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Hipster - The End of Wester Civilization
August 1, 2008 6:59 AM   Subscribe

Self-described 'culture-jammers' Adbusters identify the greatest threat to our way of life - the hipster.

First used to describe white jazz afficionados in the 40's, the alternative subculture it now describes is defined by both the intensity of apparent hatred for it, and the difficulty in finding anyone who will admit they are one.

What's the deal with hipsters? Are they a literal plague of social mimicry and shallowness, a cross-breeding experiment with productivity fetishists, or just a meme for promoting shitty bands?

Or perhaps the whole thing is just a marketing ploy for cheap beer.
posted by Happy Dave (282 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hipsters are people doing anything more modern and/or trendy than I am. Old farts are people doing anything less modern and/or trendy than I am. The trick is to somehow monitor your lawn for the former while partying on the lawn of the latter.
posted by DU at 7:05 AM on August 1, 2008 [123 favorites]


If you enjoy making fun of hipsters, you are a hipster.

Pass the PBR, please.
posted by not_on_display at 7:05 AM on August 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


Trendy young people found to be dull. Film at 11.
posted by ulotrichous at 7:06 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


And all this time I thought it was capitalism that would bring about the end of Western civilization. When do all the people without ironic moustaches rise up and kill all the hipsters, in glorious revolution?
posted by chunking express at 7:07 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, I love the chicks in American Apparel ads, so hipsters aren't all bad.
posted by chunking express at 7:08 AM on August 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm just glad someone took the time to explain this hipster thing to me.
posted by danb at 7:09 AM on August 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


"Standing outside an art-party next to a neat row of locked-up fixed-gear bikes, I come across a couple girls who exemplify hipster homogeneity. I ask one of the girls if her being at an art party and wearing fake eyeglasses, leggings and a flannel shirt makes her a hipster.

“I’m not comfortable with that term,” she replies.

"I'm not comfortable with X." Is that the new way of saying "Fuck you and get the fuck out of my face?" If so, it is all over.
posted by MarshallPoe at 7:09 AM on August 1, 2008


This article lost my support when it tried to date the history of countercultures to post-1945, which is retarded. Almost as retarded as thinking that hipsterism was ever particular countercultural, a point on which the article concludes by agreeing with when it finally puts that word in scare quotes. While the author bemoans a loss of revolutionary heritage, I think he is as guilty of trying to manipulate a social phenomenon as those advertising strategists he denounces on the last pages -- he accuses a style of lacking a substance it never claimed to have. Since when are hipsters carrying the torch for the revolutions of the 20th century? We've all always had enough sense to look elsewhere for political and social justice, to do the work of the revolution, Mr. Haddow's the only one i know of who seemed to think it should have been found in a PBR towards the break of dawn.
posted by jrb223 at 7:10 AM on August 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


I‘m sipping a scummy pint of cloudy beer in the back of a trendy dive bar turned nightclub in the heart of the city’s heroin district.

What club, on what street, in what city? I want to call bullshit on this guy so bad my dick hurts, but I can't even. Why is he intentionally obfuscating these kinds of identifying details throughout the whole article? I mean, come on: Standing outside an art-party next to a neat row of locked-up fixed-gear bikes, I come across a couple girls who exemplify hipster homogeneity.

Really? There was an entire row of exclusively fixed gear bikes outside this supposed party? There wasn't one bike that wasn't fixed gear?

This guy is just making shit up.
posted by The Straightener at 7:11 AM on August 1, 2008 [44 favorites]


Making fun of hipsters is so 2003. Honest to blog.
posted by fungible at 7:12 AM on August 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


A faux shrug shuffle that mocks the very idea of dancing or, at its best, illustrates a non-committal fear of expression typified in a weird twitch/ironic twist

Holy shit, young people getting on all young and broody. WTF is happening to the world.

We are a defeated generation, resigned to the hypocrisy of those before us, who once sang songs of rebellion and now sell them back to us.

Nope, that was generation X, stop copying us.

Let's face it, every generation has something to say about the generation before and the generation after. This is nothing new.

The hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture so detached and disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new.

Funny and a load of unoriginal bullshit. One of the problems of growing up is acceptng you are no longer the cool generation. "Kids these days just have no taste in music or fashion." And how many times have you heard "Oh, that's just ripping off Bob Dylan, can no one be original anymore". Then when you play "original" new music from the kids the parents say "but that's just a load of noise"... will we ever learn to let the kids be kids.
posted by twistedonion at 7:12 AM on August 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


Have all the PBR you want hipsters, but stay the hell away from my High Life, Stag, and Hamm's.

One time I saw some rich kids buying Hamm's, the liquor store cashier was just as annoyed as I was. I could tell.
posted by Science! at 7:13 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't know what's worse: anti-Semitism in Adbusters or the ridiculous article linked to in this FPP. Hipsters are just kids - it's a phase you grow out of, and kids are allowed to be irritating sometimes. However, the people at Adbusters seem to be permanently trapped in high school and permanently rebelling against...television? What a depressing FPP.

Also, if you look at Adbusters covers over the the years, you really get a sense of the misogyny of the magazine
posted by KokuRyu at 7:13 AM on August 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Oh, and before anyone gets there first I know Bob just ripped off Guthrie!
posted by twistedonion at 7:14 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I went to a show last night where they were selling cans of stroh's. I didn't even know they still made stroh's. That was the beer my Dad drank in the 80's. Everyone seemed to be happily drinking it too. Probably because they were selling it for $2 a can.
posted by garlic at 7:19 AM on August 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


i think hipsterism is a plot to sell glossy, smug anti-establishment magazines
posted by pyramid termite at 7:20 AM on August 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


tfs;dr
posted by xod at 7:21 AM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Nobody has made fun of hipsters effectively since Terry Southern's short story "You're Too Hip, Baby," which he wrote back in the 50s, when hipsterism really was a counterculture of jazz aficionados. Come to think of it, a lot of Southern's stories from Red Dirt Marijuana poke fun at hipsters. I particularly like "Blood of a Wig," in which hipsters try to get high by shooting plasma drawn from the arm of a crazy person.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:21 AM on August 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


From a practical point of view, I do have a question about irony, though: At some point, doesn't the trucker hat, mustache and PBR become non-ironic? I mean, if you wear/drink it all the time to the point where you don't even notice anymore, how is that different than someone who does it genuinely?
posted by DU at 7:23 AM on August 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm not even sure what a "hipster" is, but I think I kinda like them, based solely on how bitter, fun-eschewing assholes tend to spew spittle-flecked hatred in their direction.
posted by Shepherd at 7:23 AM on August 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


1. "I’m dubious of these hypotheses because they always smell of an agenda." That about summed it up....

(personally I love the smell of an agenda on a rainy spring day)

2. We all know that GWB brought about the fall of the western civilization....

3. they said this about ragtime, jazz, pot, rock and roll, blue jeans, the Beatles, Punk Rock, crack, Hip Hop (well, that one might be true), and, eventually, they'll say it about your favorite band/style/beer/drug (all of which, by the way, suck).
posted by HuronBob at 7:26 AM on August 1, 2008


The gist of the article: Hipster from one iteration past bemoans shallowness of present generation hipsters , calls them posers and yells at them to get off his lawn. Nothing new here, it's been going on for generations.
posted by Daddy-O at 7:27 AM on August 1, 2008


DJ's hate hipsters. The first thing they do when they get into a club is zero in on the DJ and ask, "Do You have any ________________ ?"
posted by doctorschlock at 7:28 AM on August 1, 2008


I didn't even know they still made stroh's.

It even comes in 15-packs that cost less than a 6-pack of decent beer. This is the stuff to bring on a camping trip if High Life 30-packs aren't on sale.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:28 AM on August 1, 2008


I'd always understood "hipster" as someone who tried to claim creativity by proxy, by acquiring someone else's creative output, and trying to defend that acquisition as unique by deriding anyone and everyone else who acquired it as wannabes.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:29 AM on August 1, 2008 [39 favorites]


Honestly, is there a less relevant magazine than Adbusters? Has there ever been? They're the PeTA of publications--a bunch of buffoons making constant fuss by repeatedly preaching to the choir; the very definition of worthless. I can't believe my tax dollars supported this fucking shitrag.
posted by dobbs at 7:33 AM on August 1, 2008 [10 favorites]


AdBusters is supported by tax dollars?
posted by DU at 7:36 AM on August 1, 2008


I'm a hipster.
posted by naju at 7:36 AM on August 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


Personally, I turn the article (and this thread) into my own personal surreal vaudeville using only the magic of Greasemonkey.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:38 AM on August 1, 2008


These hipsters, they aren't authentic the way punk rock and the Aquarians were!

*eye roll* Because, you know, no one ever gave a thought to the self-conscious production of identity before 2004.
posted by everichon at 7:38 AM on August 1, 2008


(sorry just testing out the words)
posted by naju at 7:38 AM on August 1, 2008


I just wish people would leave PBR alone. It's a perfectly presentable shitty American beer, it doesn't need all this goddam drama.
posted by cortex at 7:41 AM on August 1, 2008 [23 favorites]


All the hipsters I see in my neighborhood seem to be enjoying themselves...you know, having fun. Good for them. Soon they'll be older and other people will be having all that fun.
posted by creasy boy at 7:41 AM on August 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


Also: "culture jamming"? Hosers.

I know AB and that term have been around for years, but if they get any less relevant they're going to fold space.
posted by everichon at 7:44 AM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Black sheep are still sheep
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 7:46 AM on August 1, 2008 [10 favorites]


Silly AdBusters. Youth culture is for kids.

What I think is damn near impossible for any recently succeeded generation to accept is that your parents did not, in fact, look down upon the "revolutionary" trappings of your adolescent obsessions because said obsessions were too h@rdk0r3 for them to deal with. Your parents looked down on your adolescent obsessions because those obsessions, to them, were fucking stupid recycled rehash that was loud and annoying and moronic beyond belief. And you know what? For the most part, they were right. Because you were seventeen, a lemming with no taste, like every other seventeen-year-old in the history of the world. Sure, some of what you liked then you still think is great, but not most of it; and I assure you that all kinds of movies you remember fondly that you haven't seen in fifteen years are really quite terrible, your favorite high school band almost certainly will suck to your now-adult ears, and so on. Kids have bad taste because kids are young and stupid, and so were you. It has been e'er thus.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:47 AM on August 1, 2008 [50 favorites]


Just being on Metafilter is pretty much enough to make you at least a lesser hipster.

It is very funny when people try to deny being hipsters.

The best was when jessamyn denied being a hipster right after she was a panelist at the blog conference at SXSW.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:47 AM on August 1, 2008 [7 favorites]


It has been e'er thus.

Which is why I can't help but think that the author of the piece is a) 20 years old, or b) a troll.
posted by everichon at 7:49 AM on August 1, 2008


I liked this article better when it was called The Rise of the Idiots.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:49 AM on August 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Well futile.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:51 AM on August 1, 2008


Just being on Metafilter is pretty much enough to make you at least a lesser hipster.

You may send my skinny jeans and Bianchi San Jose (54cm pls) to:

Everichon
c/o Postmaster
Ashland, OR, 97520
posted by everichon at 7:51 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was into some shallow, vapid shit in my twenties. From reading this article, it would seem that today's twenty-somethings are also possibly engaging in some shallow, vapid shit. I don't know - I'm too busy doing shit that will probably seem shallow and vapid in another ten years.

“And they must be buried for cool to be reborn.”

That's the article writer quoting somebody else on the hipsters, but my only question is: WTF Adbusters - worried about cool? I thought your whole thing was standing up to the establishment and not worrying about what they told us was cool.
posted by never used baby shoes at 7:52 AM on August 1, 2008


Kids have bad taste because kids are young and stupid, and so were you. It has been e'er thus.

Please be sarcastic when you say this. You don't mean it do you??

Kids do not have bad taste. they have kids taste. Everything is a great big new experience. Kids are young but a lot more insightful than bitter jaded middle aged, middle class, middle of the road "adults"

My teen years introduced me to Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Cannabis, LSD, Coffee and so many other things my adult years couldn't bear to live without.

I admire the kids of today and I hope I'll admire the kids of tomorrow. But that's probably just because I loved being one and getting old and boring and judgemental sucks big time.
posted by twistedonion at 7:55 AM on August 1, 2008 [16 favorites]


The single key text in Neal Stewart's codification of the meaning of P.B.R. is the book No Logo, by the journalist Naomi Klein. Published in 2000, No Logo is about the incursion of brands and marketing into every sphere of public life, the bullying and rapacious mind-set that this trend represents and evidence of a grass-roots backlash against it, especially among young people. Klein's view is that this would feed a new wave of activists who targeted corporations. Stewart's view is that the book contains ''many good marketing ideas.''

Of course, No Logo, contains "many good marketing ideas", why didn't I think of that? This reminds me of the old Bill Hicks routine, "Bills going for the marketeers are evil market; that's a good market to be in, our research is bring in some great numbers there.", but also kind of makes me feel slightly ill..
posted by munchbunch at 7:55 AM on August 1, 2008


...and get off my lawn!
posted by PenDevil at 7:55 AM on August 1, 2008


heh, the one thing my adult years couldn't bear to live with would be LSD, that really shouldn't be in there. I'm glad I had the experience though, but never again. Ever.
posted by twistedonion at 7:57 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Trendy young people found to be dull. Film at 11.

The "film at 11" type comments are really inane.
If you don't have anything meaningful to say, just don't say anything.
posted by sour cream at 7:58 AM on August 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Adbusters is a magazine with one point to make, which it did years ago. Now it pretends to be relevant by picking on whoever it can.
posted by rottytooth at 7:58 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I mean, if you wear/drink it all the time to the point where you don't even notice anymore, how is that different than someone who does it genuinely?

