugged, pointing at his collection of bow ties: "Yeah, I know -- I'm a hipster!" Totally straight-faced, not self-deprecating, zero irony; he just felt that was the most accurate way to describe his aesthetic, his whole deal.
And here I'd thought the entire raison d'etre behind "hipster" is that it must be a label that one only applies to others, never to oneself. In all of my years of hearing it bandied about, the closest I feel I can come to approaching an actual definition of "hipster" as it is most commonly used is "someone with whom I may share some characteristics, but who is specifically not me." It just seems derogatory for derogatory's sake, yet another unnecessary way to generalize, other, and divide.

I especially liked this, from TFA: "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 divined by radio at 8:45 AM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Again in the early 90s in Williamsburg my friends and I referred to ourselves in all innocence as hipsters. It wasn't until around 2002 that I first noticed it had become pejorative.

I lived in the Italian section of Williamsburg (by the Graham Ave L stop) and my Italian neighbors seemed to like me very much. They saw me as a nice working girl because I went to my job in the city every day - and they did keep close tabs on me, I'll tell you that.
posted by maggiemaggie at 9:16 AM on May 13, 2013


Can a geek be a hipster?

I though Hipster was a subset of the larger Geek.

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.

Well said.

“We see groups of boys and young men disaffected from the dominant society…. Demonstrably they are not getting enough out of our wealth and civilization. They are not growing up to full capacity. They are failing to assimilate much of the culture. As was predictable, most of the authorities and all of the public spokesmen explain it by saying there has been a failure of socialization. They say that background conditions have interrupted socialization and must be improved. And, not enough effort has been made to guarantee belonging, there must be better bait or punishment. But perhaps there has not been a failure of communication. Perhaps the social message has been communicated clearly to the young men and is unacceptable. In this book I shall therefore take the opposite tack and ask,Socialization to what? to what dominant society and available culture?

Good article. +3.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:20 AM on May 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Zzzzzz. Latest version of groups like Harley riders: conforming non-comformists.

Live to buy. Buy to live.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:45 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


People certainly had that many children in the past by that age - for hipsters, generally their parent's generation.

Well, probably not if their parents emigrated from China after the late 70s. But to me this just seems like a weird thing to claim in general - most people I know in my general age range have zero to two siblings. And to the extent that birth rates have slowed down the and average age of new parents has increased, it is my impression that this is hardly limited to Brooklyn hipsters (and IMO probably reflects economic uncertainty more than a change in values).
posted by en forme de poire at 10:53 AM on May 13, 2013


Note from the linked article: "The biggest declines were among foreign-born women, where the fertility rate plummeted by 14%. Mexican immigrant women showed the steepest drop: 23%."
posted by en forme de poire at 11:01 AM on May 13, 2013


It's just as coherent a social scene as goths, at least from the outside.

Goths call themselves goths and gather in goth clubs, wearing gothic fashion produced by goth-specific fashion designers, in order to listen to goth music performed by goths in goth bands published by goth record labels.

This supposedly comparable "hipster social scene", by contrast, only exists when you look at it from outside. There is no hipster "inside". There is no one hipster social scene. Nobody calls themself a hipster. Nobody thinks they are a hipster. If a bar advertised itself as a "hipster bar", everyone you call a hipster would stay away, because they don't want to hang out with hipsters. Nobody advertises "hipster fashion", because nobody would wear it. "Hipster band" is an insult and all those bands that you think are obviously hipster bands would probably sneer at the actual hipster bands, which aren't hipster bands at all, and would take offense if you called them that. Because there is no such thing.

Hipsters are imaginary. The term is a mostly content-free insult.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:18 AM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


The "subtle homophobia" thing is also a really excellent point, I think. In some cases it is hardly even subtle (ever notice how gay slurs and "hipster" tend to co-occur in online comments?) But the more I think about it the more it seems like many of the negative stereotypes about male hipsters echo or recall old stereotypes about gay men - fey, neurotic and unmanly; obsessed with sex and aesthetics over substance; more disposable income but not from "real" jobs; "clever" and artsy but morally vacuous; prone to narcissism; unable to plan for the future because they are not interested in child-rearing (cf Niall Ferguson's Keynes gaffe); etc. ad nauseam.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:31 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jesus, people, again with the hipsters!