The apex of artificiality is the ability to switch brand association at a moment's notice. The irony is evident when you see these trust fund kids jumping ship, or being pushed off it by the younger trust fund kids with newer trends.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:02 AM on August 1, 2008


I hated hipsters before it was cool.
posted by rocket88 at 8:07 AM on August 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


I'm not even sure what a "hipster" is, but I think I kinda like them, based solely on how bitter, fun-eschewing assholes tend to spew spittle-flecked hatred in their direction.

Amen, brother. To borrow a line from Absolute Beginners, complaining about hipsters is a sure sign of defeat.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:07 AM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm a hipster doofus. BIG difference.
I have the kavorka.
posted by willmize at 8:10 AM on August 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


I prefer relaxing with my [possibly] hipster friends, who will talk about politics, philosophy, art, music, drugs, weird shit, etc. to relaxing with my lawyer friends who will invariably talk about their jobs and family. Who's really the more apathetic of those two groups?
posted by naju at 8:14 AM on August 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


How did I know that clicking a link about hipsters would yield a picture of a fixed-gear bike? It's unfortunate that an otherwise-cool device now has the connotations of being obsessively aesthetic. (Although, I visited Seattle a few weeks ago and had a good laugh watching the hipsters walk their bikes up the hills. Apparently it is cooler to just push your bike around town :P)
posted by jrockway at 8:15 AM on August 1, 2008


This article is a parody, I think, of hipster haters. If not, it's sort of pointless. I like Adbusters, but haven't read it in a while...

Do the folks at Adbusters really think that "hipsters" are the ultimate sign of the decline of Western civilization, as opposed to suburban princesses/princes with diamond-encrusted SUVs? (or more hyperbolically, CIA-schooled torturers at Guantanamo?)

I really do not think so. Something else is going on there.

Old Milwaukee surpassed PBR long ago, btw. But Stroh's FTW! (If you can find it.)

heh, the one thing my adult years couldn't bear to live with would be LSD, that really shouldn't be in there.

Oh yes. In fact ... where can I find some? Vitamin L seems very hard to find these days...
posted by mrgrimm at 8:16 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


TheStraightener Really? There was an entire row of exclusively fixed gear bikes outside this supposed party? There wasn't one bike that wasn't fixed gear?


It's artistic generalization. Come on. Pedantry is so not hip.


Anyway, this is a poorly-written article that touches on some important points. The first is that this "counterculture" movement isn't really counter to anything, or have any agenda whatsoever. The hippies and the punks and the b-boys (and possibly even the ravers) all had some kind of social change associated with them. The modern iteration of hipsterism does not; its precepts are unapologetically self-referential and judged relative to other members of the scene.

Second, this generation of kids really has bought into consumerism whole hog. The idea that one can ally oneself with an ideal or a group simply by buying the right things (and that near-misses to the right things are the least cool of all) is something that boggles my mind.

Third, it's really easy to make fun of them.
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:21 AM on August 1, 2008 [15 favorites]


Oh, that's precious. The self-loathing marketing demographic has someone else to despise! I'm glad that they published this article, which clearly informs their subscriber base that they are most emphatically not hipsters, and furthermore, are in fact too cool for school.

I'm also glad I made this post to metafilter, so that everybody knows that I am, in turn, too cool for AdBusters. Hopefully this comment will be "favorited" repeatedly, bolstering my sense of self-importance.

Furthermore, I'm pleased with myself for including that last bit of snarky self-deprecation, slyly indicating that I am too cool for metafilter, which makes me the secret King! of! the! Universe!

Disclaimer: Gawker called me a hipster in 2003. I got over it.
posted by phooky at 8:22 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


What yesterday's old man and today's ironic hipster have in common: Molson Stock Ale. ...At least in Canada.
posted by Kabanos at 8:22 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey man, get on the horn, call some freaky people, and we'll have a scene.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 8:23 AM on August 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


"If you don't have anything meaningful to say, just don't say anything."

matt will be deleting 82.5% of Metafilter shortly.... news at 11
posted by HuronBob at 8:25 AM on August 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


Also: American Apparel ads really skeeze me out. Every time I walk by one of their billboards or stores, I feel like I've just caught a glimpse of child porn.
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:27 AM on August 1, 2008 [7 favorites]


In the article, he basically says it isn't the fault of the hipster kids,

"Hipsterdom is the first “counterculture” to be born under the advertising industry’s microscope, leaving it open to constant manipulation but also forcing its participants to continually shift their interests and affiliations. Less a subculture, the hipster is a consumer group – using their capital to purchase empty authenticity and rebellion. But the moment a trend, band, sound, style or feeling gains too much exposure, it is suddenly looked upon with disdain. Hipsters cannot afford to maintain any cultural loyalties or affiliations for fear they will lose relevance. "

That makes it clear to me that hipsters know exactly what is wrong with hipsters, try to change it or at least ironically acknowledge that their youth is being corrupted and that act of trying to be different immediately makes them a hipster all over again.

"We are a lost generation, desperately clinging to anything that feels real, but too afraid to become it ourselves. We are a defeated generation, resigned to the hypocrisy of those before us, who once sang songs of rebellion and now sell them back to us. We are the last generation, a culmination of all previous things, destroyed by the vapidity that surrounds us. The hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture so detached and disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new. "

It isn't their fault for being ironic, Its the fault of the meta-industry that is gets its income from selling anything young and fresh. If anything young and fresh isn't going to stay like that for long, why bother? Attacking hipsters is attacking the symptoms, not the disease.

Hipsters don't just drink shitty beer. I would say they look for the uncorrupted and fresh non - corporate things to a fault. Ok, so their ridiculously ironic, but I'd say they've helped create several generally good things.

American Apparel - No brand labeling, workers who get paid real wages and an attempt to be sustainable

An interest in local/non corporate music - The mainstream music business is fucked up, Mmmkay? This eventually turns into a holier then thou, I'm less mainstream then Thou attitude, but in the process they are supporting art.
posted by Suparnova at 8:27 AM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Honestly, is there a less relevant magazine than Adbusters? Has there ever been? They're the PeTA of publications--a bunch of buffoons making constant fuss by repeatedly preaching to the choir; the very definition of worthless. I can't believe my tax dollars supported this fucking shitrag.

Adbusters hates everyone. I understand it is mostly read by ad execs.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:27 AM on August 1, 2008


Hipsterism is counterculture? Sorry, I need to go out back and laugh.
posted by tinkertown at 8:28 AM on August 1, 2008


It isn't their fault for being ironic, Its the fault of the meta-industry that is gets its income from selling anything young and fresh.

Reacting to the meta-industry just encourages them. That's the problem with hipsters. Their reaction to the meta-industry culture perpetuates the myth that it is important. They are unoriginal because everything they do is a reaction to someone else's work. In that sense, it is the ad-soaked popular culture that is more authentic.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:30 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is a neat post. I hope it's not unhip to favorite it....
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 8:32 AM on August 1, 2008


Ah, OK. Another favorite. I was the only one when I composed the comment.
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 8:37 AM on August 1, 2008


For a second I thought Adbusters was shooting itself in the foot with this article, but then I remember that a hipster's favorite activity is criticizing hipsters as if he weren't one himself. Then I thought, "Well played, Adbusters. Well played."

I noticed, however, that they failed to mention how many of the hipsters they were criticizing were wearing Black Spot shoes.
posted by shmegegge at 8:37 AM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


"it is the ad-soaked popular culture that is more authentic"

Um, no. At least hipsters are trying (and probably failing) to point out something that is wrong, rather then selling baseless materialism and brand loyalty.

And everyone is discussing hipsters like their some sort of homogenous whole. Perhaps it is becoming more so, now that it is getting advertising and media attention, but not all hipsters are DJ's wearing skinny jeans and a kiffeyah, all the while having no idea how commercial they are. Stereotypes rarely work.
posted by Suparnova at 8:38 AM on August 1, 2008


"Deliberate nonchalance"

Perfect.


Hipsters are just people who don't make enough money to live in Manhattan - and then they pretend that it's cool not to live in Manhattan.
posted by Zambrano at 8:41 AM on August 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


The Rebel Sell (aka Nation of Rebels: Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture):
September 2003 marked a turning point in the development of Western civilization. It was the month that Adbusters magazine started accepting orders for the Black Spot Sneaker, its own signature brand of "subversive" running shoes. After that day, no rational person could possibly believe that there is any tension between "mainstream" and "alternative" culture. After that day, it became obvious to everyone that cultural rebellion, of the type epitomized by Adbusters magazine, is not a threat to the system-it is the system.

Founded in 1989, Adbusters is the flagship publication of the culture-jamming movement. In their view, society has become so thoroughly permeated with propaganda and lies, largely as a consequence of advertising, that the culture as a whole has become an enormous system of ideology-all designed to reproduce faith in "the system." The goal of the culture jammers is quite literally to "jam" the culture, by subverting the messages used to reproduce this faith and blocking the channels through which it is propagated. This in turn is thought to have radical political consequences. In 1999, Adbusters editor Kalle Lasn argued that culture jamming "will become to our era what civil rights was to the '60s, what feminism was to the '70s, what environmental activism was to the '80s."

Five years later, he's using the Adbusters brand to flog his own trademark line of running shoes. What happened? Did Adbusters sell out?

Absolutely not. It is essential that we all see and understand this. Adbusters did not sell out, because there was nothing to sell out in the first place. Adbusters never had a revolutionary doctrine. What they had was simply a warmed-over version of the countercultural thinking that has dominated leftist politics since the '60s. And this type of countercultural politics, far from being a revolutionary doctrine, has been one of the primary forces driving consumer capitalism for the past forty years.
posted by designbot at 8:41 AM on August 1, 2008 [20 favorites]


I am proud to be a post-hipster.
posted by elmono at 8:43 AM on August 1, 2008


The article seems to leave out the origins of these tendencies, which I believe is the Internet.

Anything you want is available. And its fun to reference past stuff like sparkle tights or bozo glasses.

But when you trend with your neighbor and not with what you genuinely discover and like, it does, as the article says, become "drained of meaning." But, then again, what is a "movement" if everyone involved doesn't follow along similar lines? One crazy guy with a pink mohawk is an anomaly, but hundreds of them stopping to tie their red shoelaces is a phenomenon. So I don't know.

But I do know gears are great, fuck a fixie.
posted by plexi at 8:44 AM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think hipsterdom is particularly interesting because I agree with the author that it's the dead end of Western civ. But he doesn't say anything compelling about the phenomenon at all.

Here's my explanation for hipster self-hatred. All previous countercultures since you could really begin to speak of a counterculture--I would say, since the Romantics--have been fundamentally grounded in an appeal to authenticity. The Romantics prided themselves on their ability to express pure emotion. The Symbolists--Rimbaud most of all--constantly sought the link to Being, the limit-experiences that break through the surface of daily life. The Surrealists attempted to realize art by using the unconscious (maybe the ultimate appeal to authenticity). The Beats followed the Symbolists, sometimes. The hippies, of course, were a paradigm case: the return to Rousseau, the emphasis on the purity of agriculture. (You could say that the New Left, too, was searching for authenticity in a kind of Frantz Fanonian revolutionary self-realization). The punks ditched society's rules, exposing its shallowness by bringing forth an animalistic brutality; "evolution is a process too slow to save my soul," sang Darby Crash. And what is hip-hop but a constant return to the true and real life of the streets from the obfuscation of the white man's tricknology? (Listen to Brand Nubian for the way this process interacts with Nation of Islam imagery).

A relatively new trend in Western thought--and culture--changed this familiar pattern, even before the hipsters. The idea of authenticity, after Derrida (after Nietzsche), became a dirty word. Authenticity was exposed as an ideological abstraction, an unachievable origin point that generates an endless chain of "supplements" which bring us farther and farther away from it. There was no more defending the concept of unmediated experience.

Hipsterdom is the first counterculture to arise with and take into account the condition that we, for better or worse, call "postmodernity." As such, it cannot appeal to authenticity; it plays with surface, with collage, with costume--with everything "superficial." But of course this could never be innocent while capitalism was around to sell it everything it needed. Thus hipsterdom stopped being a "counter" culture on any substantive level at all: there has almost never been a group of non-mainstream youth so invested in the preservation of the system, for all their Naomi Klein platitudes.

Hipster self-hatred is the return of the repressed appeal to authenticity. After all, hipsterdom incorporated into itself all of its predecessors. The self-hatred, then, is the condemnation of everything it stands for by the value systems it inherited--which provide the only semblance of a normative content hipsterdom can ever manifest. This means hipsterdom is constantly at odds with itself, unable to resolve the contradiction between its countercultural heritage and its thoroughly capitalized rejection of authenticity. Authenticity, within hipsterdom, is a zombie--dead, yet unkillable, and always threatening.

This contradiction lies behind the most familiar elements of hipster culture. Pabst, high-school sports T-shirts (until recently?), Bruce Springsteen, old vinyl, trucker hats--all these are the paraphernalia of a world where authenticity could be easily and unproblematically assumed, the earnest and unpretentious vanished world of the blue-collar male. Of course, this is ironic: in searching for authenticity hipsterdom once more encounters only its superficial, external expressions. (This was Derrida's point, in a way. The hipsters are looking for authenticity, "presence," but can only seem to reach it by constructing a "supplement," which seems like a pretty good facsimile of the real thing until you realize that it never resolves the aporia, the gap between the authentic and the fake, which made it necessary to begin with.)