They primarily pose themselves in opposition to their perceived former class status. While many people self-describe class status poorly, instead of self-describing up, hipsters generally describe themselves at least one class status down from where they actually fall socioeconomically. They attempt to dress and behave in opposition to the social norms and ideals of their youth

I'm very sure you're convinced that this is the case. However, as you're also convinced that Maggie Thatcher was a hereditary peer and that the US is threatened by an imminent Communist revolution, I'm going to assume that you speak about sociology with the same degree of authority.

he more I think about it the more it seems like many of the negative stereotypes about male hipsters echo or recall old stereotypes about gay men - fey, neurotic and unmanly

Yeah, what hipster loathing reminds me of most, only much sillier, are the early 20th century fears of decadence, especially of decadent men. Corb even hints at this when she writes "we [by which I assume she means "I"] generally tend to use "hipster" as a moral signifier ..." Go through Max Nordau's Degeneration and see how much his criticisms sound like the superficial criticisms of "hipsters" today.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:55 AM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


OH MY FUCKING CHRIST

Article describing how preoccupation with shallow identity othering of "hipsters" plays into elite capitalism.

Comments? Yeah, let's make 100 parsing how really, hipsters should be marginalized and also they're all like this and lemme tell you about my mates who like the XX or some shit.
posted by klangklangston at 12:17 PM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sorry, that should go in MeTa.
posted by klangklangston at 12:29 PM on May 13, 2013


flyinghamster: The author of the article seems to me to have huge psychological issues with race. Characterizing stereotypical hipsters as having light skin repeatedly is anachronistic. The vast majority of the article is reflections on structur/marxism loosely coinciding with a reactive distaste for light-skinned people. (While there are some decent conclusions about work-productivity if you get that far, its hard to trudge through the semantic poop)

Um, what?

First of all, this is a predominantly white "social scene". I argued above how diverse in interest, occupation, and even a bit income level it is... But it is mostly white people. And there isn't anything inherently wrong with criticizing it as such, nor can you actually really be racist against white people. It just doesn't work that way, sorry.

There are a lot of damning, worthwhile things that could be said against the entire white "hipster" youth scene with relation to race, and plenty of them are in this uncomfortable category of gentrification and the ethnic makeup of "hipster" neighborhoods shifting towards mostly white, and mostly at a higher income level before.

The people who go "hey, what the hell is wrong with me/people moving to that area?" Tend to come off as a bit in poor taste, and sound like they're trying to justify manifest destiny type attitudes or something.

I'm not 100% clear where you were going with that post, but what I do know is most of the people I've heard fielding similar opinions went on to present, or were obviously basing them in some kind of "this guys obviously racist against white people by criticizing them in this area that's awkward and uncomfortable, reverse racism!" And come off like they have a huge persecution complex, and are full of shit.

I just twitched because I've heads this song before, and its gross.
posted by emptythought at 12:31 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


1960s: Fucking Hippies
2010s: Fucking Hipsters
2020s: Fucking Hippos
posted by Debaser626 at 1:58 PM on May 13, 2013


"It ties into the whole recent moves against ownership - rentals rather than owning on houses, cars, etc."

I see. And here I was under the impression that the recent trend towards rentals over ownership is mostly because no one can afford a freaking house any more.
posted by jess at 2:15 PM on May 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


The idea that culture is divorced from economics which is divorced from politics is really stupid and I don't know how it started. And somehow it's obvious that throughout history, (like in the 1920s) the underlying economic situation played into and was reflected in the cultural developments of that time, yet of course TODAY cultural currents develop spontaneously.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:19 PM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile in 2008: Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 2:23 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


That was a good article. Thanks, artof.mulata.
posted by homunculus at 2:34 PM on May 13, 2013