Is there a future for the counterculture as a social formation? I don't think so. The hipsters mark the point where rebels stop selling out and start buying in.

(I'm a hipster. I still hate them, but there's no sense in lying to yourself. I have a friend who's a college radio DJ, used to be a bike messenger, and goes to noise shows on the regular. Yet he adamantly denies he's a hipster, and gets all offended when I tell him he's full of shit. It's this kind of "hipocrisy" which props up hipster culture.)
posted by nasreddin at 8:45 AM on August 1, 2008 [317 favorites]


I don't know if I am a hipster, but I am so hip I have difficulty seeing over my pelvis.
posted by splice at 8:49 AM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think no one wants to be called a hipster because there's a built in smear of "in-authenticity" in the phrase and "being authentic" has become an important measure to a select group of people. Another example of this is the word tourist. Among the same group of people (including myself), it's nearly offensive to be considered a tourist. (Think back to "Fight Club" when it's used as a slur)

You're there to experience the "real" India, Japan, or Orlando. You're not one of those people with a camera around their neck buying cheap trinkets.

It's so strange, because it's both subconscious and forced.
posted by drezdn at 8:49 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


At least hipsters are trying (and probably failing) to point out something that is wrong

What is "wrong" about ad-soaked popular culture? OK, you can say that you don't like it, but please point me to the stone tablets where this was written by the hand of God and brought down from the Mountain by the thick-glasses Moses in tight T-shirts and jeans?

You don't like ad-soaked popular culture, that's fine. But your preferences do not an imperative for everyone else make. Your opinions about the world are no better than the rest of ours.

For me, I don't really enjoy much of it, and I don't really participate in it very much. But I do not thing it is "wrong." Ignoring these things makes them go away, engaging them makes ad execs pick through the culture these hipsters generate and find new combinations to sell stuff with. That's the real irony.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:49 AM on August 1, 2008


Vitamin L seems very hard to find these days...

I haven't seen any in about 10 years. Maybe someday some good person will send some to me in the post.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:50 AM on August 1, 2008


"heh, the one thing my adult years couldn't bear to live with would be LSD, that really shouldn't be in there."

Damn it, now I really am alone.
posted by mykescipark at 8:51 AM on August 1, 2008


I think one of the reasons for all the backlash against hipsters is how unwelcoming as a community they seem. Of course, that implies that they have a community in the first place. In my experience, it seems like the more symptoms of being a hipster someone has, the less likely they are to be welcoming to outsiders. Contrast that with members of other subcultures who seem more than happy to talk about those things for which they are passionate. You see a dude with a denim vest and an old Motorhead t-shirt at a party and you can be fairly sure that if you walk up to him and talk about metal of days gone by, he'd be happy to talk to you. You ask the hipster about whatever song they've been bobbing their head to and you get shrugs and dismissal.

In the linked article, I think the hipsters' refusal to self identify as being hipsters is pretty on point. Many other subcultures' "uniforms" are just public markings that show what the wearer likes, supports, or is passionate about, but the hipster's "uniform" is the sum total of their interest. It is a shell and there's not much to the subculture underneath, a fact that the members of the subculture are aware of on some level. That awareness then makes them a bit touchy about questions regarding the subculture, thus turning them into those kids from those Apple Jacks commercials who roll their eyes whenever some adult complains that their cereal does not taste much like apples. If you don't get it, they will not make much effort to help you get it, which can then turn outsiders into detractors who, like, totally didn't want to get invited to that birthday party anyways.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:52 AM on August 1, 2008 [14 favorites]


American Apparel - No brand labeling, workers who get paid real wages and an attempt to be sustainable

There's plenty of branding to go along with American Apparel products and plenty of people pay real, sustainable wages without subjecting us to borderline cp. Not that Calvin Klein, A&F, Jordache and Guess already subjected us to it previously, and understanding that sex does sell, I expect yet another apparel retailer will combined the aforementioned and offer it up to us five years from now as something new and trendy and prolly "green". Welcome to Product Lifecycle 101.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:54 AM on August 1, 2008


What'd the hipster say when he walked into the bar?

There are too many fucking hipsters here, let's leave.

I went to college in Portland, a city filled with hipsters. But it was ok. They're easy to make fun of, but on the whole, the music coming from that scene (Dandy Warhols, Decembrists, etc.) was good and if you were on the edge of the scene (always been too much of a geek to be a hipster, plus I just can't do the fashion) they were nice to you. The queeny bitchiness seemed to be devoted to only those on the inside. A culture that is welcoming of outsiders, I'm ok with that.

And it left more good beer for me.
posted by Hactar at 8:57 AM on August 1, 2008


I'd like to think that the hipster movement is the end of criticism. It's like everyone was set adrift by postmodernism and has been subsisting on a steady diet of satire, irony, and ennui ever since. They mock, they document with their polaroids and holgas, and then they mock their documents. It's a cycle of criticism, and thermodynamics suggests that we lose energy after every spin; once there's nothing left, the only direction will be up.

Will the protestant work ethic become the new cool? I'd like to see that.
posted by The White Hat at 8:59 AM on August 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


The modern iteration of hipsterism

There isn't any "modern iteration of hipsterism." There's just a collection of styles, fashions, and trends that some people have decided to call "hipsterism" either because they want the cultural capital--the plaisir, shall we say--that they believe is associated with those styles or because they want the cultural capital they believe is associated with distancing themselves from those styles.

But Adbusters is such a drag. If it was a person, it would be that cat who's always going on about not owning a TV.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:00 AM on August 1, 2008


I'm a norm.
I drink water out of the fountain.
I eat egg salad sandwiches.
I don't do lunch.
I don't do brunch.
I don't do sloppy seconds either.
posted by doctorschlock at 9:02 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


"You don't like ad-soaked popular culture, that's fine. But your preferences do not an imperative for everyone else make. Your opinions about the world are no better than the rest of ours."

When adverstising specifically targets young children and implants in them brand loyalty and desire specifically so they can nag they're parents into buying them things, yes that is wrong. If a 10 year old shoulden't be subjected to ciggerette advertising because he is not yet ready to make a choice for himself concerning the detrimental effects of smoking, why should they're be advertising focused on him that promotes extremely unhealthy food? I just think child advertising is dirty, subversive and wrong.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think anti-advertising sentiment is really deserving of a magazine or its own line of shoes as adbusters has done, but I woulden't want my future kid to be raised by Dora the Explorer and cooked for by Ronald McDonald, and I don't want my future kid even subjected to that kind of media pressure.

I don't support cencorship by any means, and I really don't have a solution to any of this, I just think its wrong to attack someone for wanting to eat healthily, even if they are just trying to be trendy, or trying to buy clothing that isn't made in China, or riding thier bike everywhere. So what if its trendy, its positive.
posted by Suparnova at 9:02 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


On reread, sort of what nasreddin said, but with a more hopeful outlook.
posted by The White Hat at 9:03 AM on August 1, 2008


Hipsters are magical. They can turn a run down neighborhood into a real estate gold mine!
posted by cazoo at 9:03 AM on August 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


TheOnlyCoolTim: Just being on Metafilter is pretty much enough to make you at least a lesser hipster....

The best was when jessamyn denied being a hipster right after she was a panelist at the blog conference at SXSW.


No offense to anybody intended, but say what? SXSW? I understand that the word 'hipster is very context-specific, but the article under discussion concerns a fairly specific youth subculture, you know.

Admittedly, I have a hard time imagining a context in which I would describe an industry conference for web professionals as 'hip' or 'cool.' You have to wear name tags. Jesus, people there talk about tags. All the while uploading photos of their brisket and breakfast tacos to Flickr. Not hip. Let's try to keep this word under control.
posted by cobra libre at 9:04 AM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Adbusters hates everyone. I understand it is mostly read by ad execs.

Yeah, I read it when I was in advertising. So did all the other young people in advertising. I quit reading it about the same time I quit advertising. Why else would you read it?

(All those statements are also true of No Logo. Also, there are tons of ad copywriters who are big Bill Hicks fans.)

To me, it all comes down to a brilliant moment in Mad Men when someone tells Don Draper, "advertising doesn't work on me." Don Draper's knowing smile is priceless.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:04 AM on August 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


One thing that's been bugging me, maybe this should go in AskMe: if PBR is so damn trendy, why is it still so cheap? Maybe "supply and demand" is for the squares?
posted by naju at 9:05 AM on August 1, 2008


Ironmouth, The wrong is that because we are largely unaware of how deeply we swim in adculture (think fish in water) that we have no frame of reference outside of being in adculture and can thus not make any sort of rational independent decision about our lives as consumers. Take beef for example; a Black Angus porterhouse from Cub Foods is ok (yeah I live in the Midwest, what of it?) but it doesn't hold a candle to the porterhouse that you buy direct from a farmer at a market. However, most people buy the store Black Angus because they've been told its a) better (which is not true) and b) cheaper (which is true) than the farmer's market beef.

The current trend of hipsterism is the ultimate expression of this deep adculture involvement.

But, for my own perspective I do feel that one of the lowest values of hipster culture (besides drinking crappy beer) is that of ironic mal-expression and passive aggression. The following thread is a perfect example of my feelings on the subject (from a few points of view), for a clear record I post on that board as Severian. BikeForums.net SSFG forum thread title "Are they all like this in Wiz-CON-sinn?"

Now, I do recognize that maybe the OP in that thread was making fun of Hipsters AND Midwesterners, but the vibe I got was of extreme negativity.

your results may vary
posted by Sam.Burdick at 9:06 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hipsters are magical. They can turn a run down neighborhood into a real estate gold mine!

in the current climate I don't think any subculture is going to create real estate gold mines! What with all that credit crunching going on (anyone else think credit crunch sounds like a new breakfast cereal?)
posted by twistedonion at 9:13 AM on August 1, 2008


However, most people buy the store Black Angus because they've been told its a) better (which is not true) and b) cheaper (which is true) than the farmer's market beef.

I'd be surprised if anyone bought supermarket branded food because they believed it to be better (in the UK anyway). People still can't help themselves because it's cheaper though.
posted by twistedonion at 9:15 AM on August 1, 2008


I just think its wrong to attack someone for wanting to eat healthily, even if they are just trying to be trendy, or trying to buy clothing that isn't made in China, or riding thier bike everywhere. So what if its trendy, its positive.

You don't have to be a hipster to eat healthy, or ride your bike everywhere, or think that cigarette advertising is bad. Nobody is attacking hipsters for that.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:17 AM on August 1, 2008


twistedonion,

it seems to be that way in many places here in the states. sadly enough.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 9:17 AM on August 1, 2008


Is there a future for the counterculture as a social formation?

what used to be the counterculture is now the mainstream

the real counterculture listens to christian rock radio, votes conservative, goes to a mega-church and wants to change the world in its image, which, at its more honest and sincere moments, does not have much to do with capitalism or consumer culture

note that i do not approve of this or want it to succeed into the mainstream - but hipsters aren't engaged in a significant rebellion against the norm

the people i'm talking about are, unfortunately
posted by pyramid termite at 9:20 AM on August 1, 2008 [7 favorites]


The hippies and the punks and the b-boys (and possibly even the ravers) all had some kind of social change associated with them. The modern iteration of hipsterism does not; its precepts are unapologetically self-referential and judged relative to other members of the scene.

Second, this generation of kids really has bought into consumerism whole hog. The idea that one can ally oneself with an ideal or a group simply by buying the right things (and that near-misses to the right things are the least cool of all) is something that boggles my mind.


Yes, these hipsters are such consumerist sheep; thinking they're cool for wearing skinny jeans.

If they were real rebels, like the people in the authentic countercultural movements you mentioned, they would all be wearing bell-bottom jeans, ripped jeans, baggy jeans, or ludicrously-baggy jeans. I just don't understand what's wrong with these kids today.
posted by designbot at 9:21 AM on August 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


A couple of years ago on an electronic music messageboard a kid was describing all the neat garbage he got for christmas including a subscription to Adbusters. Damn near spat my fuck out through my pie hole.
posted by fleetmouse at 9:21 AM on August 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


What club, on what street, in what city?

The author is from Vancouver so my guess is he's describing some club in Gastown near the DTES (close enough to the seedier side of life to be cool without being life threatening) I can't imagine these kids having the fortitude to down a PBR at the Balmoral.
posted by squeak at 9:21 AM on August 1, 2008


People do seem to be attacking them for recognizing that their choices are not that of the mainstream, and making a concoius effort to be seperate from the "mainstream" of bad choices based on brand loyalty.

Of course they are at the same time making diffrent bad choices based on brand loyalty (ugh, PBR). So yeah, hipster culture is flawed. But it isn't exactly some mass movement of bored white kids trying to look edgy either.
posted by Suparnova at 9:22 AM on August 1, 2008


I think one of the reasons for all the backlash against hipsters is how unwelcoming as a community they seem.

I called the local college radio station recently, and asked about a song the dj just played. It turned out to be Frightened Rabbit, but she answered only after expressing huffing scorn and a dripping disdain that I would even call and bother her to ask, like the information was a closely guarded secret.

It was very sad, that something that should cause someone happiness is turned into a terrible chore.
posted by plexi at 9:22 AM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Jon_Evil: ...this "counterculture" movement isn't really counter to anything, or have any agenda whatsoever.

Actually the author did make the point that these kids are extremely observant of pop culture, and if something that they like becomes popular beyond some invisible boundary only they can calculate, then it is no longer to be endorsed by hipster culture. That suggests that they are indeed a counterculture, or at least trying to be one: they hate the idea of being marketed to, of being just another consumer. Clearly they are consumers, but part of the point of the movement seems to be originality in consumption, moving onto new trends before the marketers can catch up. The movement can't have an agenda, then, because once the agenda became known, marketers could get a bead on their target.

If the hipster movement (such as it is) can be called the end of Western civilization, it must be because we've finally reached the last impasse between capitalism and the sentiment of individuality. Hipsters are looking for the latter, regardless of whether they find it.

It goes without saying that this form of counterculture is not usually successful at avoiding the traps of capitalism, given their simple approach of frequently shifting focal points of desire. All fashion movements need some visible distinguishing marks, and these will always be marketable. Take skinny jeans, for example; they've been trendy and sold by Wal-Mart and Target for over a year now, and hipsters show no sign of letting them go in the near future.

Unlike counterculture movements in the past, movements that have had manifestos and similar accoutrements, the hipster tactic for evading marketers seems not to have been planned in the slightest. Hipsters don't continually shift trends for the sake of making marketers' task difficult; they do it unconsciously, because (I suppose) of a sense of revulsion at being successfully caught by marketing. There are probably many better ways to avoid getting caught, but because that's not the express purpose of the movement (again, such as it is), we won't see hipsters using them.
posted by voltairemodern at 9:26 AM on August 1, 2008 [7 favorites]


they hate the idea of being marketed to
About the same way Br'er Rabbit hated the idea of getting thrown in that briar patch.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:33 AM on August 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


It's LOLCats all the way down, anyway, so why make a fuss?
posted by signal at 9:33 AM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


they hate the idea of being marketed to, of being just another consumer. Clearly they are consumers, but part of the point of the movement seems to be originality in consumption, moving onto new trends before the marketers can catch up.

You just described what many people were saying about "Generation X" about 15-16 years ago.

The more things change ...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:35 AM on August 1, 2008


Ironmouth, The wrong is that because we are largely unaware of how deeply we swim in adculture (think fish in water) that we have no frame of reference outside of being in adculture and can thus not make any sort of rational independent decision about our lives as consumers.

This attitude is at the core of what people generally despise about hipsters (and Adbusters)--the idea that they know better than us what is good for us.

Who is largely unaware of how deeply we swim in adculture? The fact that people make choices that you disagree with doesn't mean that they somehow have no idea what they are doing. That is just pure arrogance. Statements that the great unwashed somehow don't know what is going on around them will have to be backed up by evidence. No wonder Democrats keep losing elections.

The worst part of both hipsterism and Adbusters is that their culture is built expressly upon the idea that others' choices are wrong and theirs are right. There really is no difference between the core of that idea and any fundamentalist christian who has no respect for anyone who doesn't follow his or her way of life and thinking.

People are just as smart as you--they are just choosing to make different choices.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:36 AM on August 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


if you're AWARE that you are sipping a scummy pint of cloudy beer in the back of a trendy dive bar turned nightclub in the heart of the city’s heroin district, you're a hipster.
posted by quonsar at 9:41 AM on August 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm glad that I was never hip even when it was hip to be hip. It's too much work, frankly.
posted by blucevalo at 9:43 AM on August 1, 2008


Hmm I've got this: The page you are trying to view cannot be shown because it uses an invalid or unsupported form of compression.

Nice work, Adbusters.

PS Ironmouth is completely right, and anyone who disagrees with him is a moron hipster.
posted by Mister_A at 9:47 AM on August 1, 2008


People are just as smart as you--they are just choosing to make different choices.

Are you saying that the choices we make are arbitrary and inconsequential? Is that the choice you want to choose? [/Mike Brady]
posted by fleetmouse at 9:48 AM on August 1, 2008


Ironmouth,

This attitude is at the core of what people generally despise about hipsters (and Adbusters)--the idea that they know better than us what is good for us.

I would argue (since I don't read Adbuster) that hipster culture also embraces the "You don't know so you can't know and will never attain knowledge" secret society mentality without ever actually knowing. And this kind of nastiness is what turns me off about them.

Who is largely unaware of how deeply we swim in adculture? The fact that people make choices that you disagree with doesn't mean that they somehow have no idea what they are doing. That is just pure arrogance. Statements that the great unwashed somehow don't know what is going on around them will have to be backed up by evidence. No wonder Democrats keep losing elections.

I'm not sure what you mean by your question up there. If its "Who is aware of how deep we are" I'd say no-one except a historian with a perfect knowledge of marketing history and corporate law. If your question is rhetorical (As in no one knows how deep we are and we may only be in the shallow shoals of adculture) then I'll decline to speculate. I'd be ok with people making bad choices if they could consciously discuss their choices and point to all the influences that made those choices happen. The most that the common American (in particular) and most of the world in general can get up as a reason is "because its cool" or some variant thereof. Its this blindness to the influences of media that is so sickening.

The worst part of both hipsterism and Adbusters is that their culture is built expressly upon the idea that others' choices are wrong and theirs are right. There really is no difference between the core of that idea and any fundamentalist christian who has no respect for anyone who doesn't follow his or her way of life and thinking.

People are just as smart as you--they are just choosing to make different choices.


Assigning right and wrong is a human problem and not one that I'm going to tackle here. What I'd like to discuss, perhaps not here though this discussion sparked it, is the problem of ignorance. I do grant that most of society is at least as smart as I am. But, I'd be willing to bet that most of society doesn't make conscious decisions about consumption most of the time.

As for calling me arrogant, and bringing Democrats into the discussion... leave those at the door, you came in the wrong room for that.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 9:49 AM on August 1, 2008


And please, can we not say "hipster movement"? The whole thing is contrived to get guys with no muscles laid (not that there's anything wrong with that).
posted by Mister_A at 9:49 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


The whole movement/fad/lifestyle choice makes me think of Syrup and Shampoo Planet.

It also makes me think of J.C. Penney's Breakfast Club commercial (you tube link), because I'm sure this has all happened before and probably for the same reasons, but now, now it pisses me off.
posted by BeReasonable at 9:55 AM on August 1, 2008


nasreddin, I am totally going to work "Frantz Fanonian revolutionary self-realization" into my conversations from now on. Thank you.
posted by tommasz at 9:56 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


AdBusters is supported by tax dollars?

There is a program in Canada that allows certain mags that had managed to put out 3 issues on their own dime to be qualified for subsidies for future issues. It's the reason CineAction Magazine was able to survive for so long when barely anyone who doesn't write for it reads it. AdBusters is probably no longer eligible as their circulation is probably too high (I think it has to be less than 25k) but I'd eat something unpleasant if they didn't grab some of that cash when they started.
posted by dobbs at 9:56 AM on August 1, 2008


Anyone who thinks Adbusters is a counterculture magazine has absolutely no credibility to comment on the counterculture (or lack thereof) in today's society. What a pretentious piece of shit that magazine is!

The whole "hipster" business really jerks my chain - It's a recycled critique of youth culture from the 80's (along with the skinny jeans and the keffiyah). Everyone is copying everyone, from the critics to the criticized. It's a feedback loop that never stops reverberating.

The kids are fine. They have always been fine. Just because they don't do things the way you think they should be done doesn't mean that they're wrong.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:02 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


In the midst of this calm, eloquent, reasoned discussion, can I point out that the article blows and sucks at the same time? It reads like it was written by a 14-year old who just found his brother's stash of vintage Poison records and realized that the Jonas Brothers did not, in fact, invent the guitar solo.
Adbusters is way past the 'self parody' stage into I don't honestly know what.
posted by signal at 10:04 AM on August 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Sam, Ironmouth's point was that it's arrogant and high-handed to assume that people aren't aware that they're living in a world that is saturated with advertising.

He's completely right; this is classic stoned-sophomore reasoning at work:

"I have just had a vision: there's advertising everywhere! No one but me and the chosen few who liked Modest Mouse until they got too big know about this! The poor down-trodden polyethnic hordes of the inner city, who I won't deign to actually interact with, but for whose (to me) amorphous causes I fight in weak proxy have no idea that people want them to buy cigarettes! Cheap cigarettes! They should buy American Spirits like me! Anyway, yeah, I have to save these people from their over-arching ignorance and point out that a lot of the things that they buy are advertised! By talking about it with my pals who hate the Arctic Monkeys, and whose tattoos are completely non-conformist, exactly like mine, I will save the unwashed masses!"

People like this are irritating, because they assume that just because the guy who fixes the toilet didn't go to RISD (OR DID HE??!!?!) they couldn't possibly know anything "deep" about the way the world works, couldn't possibly have undergone any kind of self-examination, couldn't possibly have an interesting thought or observation. A lot of hipsters still think it's a compliment to call black people "articulate", and think that they (black people) are all like the Michael Clark Duncan character in The Green Mile.

Wow, that was off topic.
posted by Mister_A at 10:05 AM on August 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


The author is from Vancouver so my guess is he's describing some club in Gastown near the DTES (close enough to the seedier side of life to be cool without being life threatening)

Strangely enough, I've never found the DTES in Vancouver to be particularly threatening. It is unpleasant, and who in their right mind would want to have a few beers at the Ivanhoe? It's just gross, and I don't think the fact that "hipsters" (who appear to be, for all intents and purposes, a bugbear or shibboleth) should lose points because they choose to exercise common sense.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:05 AM on August 1, 2008


This thing about the lofi party shots always gets me -
if you're really partying that hard, you're going to be too out of it to hold a camera.
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:07 AM on August 1, 2008


But, I'd be willing to bet that most of society doesn't make conscious decisions about consumption most of the time.

That attitude, whether you are willing to acknowledge it or not, is arrogant at its root. The idea is that because all of these dumbasses aren't paying attention to why they are buying these things and gee, if they would only buy the brand I do, or act as I do, things would be better. I'm sorry if that upsets you, but I call them like I see them.

More importantly, who is to say that these people are not relying on unconcious awareness that is as valid as your conscious awareness method of making consumer purchase decisions.

As for bringing the Democrats into it, my point is really one fully articulated by Rick Perlstein in his excellent book Nixonland. The idea that people in a free society can be convinced to do something by telling them that they are being stupid and that they should smarten up like you is pretty dumb.

As for being in the wrong room, I'd look around. This is Metafilter you are on.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:09 AM on August 1, 2008


Also, 99.44% of the people who read AdBusters are Junior Art Directors.
posted by Mister_A at 10:09 AM on August 1, 2008


nasreddin gets it spot on.

And was, staggeringly, the first person to mention postmodernism.
posted by imperium at 10:13 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Man, I'm so uncool I don't even know what the cool people are calling uncool anymore.
posted by Legomancer at 10:13 AM on August 1, 2008


"if they would only buy the brand I do, or act as I do, things would be better"

Red herring.

He doesn't want people to follow him, you know this. He's simply pointing out that there's a lot of people who follow what is around them without examining why.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:16 AM on August 1, 2008


Yes, that was pretty good work by nasreddin. Him smart!
posted by Mister_A at 10:17 AM on August 1, 2008


This is a lot to wade in on, so I'll keep it short.

Hipsters, as a general category, are annoying. They are not, however, the end of western civ. In general hipsters are people with more self-obsession than self-awareness. In short, they are just a group of consumers.

Also they talk too much.
posted by elwoodwiles at 10:18 AM on August 1, 2008



This thing about the lofi party shots always gets me -
if you're really partying that hard, you're going to be too out of it to hold a camera.


I've been to parties where half the entertainment apparently consisted of taking pictures of how much fun we were having (for the benefit of the facebook audience). It was revolting.

This one time, at one of these parties, I noticed a girl sitting on the couch all alone, snapping a picture of herself with her cell phone, looking at it, snapping another one, looking at it...
posted by nasreddin at 10:23 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mister_A,

I hope thats what he meant. I do get a good bit of this from my wife who is currently studying advertising in general, and drug advertising in particular, as part of her graduate program and both she an I had to spend some time and really discuss what influenced our consumer choices and found that (particularly in my case) some of my choices had no cause beyond what I'd read online. The internet being most of my media consumption.

Where I disagree with her is that a person can have an a priori knowledge of their consumption choices.

The funny thing is that we're all following what appears to be a chain of behavior similar to that which is discussed in the article as we discuss AdBuster and consumerism. Do I chose or do I not chose and based on what criterion? Do I mock those who do not chose and how do I do so? Do I purchase the same goods as those who I despise but with a "full knowledge" of what has created my consumer choice? Or am I merely a prawn in another cultural stream entire unconscious of my own choice to vilify a particular "other"?

Ironmouth calling me arrogant for my disapproval of unconscious consumer choices could be seen as taking a stance in opposition to mine to defend the very people (who aren't privy to our discussion) I am discussing. So is this cultural stream (I like water motifs, heh) self-referential at this point? Are we going to get anything out of our discussion or is it a dead end as the FPP article would like to argue it is?

on preview to Ironmouth: I know I said ignorant. But, nowhere did I say that people should make the same consumer choices that I make, except for that beef thing but I happen to like the taste of the cows raised here in Wisconsin. And isn't calling me arrogant loaded with the same rhetorical venom as arguing that a stupid person is one who doesn't make the same choices I do?
posted by Sam.Burdick at 10:24 AM on August 1, 2008


Whoa! Sexy party indeed.
posted by Mister_A at 10:24 AM on August 1, 2008


nasreddin: Thank you. Awesome comment - I can now stop reading this thread.
posted by elwoodwiles at 10:25 AM on August 1, 2008


I don't know, I think it probably does mark the end of western civilization when a nerd like me gets described as hipsterish, as I was the other night.
posted by Caduceus at 10:30 AM on August 1, 2008


I'll be so fucking glad when fixed gear bikes become untrendy or unhip or uncool or fall out of fashion whatever the right word is. A perfectly good bike subculture with a long and storied history driven into the ground

Sincerely,
fixedgear
posted by fixedgear at 10:35 AM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't get what the dude's thesis is, other than "pull up your pants". Yeah, these sound like pretty vapid people, but BFD. What are they doing or not doing that's wrong? Being advertised to? 20-somethings having a lot of their culture manufactured is somehow new and dangerous? What SHOULD they be using for transportation, if fixed-gear bikes are so wrong?