> Meanwhile in 2008

Adbusters counterpoint: Demythologizing Consumption Practices: How Consumers Protect Their Field-Dependent Identity Investments from Devaluing Marketplace Myths
Our study explores the identity investments that consumers make in the field of indie consumption, which has been culturally branded by the hipster marketplace myth. In the most direct sense, “indie” (short for independent) refers to artistic creations produced outside the auspices of media conglomerates and distributed through small-scale and often localized channels (e.g., nonchain local retailers, art-house theaters, DIY channels such as Web sites and zines, and other small-scale enterprises). However, the indie marketplace is embedded in a sociocultural system of collectively shared cultural knowledge, aesthetic tastes, social networks, and systems of social distinction and hierarchies (Fonarow 2006). Through these interlinkages, consumers' indie tastes and practices can also find expression in other aestheticized spheres of consumption, such as fashion and third-place servicescapes (e.g., cafés, clubs, bars, restaurants). As indie consumers build social connections and internalize the cultural logic of indie aesthetic tastes and standards, they also become increasingly aware that their consumer identities have been culturally framed by the hipster myth. For these consumers, the hipster myth is akin to a fun-house mirror that distorts and potentially devalues their cultural interests, aesthetic predilections, and social milieu.
(Emphasis mine. Skip to the Discussion section for the interesting stuff.)
posted by postcommunism at 2:50 PM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Jeez, did I read a completely different article than most people in this thread? the one I read was about othering based loosely around the term "hipster", and how it makes it possible to marginalize (mostly) white service workers*, artists and creative types. What makes it different than historic marginalization of ethnic groups and blue collar workers is that many liberals have become complicit in the marginalization. Everyone can hate on their idea of a "hipster", and consequently no one gives a shit when they are displaced by wealthier corporate interests. Consider how many people here on Metafilter (a place that has been described by many as socially liberal) hate on "hipsters"; parrot the line of "what was Occupy even about?" without bothering to investigate; and generally imagine them to be trustafarians living off their parents' money. It's pretty easy to be unconcerned when they get booted out of their homes even as they continue to work in the FreeTrade coffee place they started in that now serves a wealthier clientele. I mean, that's going on in this thread right now.


... that is what the article is about, right?




*we have many non-white hipsters in Oakland.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:02 PM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ah, Oakland. When I first moved there about 15 years ago it was considered some kind of scary outland where you wouldn't wanna be caught after dark. When I moved away a few months ago, my neighborhood (Temescal) actually had put up signs telling everyone that the area was "hip and cool". I now live in a completely hipster-free environment just outside Oakland which shall remain nameless in hopes of it staying as un-hip as possible as long as possible.
posted by telstar at 3:10 PM on May 13, 2013


I'd love to see a compare/contrast done on the rhetoric around hippies then vs. around hipsters now.

I'd like to see this, too, for the opposite reason. The things people hate about hipsters are the same things the media hated about hippies. They slack, they don't get a job, they don't cut their hair, they wear stupid clothes, they eschew mainstream consumerism in favor of what we'd now called urban homesteading, or they went "back to the land," as many people I'd suspect of being hipster are also doing, as they get older and have kids.

What unites these sometimes compelling, and frequently self-loathing, essays is dissatisfaction with actually existing bohemia.

As for that, it's been true since... forever. The Tolstoyites were poseurs, the hippies were wannabe Beatniks, the grunge folks, were wannabe hippies. Basically, if you aren't already poor as dirt when you decide to live a simpler (or "simpler") life, you're a poseur. If you ARE already poor as dirt, you just don't know any better. Also, the previous generation always did it better (which message is the part I liked about Midnight in Paris.)

As for how authentic this generation is, which is what seems to boil down to- the charge of authenticity is always, in my experience, a way to freeze things in amber and/or denigrate someone's attempts to change their life. (See "authentic" folk music.)

There were plenty of superficial hippies, jumping on the bandwagon for the fun of it, there were plenty of sincere, earnest, and motivated hippies, and there were plenty of people who started out sincere, earnest, and motivated and then got sidelined by addiction or a dozen other things. I expect this generation will be the same.

In other words, basically, this: Even as the New York Times and its ilk now use hipster-bashing to delegitimize the new political awareness among the same un- and underemployed twenty- and thirty-somethings — previously taken to task for their avoidance of politics — the same bashers employ this all-purpose dummy to ventriloquize their own refined and slightly ridiculous consumption habits.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:28 PM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


MeFites people in their twenties and thirties have a vested interest in pushing this line, because most MeFites people in their twenties and thirties fit easily recognizable stereotypes

That may be oversimplifying it a bit, but not by much.