I don't want to sound like one of those "it's always been this way so how can it be wrong?" types here, but there's an awful lot of hand-wringing shown here over the fact that some people choose their beer brand based on something besides taste. I understand the problem of uncritical consumption, but surely these people exemplify it no more than just about any other group you could point out.
posted by Legomancer at 10:40 AM on August 1, 2008


kittens for breakfast: "... your favorite high school band almost certainly will suck to your now-adult ears, and so on. Kids have bad taste because kids are young and stupid, and so were you. It has been e'er thus."

Sorry, Nirvana, Radiohead, The Cure and Minor Threat do not suck.

That said, latter-day GnR, Post-Justice Metallica and Green Day do, indeed, all suck.
posted by symbioid at 10:41 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Suicide bomb a Dan Deacon show (sorry Dan) and you're off to a good start*.

*DHS: I don't mean this. Please don't waterboard me.
posted by basicchannel at 10:45 AM on August 1, 2008


Legomancer,

The biggest problem is that they're drinking bad beer to mock the people who drink bad beer.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 10:48 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


The author is from Vancouver so my guess is he's describing some club in Gastown near the DTES (close enough to the seedier side of life to be cool without being life threatening) I can't imagine these kids having the fortitude to down a PBR at the Balmoral.

I work in a bookstore and I paged through the article when it came in; my guess is that he's at the Astoria judging from the photos and the description of the evening. Specifically, it sounds like the nights a friend of a friend runs, where there are multiple DJs, video art on the walls, a roving photographer, and the clientele matches. It's just east of Main and Hastings, and was a dive bar until the hipsters took it over.
posted by heeeraldo at 10:57 AM on August 1, 2008


fixedgear, hold tight. I'll let you know when I'm done putting my bike together. Me on a fixie will be the final nail in the coffin.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:06 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


The biggest problem is that they're drinking bad beer to mock the people who drink bad beer.

It might be a little more complicated than that. They may be mocking the people who drink bad beer in part as a way to excuse the choice to drink bad, less expensive beer. And perhaps the mockery stands as a foil for a genuine curiosity about the anti-cool embrace of old brands or bad fashion. Or as some half-thought-out attempt to actually broaden their own cultural horizon inward by attempting to just plain embrace (and thereby build a bridge to) elements of common American culture they've been taught to reject as Other or less worthy.

Some of them may have even grown up drinking the bad beer in the first place. Some of them may have grown up wearing AC/DC t-shirts and wearing hats. Transplants from parts of the country less steeped in non-ironic hipness, bringing with them in their immigration to The City some elements of the unironic local culture they came out of, and having to find a way to keep that stuff without being destroyed for it.

Mix all that up with a whole lot of the Young and the Stupid and the kind of aggressively self-referential mashup aesthetic that's really at a high cycle right now and you get something fairly weird and complicated. And then people take turns drawing big circles that don't quiet overlap, and everybody calls their own circle the same thing, and everything in one or another circle is defined as being shit a priori, and all of a sudden you have great penumbras of pseudo-hipster crowds implicated for, basically, being proximous to some signifiers that a bunch of people are annoyed with.

To the point where "hipster" becomes an incontestible accusation. Hey, I can pin Hipster Signifier X on you: you're a hipster. Don't deny. Hipsters always deny it, ergo you prove your guilt. The things you like, the way you dress, the places you go, the town you live in: tainted with Hipster. It's retroactive, too; no matter if you liked it before it was damning evidence. Hell, liking it before it was coolly uncool is just the sort of stuff a hipster does, anyway.

And then you have some core, truly obnoxious folks who are happy to buy into it as not just a weird culture-proxy apellation with all vagueness and uselessness of "Generation X = [broad brush characterization]" but as an actual ideology or cultural philosophy or some such happy crappy, and those are the ones who are more than happy to get in front of a mic and make it all the worse for tossing out idiotic soundbytes and half-baked Hipster Wisdom for everybody to latch onto in the anti-hipster thing.

To the point where, see above, ha ha but not really funny, a motherfucker can't walk into a bar and order a PBR because they're just plain fucking thirsty without being, in somebody's eyes, a Hipster. Blech. Fuck off.
posted by cortex at 11:06 AM on August 1, 2008 [18 favorites]


(Man, I got going there. To be clear, the "fuck off" is a general rhetorical growl into the wilderness and not directed at Sam.Burdick specifically.)
posted by cortex at 11:08 AM on August 1, 2008


Sorry, Nirvana, Radiohead, The Cure and Minor Threat do not suck.

That said, latter-day GnR, Post-Justice Metallica and Green Day do, indeed, all suck.


This is what I am saying.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:09 AM on August 1, 2008


But, nowhere did I say that people should make the same consumer choices that I make, except for that beef thing but I happen to like the taste of the cows raised here in Wisconsin.

However, most people buy the store Black Angus because they've been told its a) better (which is not true) and b) cheaper (which is true) than the farmer's market beef.


I think you went a bit further than you think you did and I think it kind of indicates where it is you are coming from. You don't really know why people are buying that beef. Are you there at the supermarket when they do so? No. So then you cannot know this. Unless you have a method for reading those people's minds, you simply cannot know. There is where the arrogance creeps in--you assume that the choices people are making are for "bad" reasons and that they should make choices as you do.

Also ignorant implies the choices they are making are wrong. You can't used langauge that loaded lightly. When I say arrogant, I mean it. No offense to you personally, but I'm not going to tell other people that what they are doing with their own choices is wrong.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:13 AM on August 1, 2008


I'm not a hipster. I'm a wannabe hipster. You may begin your hating.
posted by threeturtles at 11:14 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


To the point where, see above, ha ha but not really funny, a motherfucker can't walk into a bar and order a PBR because they're just plain fucking thirsty without being, in somebody's eyes, a Hipster.

this is utterly funny to me because where i live pbr is just another damn beer, 99c a 24 oz can, cheaper than bud or miller
posted by pyramid termite at 11:17 AM on August 1, 2008


No shit. Hipsters.
posted by Pecinpah at 11:17 AM on August 1, 2008


Also, I am grateful I live in Texas where the Ironic Cheap Beer is Lone Star, the National Beer of Texas. It does not suck. (I prefer Shiner Bock. My beer preferences keep me from ever moving out of state.)
posted by threeturtles at 11:18 AM on August 1, 2008


Ironmouth calling me arrogant for my disapproval of unconscious consumer choices could be seen as taking a stance in opposition to mine to defend the very people (who aren't privy to our discussion) I am discussing.

Aren't privy to our discussion? Are you fucking kidding me? (And I believe you are misunderstanding Ironmouth's argument, which I read as being not as that you are arrogant for disapproving of unconscious consumer choices, but for thinking that anyone making consumer choices different than your own must be doing so unconsciously because of course were these right-thinking people they'd be making the same choices you make.)

The biggest problem is that they're drinking bad beer to mock the people who drink bad beer.

I'm not really sure who I'm defending, but I think you're rather wide of the mark there. I've known an awful lot of PBR drinkers, hipsters and otherwise, and none of them has ever had that motivation that I've been able to discern. (It's the insufferable yuppie beer snobs who mock people for drinking PBR, sans irony or guile, though they never seem to get any shit for it. Maybe, as cortex suggests, you're just encountering a protective facade of irony from people who don't want to have to listen to an enumeration of the crimes of rice against beer while they're trying to drink cheaply and in peace.)
posted by enn at 11:20 AM on August 1, 2008


Oooh! I think my buttons were just pushed... it kinda' tickles.
posted by DonnyMac at 11:21 AM on August 1, 2008


Sorry, Nirvana, Radiohead, The Cure and Minor Threat do not suck.

Previously:

Why do people prefer music from their teenage years?

Why are we so connected emotionally to music from our generation, but not others?

Some Exploratory Findings on the Development of Musical Tastes
Preferences toward popular music appear to reflect tastes acquired during late adolescence or early adulthood. In an empirical investigation of this parsimonious inductive proposition, both the aggregate results (R = 0.84) and the disaggregated findings (R = 0.46) suggest that the development of tastes for popular music follows an inverted U-shaped pattern that reaches a peak in about the 24th year.
posted by designbot at 11:26 AM on August 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


Well as one of those 'culture jamming' types, I used to enjoy the early issues of AdBusters, but when they went uber-designerish I realized they was just a bunch of posturing hacks looking to cash in on Brand Anti-Consumer. As one of their patron saints, I happy would tell them to go fuck themselves, or at least cut me a check.

As for those you would call 'hipsters', if you're the person who likes slapping labels on people to avoid actually getting to know them; I live in the Mission District in SF, so ground zero in the Bay Area for hipsters, they smile alot so I'm assume they are happy which is more than I can say for most of you people.

Shallow is as shallow does.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 11:28 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


whose tattoos are completely non-conformist, exactly like mine

I had an existential moment a few weeks back when I saw someone that had the same tattoo I have. It wasn't spot-on-the-same, his was in color while mine has an additional icon laid over it, but it was of the same symbol and was located on the same part of the same leg as mine. I have never seen someone with a similar tattoo as me, although I fully expect that they exist, and to see someone's ink be so very similar fractured a bit of my non-conformist self identity.

The fact that the guy was working in an Apple store completely shattered it.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:28 AM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]



I'm not really sure who I'm defending, but I think you're rather wide of the mark there. I've known an awful lot of PBR drinkers, hipsters and otherwise, and none of them has ever had that motivation that I've been able to discern. (It's the insufferable yuppie beer snobs who mock people for drinking PBR, sans irony or guile, though they never seem to get any shit for it. Maybe, as cortex suggests, you're just encountering a protective facade of irony from people who don't want to have to listen to an enumeration of the crimes of rice against beer while they're trying to drink cheaply and in peace.)


Yep. Most of the real hipsters I know have moved on from drinking PBR to drinking Harpoon IPA and mocking people who drink PBR.

Actually, I like PBR. For the taste, among other things. It's meek and inoffensive and a six-pack will give you a nice, mellow buzz. I bet if you took a barrel of PBR, dumped five pounds of hops into it, then put it in a nice fancy microbrew bottle, beer snobs would buy it by the gallon.
posted by nasreddin at 11:30 AM on August 1, 2008


The fact that people make choices that you disagree with doesn't mean that they somehow have no idea what they are doing. That is just pure arrogance.

I agree wholeheartedly with what Ironmouth and Mister_A (say, any relation to the Ditko character?) have been saying, and I would like to elaborate on that it is not only arrogant to assume that people don't really know what's going on, man, and therefore make choices that I disagree with, but it seems that many hipster/Ad-Busters types (among others,) get angry when people also have different priorities for which decisions are important to them. Many people probably haven't given a lot of thought to the ads which surround them, because it's quite possible that they simply don't care, because they have higher priorities.

It's especially obvious in people who are into a kind of lifestyle supremacy, where not only eating the right foods and enjoying the right music or books is paramount, but that not even pursuing a subject with the same amount of slavishness or intensity is looked down upon, be it politics, fashiom, art, or food.
posted by Snyder at 11:30 AM on August 1, 2008


I think the quest for authenticity is almost too on point to describe Peter Pan syndrome hipsters. Its almost like the quest for the quest for authenticity.

That said, I always thought that Adbusters was being ironic (see the Blackspot sneakers they sell, for "kicking corporate ass") -- so I don't know if we all just got punk'd.
posted by dobie at 11:31 AM on August 1, 2008


The rise of hipsterdom displays a cultural shift towards art. Past subcultures had their fashions and their artistic statements but those were side products appended to their ideologies. At some point, scarcity was largely eradicated in America and suddenly their was a widespread follow your dreams attitude pushed at the youth from the class with the resources to make a difference. As a result many became disdainful of some distorted image of cubicle prisons and wage slavery and labor in general. The voices that were telling people to work hard and get a real job were ridiculed by seemingly moral and compassionate people encouraging them into music, art, poetry, literature or whatever fashion their passion lies in. Unfortunately while these things can bring joy, they are net social sinks and in pushing them, the idea that it was virtuous to work hard at things that may be unpleasant but are important for society became diminished.

So now we have hipsters in an end game, trying to find social acceptance by one-upping eachother with every obscure fashion they can find. The more time spent obsessing with culture, the less time we can be spending performing the tasks that help the world thrive. This will be a numbers concern since hipsters are social sinks and not even remotely self sustaining. The more there are, the worse it will be for everyone else. The unwillingness to admit to being a hipster allows the subculture to grow without hitting that point where it becomes uncool. If it becomes mainstream the extreme exclusivity pushes people who otherwise want no part into either reactionary beliefs or into selling out their values for social acceptance. Postmodernist rhetoric makes it neigh impossible to criticize their lack of mores in any effective manner.

At this moment I fear the threat christian conservatism poses to America far more. But the ability of hipsters to seriously hurt society is not absent.
posted by kigpig at 11:33 AM on August 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


That said, I always thought that Adbusters was being ironic

Related
posted by nasreddin at 11:35 AM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Do the folks at Adbusters really think that "hipsters" are the ultimate sign of the decline of Western civilization, as opposed to suburban princesses/princes with diamond-encrusted SUVs? (or more hyperbolically, CIA-schooled torturers at Guantanamo?)

The folks at Adbusters think that everything is the ultimate sign of the decline of Western civilization.
posted by spiderwire at 11:40 AM on August 1, 2008


Will the protestant work ethic become the new cool? I'd like to see that.

Why Can't Anyone Tell I'm Wearing This Business Suit Ironically?

Not being connected to any discernible counter culture is the new cool.

The ensuing conversation in this thread is much better than the Adbuster article.
posted by Telf at 11:43 AM on August 1, 2008


Shark vs. Bear event photography: photos of Toronto hipsters getting their party on. I was thinking of making this an FPP a million years ago, but it's not that interesting in the grand scheme of things -- save for the sweaty hipster women.
posted by chunking express at 11:58 AM on August 1, 2008


Wow, sorry for the double link. I scanned the whole thread, only to be beaten in the last few minutes. Oh well.
posted by Telf at 11:58 AM on August 1, 2008


Goodness.... I feel the need to defend myself! But, I'm not going to. I'm not convinced that most people make conscious consumer decisions, if you can give me evidence to the contrary I'll be happy to read it and re-form my opinion.

Back to the article at hand and the reason I jumped into this discussion (but, I guess on the wrong side of the sub-topic within the discussion). What bugs me the most about hipster culture are the outward trappings. I find the sameness of dress, hair style etc to actually be frightening and threatening, like the mall culture of the 80s that I was too young to truly experience, being born in 1981 (I've heard enough about it, most of my peers are 5 years older than me for some odd reason). Its for the same reason that I cannot watch zombie movies (one of us, ONE OF US!) without weeks of nightmares (weak subconcious?). Even Shawn of the Dead frightens the crap out of me.

In a way I kind of identify (KIND OF) with the party girl who gets her own line in the article where she is asked if she's one of the 99% of the hipsters at this party and she laughs and says "“Fuck no,” she says, laughing back the last of her glass before she hops off to the dance floor." Though I want to know where her laughter comes from is it insecurity? I admit I'd be scared out of my wits to even go into a party like that.

I see that I'm not the only one to pull a zombies==hipsters line (As referenced in the article). But, I do wonder if this very visceral response on my part isn't akin to my first experience with The Church of the SubGenius, some of my dorm-mates kept insisting that I was a robot and wouldn't explain why. I only found out after I had read The Book of SubGenius that everyone is a robot from a certain point of view. And its my own alienation from my peers during grade school and subsequent wall-flowerness during college that have created my own mental state...


gah... now I'm self-analyzing...

hipsters are scary.. I might be one... I do ride a fixed gear half the time, and I own a Mac, and a courier bag.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 11:59 AM on August 1, 2008


I'm confused. If I'm un-ironically uncool, but I don't give a damn, does that make me a hipster? I thought living the uncool life without making a big deal about it made you a dork, but the not-caring part seems to veer into hipsterdom. Then again, maybe not making a big deal in a sincere way gets you back to dorkhood, since hipsters make a big deal out of not making a big deal. Bleh. Too confusing.

*continues to think of self as dork while not caring what other people think*
posted by Quietgal at 12:02 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


(who appear to be, for all intents and purposes, a bugbear or shibboleth) should lose points because they choose to exercise common sense.

And, I'm not suggesting they should but, in the late 80's early 90's it became a thing amongst the Gen X'ers to find the seediest bars in Vancouver and go have a drink at them. I lived and worked (as a mental health advocate) in the DTES so I have a very good sense of the reality vs. the hype. I was just playing to the hype eg: "Be bold or move to suburbia"
posted by squeak at 12:03 PM on August 1, 2008


I haven't read every comment yet, but I don't think anyone has mentioned yet how hot "hipster" girls (and some of the boys) look. I had the hots for people like Anna Karina long before the hipster thing coalesced, and now I see girls with at least the desire to be intellectual approximating that look all the time. Smart girls that look like that is my ideal. nasreddin may well have provided a thorough deconstruction of the hipster as end of history, but he forgot to incorporate the most important thing: its the boners, stupid.
posted by Falconetti at 12:09 PM on August 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


This just in: irony is dead! All the cool kids these days are into things they actually enjoy!
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:20 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


The folks at Adbusters think that everything is the ultimate sign of the decline of Western civilization.
The worst part is, they're probably right.
posted by nicepersonality at 12:20 PM on August 1, 2008


Adbusters bashing hipsters is like Trekkies bashing furries. Good times all around.
posted by rusty at 12:20 PM on August 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


I had an existential moment a few weeks back when I saw someone that had the same tattoo I have.

That's why I've decided to stop feeling like all tattoos have to have meaning. I just finished getting one for no other reason than it's pretty. If someone asks me what it means to me, I say it means I have something pretty on my arm/back. It took me a while to get to that point though - for a long time I very much felt like I had to create artificial meaning in order to get what I wanted, instead of just recognizing that it's ok to want a pretty tattoo for none other than aesthetic reasons. I don't think there's anything wrong with meaningful tattoos, but I feel there's pressure on all of them to have meaning because of their permanent nature. Me, I don't care what it will look like when I'm 80. I'll be 80! Who cares at that point!

I feel like there's an analogy between that and the hipster complaints in the article and this thread, but I can't quite put it together. It probably does make me a hipster, though.
posted by misskaz at 12:26 PM on August 1, 2008


“Ok, so what are you girls doing tonight after this party?”

“Ummm… We’re going to the after-party.”


Would the interviewer rather that the girls go home after the party and watch TV or shop online?

I haven't read Adbusters in 5+ years, but I still can't believe it.

I'm still hoping this article is satire, because I like Adbusters (and PETA). We DO know better than you. That's the whole fucking point. WHY WON'T THE WORLD LISTEN?!
posted by mrgrimm at 12:28 PM on August 1, 2008


Nobody gives a shit about hipsters but other hipsters. Some construction worker from a small town in Nebraska doesn't care if a twenty year old DJ is wearing a trucker hat. Don't like party photographers? Don't go to parties with photographers. Jesus. And stop cribbing Gertrude Stein you big whiner.
posted by Football Bat at 12:29 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I haven't read every comment yet, but I don't think anyone has mentioned yet how hot "hipster" girls (and some of the boys) look.

And I do agree with Falconetti. Boners explain nearly everything.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:29 PM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Adbusters: very concerned that someone might be having the wrong kind of fun.
posted by Artw at 12:31 PM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


rusty wins.
posted by everichon at 12:32 PM on August 1, 2008


nasreddin: Hipster self-hatred is the return of the repressed appeal to authenticity.

Nthed. I'd go so far as to say that the dismissal of the very idea of authenticity is fairly subversive, to the point where not even the adherents (a term which gives them a higher level of commitment than I should, I know) can reconcile with that fact.

The problem that comes up here, though, is that taking away the ability to invoke authenticity as the rationale for rejecting consumerism, it becomes hard to reject consumerism. Or maybe it is closer to a surrender, an admission that consumerism, and the capitalism of which it is a component of, is inescapable. Sure, satire, irony, pastiche — hell, just to being a "bad subject", to borrow a term — affords some space for cultural production outside of consumerism, but hipsters are limited to the cultural signifiers inherited from consumerism. It's easy to see why this sentiment that would rub Adbusters the wrong way.

Of course, being nostalgic about the counterculture of old is a bit misguided. Thomas Frank has written about how hippie culture and 60s ad culture were intertwined, and there have also been a lot of writing as well about how punk's valorization of DIY went hand-in-hand with a valorization of entrepreneurism. Commodification was preordained, resistance futile.
posted by Weebot at 12:39 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


TheStraightener:
What club, on what street, in what city? I want to call bullshit on this guy so bad my dick hurts, but I can't even. Why is he intentionally obfuscating these kinds of identifying details throughout the whole article? I mean, come on: Standing outside an art-party next to a neat row of locked-up fixed-gear bikes, I come across a couple girls who exemplify hipster homogeneity.

Really? There was an entire row of exclusively fixed gear bikes outside this supposed party? There wasn't one bike that wasn't fixed gear?
No, as someone pointed out correctly, the giveaway here is not that there is a geared bike in the mix somewhere. Of course there is. Hipsters aren't homogenous, and there's always someone on a geared bike while they are in the process of "building up" their first fixed.

The real giveaway here is that the article mentions a neat row. I know plenty of these kids, and enjoy their company, and let me tell you, when we lock up our fixed gears it is never in a neat row. Shit is locked and piled everywhere, to fences, burglar bars, streetsigns, other bikes, etc.

Another error can be found in his comment about fixies being meant to be ridden without a brake. Many fixies (as opposed to track bikes) are meant to be ridden with a front brake. Thats why the manufacturers build them so a brake can be mounted (as opposed to many track bikes). Duh. These newbies arent drilling their forks on their own
posted by mano at 12:46 PM on August 1, 2008


The epitome of hipster self-loathing.
posted by sparkletone at 12:48 PM on August 1, 2008


While we're on topic, check out this hilarious fixed gear spoof on youtube.
posted by mano at 12:48 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's just that I'm getting older, or maybe it's just that I spend too much time on the internet, but I've become so very, very tired of irony and sarcasm and snark. I would welcome more sincerity in conversations, especially online discourse. You don't like X? Great--tell me so, and tell me why! But you don't have to prove to me or to anyone else how smart you are by coming up with an oh-so-clever new way to put down X. It just seems tiresome now. I see your insult--less about the thing you're criticizing, and more about how clever you are--for the pathetic attention grab it is.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:49 PM on August 1, 2008 [32 favorites]


I was wondering how he could tell they were fixed gear bikes and not just single speeds by looking at them. Maybe he has a secret hub-sense?
posted by drezdn at 12:50 PM on August 1, 2008


I haven't read every comment yet, but I don't think anyone has mentioned yet how hot "hipster" girls (and some of the boys) look. I had the hots for people like Anna Karina long before the hipster thing coalesced, and now I see girls with at least the desire to be intellectual approximating that look all the time. Smart girls that look like that is my ideal. nasreddin may well have provided a thorough deconstruction of the hipster as end of history, but he forgot to incorporate the most important thing: its the boners, stupid.

Do they look hot because hot people are tending towards hipsterism?
Do they look hot because hipster is the latest trendy fashion and therefore what you consider hot?
Do they look hot because with a fondness of the subculture you've grown to view members as more often desireable?
Do they look hot because their attire is often more sexualized than other subculture's?

I don't get what you mean by how they are intellectually approximating their look. In that their intellectualism is a hodge podge of ill formed past trends, and presented in an in-your-face smug manner?
posted by kigpig at 12:55 PM on August 1, 2008


I heard all hipsters were fat, liked steampunk, and religiously participated in Critical Masses.
posted by sleevener at 1:02 PM on August 1, 2008


Do they look hot because hot people are tending towards hipsterism?

Yes. And that's about it, as far as I can see. The "hipster" fashion itself is horrendous to me. At least in SF. Then again, I may be a hipster - I wear $1 T-shirts with logos like "Reunite" and wear vegan shoes. Luckily, no trucker hats (though hipsters ditched those in '03 I think), tight jeans, slip-on (ugh) sneakers, or scarves. I also think I'm far too old.

I do go to noise shows, though, so maybe I am. I never heard that one as a prequalifier.

I still say the article is parody. It's much better that way.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:11 PM on August 1, 2008


The main problem I have with hipsterism is that there's no love in it. I dress like a metalhead, I go to metal shows, and I run a metal website and distro, because I fucking love heavy metal music. The peripheral trappings of "being a metalhead" are the effects, not the cause -- if I were stranded on a desert island tomorrow, I'd still be just as much a metalhead, dressed in rags sitting under a palm tree and humming "Exciter" or something.

Hipsters, on the other hand, dress like hipsters, go to hipster shows, and run hipster websites, because... that's what's on the hipster A-list this week. And next week, if that's not what's on the A-list anymore, none of them will still be doing it, because none of them actually like doing it for its own sake. When you get to the bottom of the hipster scene, there's nothing there, except more scene. Thus, their scene does not encode any sort of values, apart from self-reference, a mirror which reflects a distorted image of some previous cycle of self-reference.

Nietzsche (and nasreddin) was right -- without the desire to forge new high values to replace the old, nihilism is (sub)cultural poison, an ethos that simply can't deal with its own intrinsic failure as ethos.
posted by vorfeed at 1:12 PM on August 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


To me, it all comes down to a brilliant moment in Mad Men when someone tells Don Draper, "advertising doesn't work on me." Don Draper's knowing smile is priceless.

I recommend Robert Cialdini's excellent book Influence to anyone who thinks "advertising doesn't work on me".

Please write an essay describing why you love Velveeta Cheese to win a car. Write it ironically if you wish, it will still fulfill our goals of having you reprogram yourself.
posted by benzenedream at 1:13 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Damn near spat my fuck out through my pie hole.

Wait. What?
posted by sparkletone at 1:13 PM on August 1, 2008


I like living in a small enough town that the dorks who just like good live music can go hang out without feeling like they are overdressed.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:14 PM on August 1, 2008


KokuRyu writes "I don't know what's worse: anti-Semitism in Adbusters or the ridiculous article linked to in this FPP."

I'm not sure that's a good example. The charge of anti-Semitism IMO was not legitimate, and was drawn from the same sort of knee-jerk accusation of anti-Semitism whenever anyone tries to examine the connections between Israel supporters in government and our policies regarding Israel. This was the same sort of thing Adbusters was talking about.