No, most people in the twenties and thirities that we meet fit these stereotypes, because we live in hipster neighborhoods and hang out with hipsters. I don't watch popular TV or sports, but I assume that most people watching the Voice aren't hipsters, and that the crowds I see going to rugby games aren't hipsters. And there are a lot more of them than there are of us.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:43 PM on May 13, 2013


They all end up sounding like they took that speech in American Beauty about the plastic bag a bit too seriously.

what's wrong with that speech? what's wrong with Instagramming bits of urban decay and plastic bags?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:45 PM on May 13, 2013


No, most people in the twenties and thirities that we meet fit these stereotypes, because we live in hipster neighborhoods and hang out with hipsters. I don't watch popular TV or sports, but I assume that most people watching the Voice aren't hipsters, and that the crowds I see going to rugby games aren't hipsters. And there are a lot more of them than there are of us.

And yet (via KokuRyu in the MeTa thread), 50% of American adults under 30 apparently self-identify as hipsters.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:47 PM on May 13, 2013


I'd love to see a compare/contrast done on the rhetoric around hippies then vs. around hipsters now. A lot of the discussion by more distant voices seems to assume that The Hipster is The Hippy 2.0, and assume that everyone else agrees. For those voices (although definitely not for all), it feels like some of the premises of the discussion are inherited from an era where "youth culture" was inseparable from Vietnam and domestic political battles. Those premises might not map well to the current era, but oh boy are they deeply held.

fuck no, i know them both. there's some overlap: see headdresses in indie videos, MGMT, Devendra Banhardt, etc. but the hippy aligned hipsters seem to be slumming it a bit more, while the real hippies are much more obnoxious.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:48 PM on May 13, 2013


> The things people hate about hipsters are the same things the media hated about hippies. They slack, they don't get a job, they don't cut their hair, they wear stupid clothes, they eschew mainstream consumerism in favor of what we'd now called urban homesteading, or they went "back to the land," as many people I'd suspect of being hipster are also doing, as they get older and have kids.

Some people who get identified as hipsters do those things, but I think grouping them is largely a hangover from hippy-bashing; the people who are used to that mode seem to assume that there's some kind of youth movement out there called "Hipsters," kids with their own new generation of politics and ideals and fashions and rebellion. That doesn't really hold true, and without the draft and with an increasingly fractured mass media, why should it?

Which is not to say there aren't current fashions, it's just that there's nothing too far outside the norm. The only movement that I can see is, to a certain extent, the re-urbanization of white people, which occurs predominantly with younger folks (I don't have a cite, but would be surprised to be wrong).
posted by postcommunism at 5:05 PM on May 13, 2013


PPP Flogs Dead Hipster
Whether the persistence of hipster eulogies is a sign of the West’s cultural stagnation or merely the slipperiness of the term, I couldn’t tell you. What’s incontrovertible is the hipster has been dying for about five years now. It’s true because sensitive, trend-spotting journalists have said so. But as far as I know this is the first time its death has been studied gromatically by political scientists
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:05 PM on May 13, 2013


It's a pretty weird day when drunk bike messengers who play bike polo 2-3 days a week are placed into the same category as a girl who works at a thrift store and works on projects for her next art store all night. And that besides this label, never the twain shall meet. And i know both of those examples are "hipstery as fuck", but that's part of my point. what the shit does that even mean?

Hey! I think I saw those two at Cal Anderson Park in Capitol Hill, Seattle over the weekend! It was such a beautiful day, my partner and I agreed, that we grabbed a bus up the hill to get some ice cream. As we stood in line at Molly Moon's, a local place that is relatively worker-conscious and responsible, we watched people lounge about in the park and talked passionately about everything. I debated whether I wanted the Vegan Coconut Chunk or maybe a Honey Lavender cone. But talk soon turned to upcoming events. We're headed to Bumbershoot! I'm especially excited about Teagan and Sara, having a soft-spot for synth-pop. Partner loves Beats Antique. But really? If I wanted to see Beats Antique and Bassnectar, I'd be at Burning Man that week. Ohh, speaking of BM, I forgot, there's a documentary at SIFF this year on it.