However, this article about hipsters is lame, most notably the attempt to find a convenient scapegoat for our problems. Sounds like the author's getting into the cranky years, where youth starts to look alien and dangerous.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:18 PM on August 1, 2008


Mass-media advertising works great on me, making me disinclined to purchase the product. Why help pay for the very ads that bother me?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:24 PM on August 1, 2008


vorfeed writes "When you get to the bottom of the hipster scene, there's nothing there, except more scene."

What do you get at the bottom of a heavy metal scene? Cigarette butts and Jack Daniel's empties?

I've seen a lot of metal shows in my day, and I never knew there was such depth that existed there that was absent from other "scenes." One thing I can say is that people are slightly less self-conscious, but there is still plenty of homophobia in many metal scenes, and the "cooler than thou" attitude certainly does crop up when comparing tattoos, motorcycles or leather (did you catch the catfight between Bruce Dickinson and Sharon Osbourne a few years ago?). It's just a party scene, like the hipster scene. There may be more love of the music in parts of the various metal scenes, but the vast majority are just there for the party, like all other music scenes. At least that's the way it was in the '80s, and that's the way it was the last time I went to Ozzfest a few years ago.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:27 PM on August 1, 2008


Do they look hot because hot people are tending towards hipsterism?

Yes. And that's about it, as far as I can see. The "hipster" fashion itself is horrendous to me.


Careful though, that would mean an innate beauty which certain features such as not having lesions all over your skin are, most are not. I think the tight clothing adds a sexualized nature, but less so than quite a few other subcultures running around right now. They are mostly middle to upperclass and generally had better opportunities, healthcare, and money for beautification so perhaps that gives them an advantage in the looks department. Their diet (ignoring excessive consumption of alcohol, cocaine, and cigarettes which takes a few years usually to catch up with you) is, and this is one of the rare positives, more often healthy than the general populace...after all they're narcissists and won't cross that ironic line where they actually become uncool or creepy in other's eyes.

Actually, thinking on that line: what happens when these people get old and ugly and still have no personality? Will it be like the aging hippie again who may once have been a hit but creeps out everyone around now?
posted by kigpig at 1:28 PM on August 1, 2008


Do they look hot because hot people are tending towards hipsterism?
Do they look hot because hipster is the latest trendy fashion and therefore what you consider hot?
Do they look hot because with a fondness of the subculture you've grown to view members as more often desireable?
Do they look hot because their attire is often more sexualized than other subculture's?
They look hot because, at least when I first started observing what I'll call the "hipster aesthetic" it meant that girls (at least) were given a green light to dress down. Shaggy or simple haircut, simple outfit, often a not-extravagant dress or tank/jeans combo did, at that time, directly answer the popular notion of Hollywood/Heiress beauty with a refreshing "meh."

Where I saw this was among a certain subset of grad-school friends I found myself dropped into. It was pleasant since it meant the ladies in question at least had the option to wear only what was necessary to leave the house - this grants the impression that any scintillating they would do would need to be verbal or cerebral. They weren't anti-hot, they were functional-hot.

So, in answer to all your questions: no. The hot came first, then the recognition of the subculture. Also, I'm not sure what you're suggesting is "more sexualized" about hipster looks.

The boys in hipster subculture, however, seem to me to be the true peacocks here. I shit you not there were no fewer than three separate boys dressed something like Johnny Depp from Benny & Joon and/or Kid Rock on the subway out of Brooklyn last weekend. The girls of the party? A sort of stylized version of that librarian-aesthetic I once found appealing - but now with leggings. The boys? Pirates of the fucking Carribean as channeled by Alex and his droogs.

So, still, I relish the fashion aspects this 'hipster' thing has granted. Sure, there's skin. Sure, there's plumage. But there are quite a number of folks who just put on their simple dress and tie back their hair and call it an outfit - maybe yes they had to specifically pick out the adorable Librarian-glasses but that's as nothing compared to the dyed-exfoliated-waxed-and-fen-fenned look to which it seems to be a direct reaction.
posted by abulafa at 1:33 PM on August 1, 2008


Also, obligatory Greggery Peccary reference:

Greggery Peccary takes the elevator up to the 83rd floor of a
grim, grey, evil-looking building with a sign on the front
reading "BIG SWIFTY AND ASSOCIATES...TREND MONGERS".
And what might you ask is a TREND MONGER?
Well a TREND MONGER is a person, who dreams up a trend, like
"THE TWIST", or "FLOWER POWER".
And spreads it throughout the land using all the frightening
little skills that scientists made available.
And so it was one fateful morning Greggery Peccary made his
way through the steno pool.

Greggery Peccary: Hi Mildred, Hello Gladys. Wanda!

Zappa: Yes, from the moment they laid eyes on him all the girls in
the Big Swifty steno pool knew here is a nocturnal gregarious wild
swine on his way up. A Peccary of destiny adventure and
romance.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:33 PM on August 1, 2008


photos of Toronto hipsters getting their party on.

Actually, there are enough of these types sites (this seems to be the main one for Chicago) that I think an interesting FPP could be put together. Especially if you could find some background material/articles on the rise/motivation/appeal of these sites, both for the ones being photographed and for the random passers by.

And be sure to include a link to Blue States Lose.
posted by sparkletone at 1:40 PM on August 1, 2008


twistedonion: in the current climate I don't think any subculture is going to create real estate gold mines! What with all that credit crunching going on (anyone else think credit crunch sounds like a new breakfast cereal?)

I guess it's like that in the States but hipster gentrification is actually gathering steam in Toronto, for one.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:48 PM on August 1, 2008


In 1993 Portland felt like the epicenter of the current iteration of hipsterism.

I have nothing else to add, just wanted to mention that I was there watching it happen. Because I am empty and shallow, and own a minivan.
posted by mecran01 at 1:48 PM on August 1, 2008


Also, I'm not sure what you're suggesting is "more sexualized" about hipster looks.

question not suggestion. I don't think it is, but the city I live in doesn't even do hipster right so I wasn't sure. I do hear that sharing STDs is popular amongst them so I figured maybe it was different elsewhere.

They look hot because, at least when I first started observing what I'll call the "hipster aesthetic" it meant that girls (at least) were given a green light to dress down. Shaggy or simple haircut, simple outfit, often a not-extravagant dress or tank/jeans combo did, at that time, directly answer the popular notion of Hollywood/Heiress beauty with a refreshing "meh."

If they're ripping off past styles, then this green light to dress down has been present in a number of past subcultures. Granted you didn't say you didn't find those subcultures hot as well. At any rate it sounds like the grad school time period you're describing is 90s which I usually associate with gen-x. Dressing down in a genuine sense of wearing simple comfortable clothes does not seem part of hipster culture described. Having pants that cut off the circulation in your legs is not my view of dressing down.
posted by kigpig at 1:53 PM on August 1, 2008


ok, lets try this one on:

hipsters are remixing culture similar to how hip hop remixes music.
posted by mano at 2:03 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't get what you mean by how they are intellectually approximating their look.

At least in my idiosyncratic take, and as I mentioned above, I know multiple good looking hipster women that remind me of Anna Karina and that can hold an intelligent conversation on multiple topics. That is the primary appeal of that scene for me. I don't know what "intellectually approximating" means either and I don't think I was saying that.
posted by Falconetti at 2:05 PM on August 1, 2008


I‘m sipping a scummy pint of cloudy beer in the back of a trendy dive bar turned nightclub in the heart of the city’s heroin district.
What club, on what street, in what city?


the author prolly can't say, cause he goes there often and doesnt want to get called out.
posted by mano at 2:06 PM on August 1, 2008


Hipsters, on the other hand, dress like hipsters, go to hipster shows, and run hipster websites, because... that's what's on the hipster A-list this week. And next week, if that's not what's on the A-list anymore, none of them will still be doing it, because none of them actually like doing it for its own sake. When you get to the bottom of the hipster scene, there's nothing there, except more scene. Thus, their scene does not encode any sort of values, apart from self-reference, a mirror which reflects a distorted image of some previous cycle of self-reference.

+1
posted by vanadium at 2:08 PM on August 1, 2008


I think it all comes down to this: It would be quite nice to be in ones twenties again.
posted by Artw at 2:11 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I haven't read every comment yet, but I don't think anyone has mentioned yet how hot "hipster" girls (and some of the boys) look. I had the hots for people like Anna Karina long before the hipster thing coalesced, and now I see girls with at least the desire to be intellectual approximating that look all the time. Smart girls that look like that is my ideal. nasreddin may well have provided a thorough deconstruction of the hipster as end of history, but he forgot to incorporate the most important thing: its the boners, stupid.

IMHO, something key about the whole "hipster" thing is that, unlike some other youth cultures, it's associated with college, technology, and a variety of left-leaning intellectualism. It's not for people who peaked in high school, and it's certainly not for the stereotypical jocks and cheerleaders who are seen as being the alphas in that environment. As a result, much of the look centers around late-bloomers and confident geekiness. Hence not only the affection for glasses, but thick-frame glasses and non-prescription glasses, as well as the sexy librarian look for girls and the skinny, effeminate look for guys. The layers of irony and focus on obscure music and movies also factor into this - hipsterism, if there is such a thing, is an expression the nerd gone cool.

It's also interesting to me that "hipster," being a pejorative, is a word which focuses nearly as much on the speaker as the subject. A hipster is anyone who focuses more on being hip than on being productive or real, in the eyes of the speaker. This is a relative, subjective judgment, and given how many ways there are to be productive or real and how many ways there are to appear hip, you could have dozens of people each accusing the other of being a hipster, and they would all seem like perfectly plausible accusations. A PR rep who enjoys dancing at Misshapes could call a parent-subsidized film grad who lives in the McKibbin Lofts a hipster, and that person could in turn call a jock-y guy in a Western shirt who picks up chicks at a secret, hip bar a hipster, and that guy could call a lawyer who rides to noise concerts on his fixed-gear bike a hipster, and so on. You could just as easily go right back up the chain. There certainly is a tension in the hipster "community" between being hip and being authentic.

The fact of the matter, to the side of this discussion, is that I don't feel that, as pointed out above, hipsters in skinny jeans are that far removed from hippies in bell-bottoms. For better and for worse, hipsters simply comprise the phenomena of college-age kids doing what college-age kids do, which is sometimes interesting and cool and fun and sometimes retarded and vain. There are very few people who act and dress completely outside of what is fashionable, and it's difficult to tell what's so goddamned bad about being fashionable in some respects - and avoiding what is fashionable for fear of appearing like a hipster is quite nearly the hipsteriest thing you can do without actually being Vincent Gallo. H. P. Lovecraft was "in", so I took that opportunity to read more of his stuff. Blacks plastic-frame glasses and Western shirts look good on me, so I wear them. Skinny jeans look horrible on me and I think keffiyehs look stupid, so I don't wear them. I don't care about ukuleles, so I continue to not care about them. I don't care about the Misshapes scene, so I don't go there. I don't like Crystal Castles, so I don't listen to them. I do like Cloud Cult, so I do listen to them. I have a permanent five-o'clock shadow, because I use an electric razor and leaving the hair on my face makes me look marginally less elfin. PBR tends to be cheap at bars, so I drink it when it's cheap, because I am cheap and PBR is fine. And on and on and on.

And so. This article. For one thing, it's in AdBusters, which is hilarious. For another, there is something true about the fact that hipsters are a dead end, because hipsterism, as defined by most people, is simply the pursuit of hipness to no other end, and that is indeed a dead end. Unfortunately, the things from which hipsterism springs are a fundamental part of being young, so there isn't really much to be done, except maybe to wonder if the 24-year-old mustachioed-guy in the Design By Humans shirt nursing his Schlitz might not, in ten years, grow up and be as productive as a 34-year-old can be. And he might even still listen to Animal Collective as he does so. BFD.

Another idle thought: what if we're looking at this all backwards. Hipsters may be those among us who think of nothing except fashion, parties, and hip music...but wasn't it only recently that this was scene is something less than desirable among a good swath of youth? Didn't it used to be seen as a GOOD thing among college-age kids to have fun, look good, and get laid? Maybe what's unusual about this generation isn't that the hipsters are shallow, but that there is an insecurity about how shallow they are - they're fashionable, except when what is fashionable is seen as too fashionable, so they move on, and so on. The hipsters, being generally well-educated, feel on the one hand that it is silly to focus so much on being cool, but on the other hand, they want to be like their peers and party hard. This isn't to say that hipsters or young people as a whole are that much deeper than before, if at all, but it is peculiar that this seems to be a vocalized concern where it wasn't before. I know it's a cliche by now, but I really do feel that the Internet, 9/11, and the unprecedented incompetence of the Bush administration has had quite an effect on youth culture in ways that aren't being directly elucidated.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:14 PM on August 1, 2008 [21 favorites]


This is exactly the reason I stay out of Cambridge mass! This article was very well written and well-described as being someone who isn't in that scene but observing. I think, even better than the article are the comments by all the "hipsters" bashing this article. They feel they have been infiltrated.!( or brought into the light?)
posted by femmme at 2:17 PM on August 1, 2008


Fucked a sentence, sorry.

but wasn't it only recently that this was scene is something less than desirable among a good swath of youth?

but wasn't it only recently that this was seen as something desirable among a good swath of youth?
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:19 PM on August 1, 2008


I have a co-worker named Phil who, to me, exemplifies LA Hipster. He doesn't have an apartment; he lives on the beach in his Prius. He owns a membership to the LACMA, but wasn't able to get the card because he didn't have an address to have it sent to. He has a shaggy beardlet, wears skinny jeans and drinks canned beer. He's a vegetarian, living on burritos from Cactus and green shakes that his personal nutritionist provides for him. He manages an up-and-coming band, and works at a magazine that covers the hippest of the hip. He believes in astrology and asked me to "groove on over to my desk" yesterday. He goes to Vice shows and designer sunglass sample sales. He got me into a secret party at Shepard Fairey's print shop.