Anyways, back to the topic at hand. Don't panic! I didn't see any hipsters around.
posted by formless at 1:09 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
posted by josher71 at 4:47 AM on May 14, 2013


fuck no, i know them both. there's some overlap: see headdresses in indie videos, MGMT, Devendra Banhardt, etc. but the hippy aligned hipsters seem to be slumming it a bit more, while the real hippies are much more obnoxious

Devendra Banhardt? Michael Gira is signing "hipsters" to his record label? You're joking, right?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:53 AM on May 14, 2013


It all starts with the label. Once established we can then see you as other and mock you, deride you, hate you, dehumanize you, you dirty jew, kike, faggot, nigger, wetback, white trash, hippie, commie, welfare mother, capitalist pig, hipster.
posted by caddis at 6:50 AM on May 14, 2013


You know, I had this funny thought.

Okay, I was reading some Samuel Delany short stories from the sixties - "Time Considered As A Helix of Semi-Precious Stones" and "Corona" in particular. I had also been looking at a couple of his pieces of memoir/criticism from The Jewel-Hinged Jaw about his experiences as a young writer/traveler/musician in the sixties. (I'm preparing for a little class/discussion group I'm hoping to lead.)

What struck me about all these things was their optimism about mass pop culture and its intersections with elite and avant-garde culture. All the things I was reading basically turned on the power of popular music as an art form - popular music positioned as something that could be intelligent, challenging, meaningful, community-generating...and could also come into elite or avant-garde cultural worlds and be respected. Based on my reading of Delany's other memoirs and his writing about pop music, I think this is something he genuinely experienced (at least in part) in the sixties and genuinely believed was a real-world possibility.

I found that very exciting - the idea that something does not have to be small, hidden, esoteric to be genuinely sophisticated, complex and good, that something popular could be sophisticated, complex and good not because you're all "Well, Lacan would totally have read the Transformers movie this way" but because it was produced intentionally to be sophisticated, complex and good, produced to be challenging to a wide audience.

And it did make me think of what a fucking drag so much of the contemporary approach to culture is. First something is good/expensive/secret/esoteric, then it's somewhat more accessible, then we automatically assume that it must become empty and exhausted and uninteresting. (And a lot of things actually do! That's the result of this approach! It's not that they are still great and we're just pretending!) So basically, we assume that "good" culture can only at a given time ever be accessible to a few. And we assume that there is no interesting, meaningful mass social body.

See, that's the thing in "Time Considered As A Helix of Semi-Precious Stones" - the singers in that story ("Singers", really) speak to a community - not, like, an awesome community of super special punk rockers, but to this sort of imagined social body that they bring into being. That is such a generous, optimistic concept of the social - that there is some way for people to come together as a community of people-who-live-here (wherever here is) and....and experience an artform that isn't stupid and retrograde and alienating. That there is no barrier to entry except the will to participate.

Now, I'm not saying that in utopia you can't have small secret and esoteric things, but I am saying that right now we have a sad and reduced notion of the social body and how art is experienced, and that makes me sad.
posted by Frowner at 6:52 AM on May 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Frowner, at every hipster party I've been to people go nuts over Teenage Dream. There are certainly hardcore hipsters who live only on the fringe, but the story of musical taste among my peers is one of appreciating the full range of music available. It's frankly awesome to see and to be a part of.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:41 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


See, that's the thing in "Time Considered As A Helix of Semi-Precious Stones" - the singers in that story ("Singers", really) speak to a community - not, like, an awesome community of super special punk rockers, but to this sort of imagined social body that they bring into being. That is such a generous, optimistic concept of the social - that there is some way for people to come together as a community of people-who-live-here (wherever here is) and....and experience an artform that isn't stupid and retrograde and alienating. That there is no barrier to entry except the will to participate.

I love Delaney, and I love that story, but the characters in that story who flit from party to party in pretty elaborate fashions would fit in at a hipster gathering.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:26 PM on May 14, 2013


Here's another group of people: the Thighsters. Thighsters are usually in their thirties and forties. On weekdays Thighster men wear brightly coloured strips of cloth round their necks. On weekends Thighsters wear expensive designer workwear made of denim, but make sure never to get mud or dirt on it. Thighsters transport themselves around in expensive four-wheel-drive SUVs, but never drive them off tarmac. Thighsters are proud of owning enormous televisions.

Now, do Thighsters exist?

Thighsters exist in the sense that you can identify such a group and point to them. But they don't really exist as a distinct subculture, since they don't see themselves as being part of a common group.

More importantly, nobody would really think to give Thighsters a common label, because their attributes are taken as normative.

Owning an SUV that you only drive on tarmac is normal. Owning a fixed-gear bicycle is abnormal. Wearing a tie is normal. Wearing a full beard is abnormal. Owning enormous televisions is normal. Owning artisanal products is abnormal.

Giving one set of attributes a label, while other sets of attributes are just taken as "normal", is part of the social process of defining which attributes are normative.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:07 AM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm curious: of the folks who are discussing the definition of hipster (rather than what it means that we say it), do you disagree with the OP's premise that the way in which the hipster story gets told caters to the already advantaged?
posted by postcommunism at 8:36 AM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Frowner, at every hipster party I've been to people go nuts over Teenage Dream.

I read that as Teenage Fanclub and thought "wow, you have really cool friends!"
posted by mrgrimm at 1:22 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Neo-urban something Flâneur something something postsemiotic afterology.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:55 AM on May 16, 2013


We may be a tribal and territorial species, still obsessed with finding minute differences by which we may judge and rank each other but at least we're not monkeys.
posted by islander at 12:12 AM on May 28, 2013


I'm curious: of the folks who are discussing the definition of hipster (rather than what it means that we say it), do you disagree with the OP's premise that the way in which the hipster story gets told caters to the already advantaged?

A better answer is: I am bored with Marxists. I am tired with their flawed analysis, and find it consistently ignores pieces of information for convenience. I think the words "rigorous Marxist analysis" are an oxymoron.

I do not want to engage in a "critique of the truly privileged and the socioeconomic system which sustains their privilege." I have zero interest in that. It is not that I am focusing on the effeteness of privilege and somehow not realizing the other - I do not mind privilege. But I do think it's a ridiculous lifestyle that contributes nothing to the world. That is my right. I don't resent hipsters - they do not negatively impact my life. But I think they're wrong, and I think they're foolish.

I do not think I need to accept a Marxist analysis in order to comment in the thread.
posted by corb at 6:09 AM on May 28, 2013


"A better answer is: I am bored with Marxists. I am tired with their flawed analysis, and find it consistently ignores pieces of information for convenience. I think the words "rigorous Marxist analysis" are an oxymoron."

… you don't know what the hell you're talking about, and that's your problem, not Marxism's.

"I do not want to engage in a "critique of the truly privileged and the socioeconomic system which sustains their privilege." I have zero interest in that"

And yet, you're in a thread about that. How did that happen? Did you wake up here?

"It is not that I am focusing on the effeteness of privilege and somehow not realizing the other - I do not mind privilege. But I do think it's a ridiculous lifestyle that contributes nothing to the world. That is my right. I don't resent hipsters - they do not negatively impact my life. But I think they're wrong, and I think they're foolish. "

So, you don't know what you're talking about, you don't want to engage the topic of this thread, and you have pretty cliché, reflexive and shallow views on hipsters that we've all heard 1000 times before, but feel you need to restate because … ?

"I do not think I need to accept a Marxist analysis in order to comment in the thread."

You could disagree with the (post-)Marxist analysis that frames the thread by actively engaging it, but since you have substituted contempt for knowledge, you'd be rightly shredded pretty quickly.

This thread is full of people who have engaged critically with Marx and other socialist/communist/materialist political and economic authors, and your desire to have LOL HIPSTER time doesn't trump actual engagement.

If you want to complain further, take it to the fucking MeTa.
posted by klangklangston at 10:43 AM on May 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Rand Paul Is Right: Republicans Need A Crash Hipster Outreach Program
posted by homunculus at 6:00 PM on June 6, 2013


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