He made the front page of the NY Times yesterday, and the LA Times a week ago, in part because he helped convert a tour bus to biodiesel.

He's also one of the nicest dudes I've ever met, with a dense knowledge of underground rock and a real love of everything he's doing. He's a hipster, his friends are hipsters, he's concerned about Pitchfork reviews and Dusted Magazine.

But we talk about art and fashion and music, and he's enthusiastic and charming.

There are two things that I'd add to Nasreddin's fine post above: that "hipsters," as befits their pomo origins, aren't a monolithic bloc; and that I do think there's a fair chunk of them that fall down into a well of consumeristic nihilism.

And those two points aren't mutually exclusive—there are plenty of hipsters that aren't even necessarily involved in consistent identities, especially younger ones. You can go out and party all night at a Kill Whitey and still work at a non-profit doing development work during the day. You can have a job fixing bikes and still buy copies of Wallpaper.

I have noticed, and my mother brought this up after talking to her photo students, that there's less a concern about overarching meaning, and more a hedonistic edge, but even lumping all those kids together is like trying to pretend that early '80s punk and disco and rap were all about the same things and had the same culture, even as the scenes cross-bred.
posted by klangklangston at 2:25 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


...could call a lawyer who rides to noise concerts on his fixed-gear bike a hipster...

Hipster is not the word I would use in this instance.
posted by fixedgear at 2:30 PM on August 1, 2008


I recommend Robert Cialdini's excellent book Influence to anyone who thinks "advertising doesn't work on me".

Reading over that link, it seems to have only partially to do with advertising and more to do with psychological manipulation.

For instance:
"For example, there is a price-as-an-indicator-of-quality heurstic which means, if we're not thinking carefully about a purchase decision, we might just use the assumption that “better things are more expensive”, so if we want a 'better' thing we will just look at the prices to work out which product is better."

is not an unreasonable metric. We can't possibly examine every single purchasing decision we make let alone every aspect of the product. If it's a low cost food item, and perhaps we're in the mood to try something new, then maybe we get the more expensive one. Funny thing is, this is a GOOD metric most of the time. Sometimes it can be related to shipping costs, business size of the maker of the product, but the implication here is of an active deception (fraud?) on the part of the seller. But really, even the man doesn't have the resources to fuck you ALL the time.

Much of our commentary on advertising is being made by people who are in the business of advertising their product. People trying to sell magazines or other publications, people making an artistic statement, people posting in blogs funded by ads. This is largely inevitable, but it gives an exaggerated appearance. While I can't deny I could see a deal on food on TV and find myself subconsciously pushed to hunger, I can still refrain from the greater impact of advertising by rarely buying things I don't need. Even with the food example, most of the time I'll make my own food from a fairly standard routine around the supermarket so even if the advertising is effecting me I'm generally not caving.

Further there is a demographic that is largely unaffected by advertising. They are what were loosely depicted as nerds by crappy movies/TV around the 80s. Completely unable to understand the fashions of others even when they wanted to fit in, they clearly were getting the advertisements mixed at the very least. More likely though, they just weren't getting an impulse to purchase and lacked the obsession with beauty. Unfortunately a few things occurred. Firstly it was male dominated though it should be noted that these gawky misfits were not the cause of the problems women faced. However, feminism in approximately the early 90s began to co-opt the nerd image as a fashion, rightly trying to show that women could be just as smart but stupidly presuming it was a good idea to hijack a benign subculture whose interests most of them did not share. So like any style, though I feel the nerd group remained genuine much longer, it was infiltrated by people who were trying to be smart as a fashion statement and those who genuinely valued knowledge and creation over beauty were marginalized as best I can see. This eventually turned into what we now refer to as the geek, an obsessed tech consumer with little interest in anything but the new gadget (yeah fuck you apple).
posted by kigpig at 2:37 PM on August 1, 2008


...could call a lawyer who rides to noise concerts on his fixed-gear bike a hipster...

Hipster is not the word I would use in this instance.


What word would you use? I'm a lawyer who goes to noise shows, wanna fight about it?
posted by naju at 2:58 PM on August 1, 2008


THIS IS IRONIC.










































So is this.
posted by tkchrist at 3:01 PM on August 1, 2008


Is there a future for the counterculture as a social formation? I don't think so. The hipsters mark the point where rebels stop selling out and start buying in.

nasreddin--I enjoyed your extended commentary on how, for you, hipsterdom is to the history of counterculture as postmodernism is to the history of Western philosophical consciousness, but I wanted to suggest a few possible problems in this line of thinking.

The main problem arises in that we tend, when analyzing historical phenomena, to view the past's relation to the present in two distinctly opposed ways (although each is fatalistic and filled with grandeur), and this thread reflects that. The first is the nothing-new-under-the-sun view (i.e., "hipsters and condescension towards them are as old as humanity and more about youth vs. adulthood"), and the second is the human-culture-evolves-dialectically view (i.e., "hipsters are the latest incarnation of a familiar trope, but with a new twist: they have pushed that trope, unconsciously, into another level--such as the level of self-parody, meta-irony, etc").

In the former view the more things change the more they stay the same, and in the latter view there exists an implicit teleology towards which human history is aiming (whether this is negative [an inescapable downfall], positive [an impending liberation], or cyclical [just a spin of the wheel], does not matter).

Both these views, it seems to me, are simplistic, but both are also necessary in some proto-conceptual way. [As an aside, a very good book related to this is Frank E. Manuel's "Shapes of Philosophical History" (1965, Stanford University Press): much better, for me, than Hayden White's "Metahistory" on the subject of the post-Hegelian historical imagination, and as good as Ricoeur, Habermas, etc. on the themes we impress upon historical memory.]

What I am driving at here is that as soon as we press too hard upon either the "this is nothing new" view or the "this represents a culmination" view, we give up something more complicated and true to what might be called reality: that there is no implicit stasis or implicit teleology in these phenomena at all, but rather we have thrust these interpretations (these hermeneutical agendas) upon the world. Now of course such a view itself can be read as postmodern, if one concludes that there are only interpretations. But what I am suggesting is that a third way may be possible here: besides a view that sees essential stasis where human affairs are concerned, or a view that sees essential culmination (whether progressive or declining), there is view (very difficult to articulate) that sees a constant give-and-take.

Hipsters are neither the great culmination of an arc that begins in Romanticism and ends in postmodernism, nor are they merely the umpteenth version of an eternal generational claim to significance, but rather are a slice of a particular time and a particular place--no more and no less.
posted by ornate insect at 3:14 PM on August 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


Hipster is a way of being cool, that's all.

And like all ways of being cool, it is exclusive. You have know / do / look / be some way that most people cannot.

The base of the hatred of hipsters is simply distaste for exclusion, just like any other team / club / sorority one couldn't join. Even if one honestly don't want to join, the exclusion still hurts.

What makes it worse is that hipsterdom makes claims to intellectual, artistic or political consequence that the Delta Gamma's didn't make to the girls they wouldn't pledge or the football team didn't make to the guys who got cut during hell week. That's infuriating to those left out of the hipster club and intensely annoying to those who have no desire to join the club.

What makes it much worse is that hipsterdom is comprised (or appears to be comprised*) of people who were excluded from prior iterations of cool, and seems structured as a conversion of geekiness into coolness. For the rejects: how much more bitter to be denied the second shot at cool -- a coolness which doesn't require that one abandon one's true geekiness -- while others are at once redeemed / fulfilled?

*in my experience, a suspiciously-high percentage of alpha hipsters were always cool -- they look great in their high school year book pictures, there's an authentic and unironic three-sport high school letter jacket hanging in their mom's closet, when you're flipping thorugh the magazine pile they didn't artfully scatter you stumble upon that Delta Gamma alumnae magazine with their name boldy printed in the addressee block, etc...
posted by MattD at 3:15 PM on August 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


What do you get at the bottom of a heavy metal scene? Cigarette butts and Jack Daniel's empties?

No, you get heavy metal music. Without that, it may be a scene, but it's not a metal scene. In contrast, there is no one thing that you can take from hipsterism and no longer have hipsterism, other than hipsterism! The entire edifice is built upon itself, nothing but turtles all the way down.

I've seen a lot of metal shows in my day, and I never knew there was such depth that existed there that was absent from other "scenes."

I'm not claiming that there is. I meant it as a personal example, not "omg my scene is so special and yours isn't". IMHO, pretty much all music-based subcultures are more-or-less equivalent in this regard. Reggae, rap, punk, bluegrass, line-dance, what-have-you; these subcultures are primarily about music, and about exploring the ideals and symbolism that the music embodies. Likewise, you're in with the hikers because you like to hike, you're in with the bikers because you like to ride, you're in with the coffee house nerds because you like coffee. If you try to join any of these scenes without actually liking What It's About, you're in for a pretty miserable time, because What It's About necessarily pervades the entire subculture. This is why people who start out this way usually end up genuinely liking What It's About, assuming they don't drop out and find another scene that suits them better.

Hipsters, on the other hand, have no core meaning, no unchanging ideals or symbols. In fact, their entire aesthetic is built around a rejection of meaning, ideals, and static symbols. There is no What It's About for hipsters, other than "hipster" itself. Mentioning that you un-ironically "like" (or, even worse, "love") anything is a huge no-no with most of these people. Try it sometime and see the reaction you get: it's like they're living in the Warren of Shining Wires or something.

It's just a party scene, like the hipster scene. There may be more love of the music in parts of the various metal scenes, but the vast majority are just there for the party, like all other music scenes. At least that's the way it was in the '80s, and that's the way it was the last time I went to Ozzfest a few years ago.

I don't buy this, and here's the reason: why are the people who are "just there for the party" there at this particular party, rather than some other party? If "all other music scenes" are just about partying and not about the music, then why is there more than one music scene? Why do we have music scenes at all? I mean, yes, obviously, throwing a BLANK party is partly about partying, and naturally this attracts people who like partying, but it's also about enjoying BLANK, whatever it may be. There's a reason why you see metalheads at metal shows, hippies at jam band shows, and hip-hop heads at hip-hop shows, but you generally don't see other combinations of these.

I'm not asking for a great deal of depth, or expecting an appreciation of Music As Art; I agree with you that this is pretty rare, no matter what scene you're talking about. Yes, there's plenty of role-playing and other self-conscious posing in every scene, and no, not everyone has a deep relationship with their chosen subculture, but they generally do authentically like the music. That's all I'm asking for. Sure, you'll find a lot of people who are "just there for the party", but those people are usually still listening to the same kind of music when the party's not happening, so it's clearly not just about the party. If it were, they'd be at a mainstream party, not a metal show.

I've known plenty of people who were essentially posers in one scene or another, but even they weren't going around to shows with music they hated, just to drink JD and smoke cigarettes with people they hated. They were trying to like something, not trying not to like it -- the latter is what makes hipsters different from other scenes. The problem is not a lack of depth; it's a total lack of anything to be deep about.
posted by vorfeed at 3:16 PM on August 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Reading over that link, it seems to have only partially to do with advertising and more to do with psychological manipulation.

Um, what do you think advertising is -- a bunch of well-meant, helpful suggestions?
posted by spiderwire at 3:20 PM on August 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


...could call a lawyer who rides to noise concerts on his fixed-gear bike a hipster...

Hipster is not the word I would use in this instance.

What word would you use? I'm a lawyer who goes to noise shows, wanna fight about it?


Only if you ride your fixie there.

P.S., I don't fight fair, I'll stick my pump in your spokes
posted by fixedgear at 3:32 PM on August 1, 2008


I wanted to right something, but my brain isn't working that well today.

Sticherbeast gets it.

The kids are annoying / kids are alright

HipsterRunoff is like the Perez Hilton of hipsterdom

I mean that in a good way, but it's kind of apropriate that it can be read with a huge negative connotation. The site celebrates of the moment hip/fad/alt culture by tearing it apart from within.
posted by elr at 3:34 PM on August 1, 2008


...its precepts are unapologetically self-referential and judged relative to other members of the scene.

Hipsterism seems to represent prior blips on the cultural radar by playing them through a rusty 16mm film projector, setting the whole goddamned thing on fire and throwing it off a cliff with absolutely no context for why it was done in the first place other than it seemed like something nobody else was doing and looked cool to the other hipsters at the time.

Relevant.
posted by vanadium at 3:38 PM on August 1, 2008


Further evidence.
posted by vanadium at 3:40 PM on August 1, 2008


Reggae, rap, punk, bluegrass, line-dance, what-have-you; these subcultures are primarily about music, and about exploring the ideals and symbolism that the music embodies.

Hipsters, on the other hand, have no core meaning, no unchanging ideals or symbols.


Really? I thought hipsters liked indie rock. Did I miss something?
posted by designbot at 3:43 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


...could call a lawyer who rides to noise concerts on his fixed-gear bike a hipster...

Poseur is what you're reaching for there. Except that circumscribing what people "should" like according to their job, or what they wear, is stupid and shallowminded, and gotten away with in circles that think themselves above that kind of thing.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:02 PM on August 1, 2008


Just thought I'd point out it's important to recognize that there are two separate (but incredibly similar, and constantly interacting) groups of youngsters these days: hipsters and bohemians. The difference is really in level of ambition. If you're a hipster, your actions are a pose, your fashions are artifice, you're going to end up with a house and two kids eventually: you're just a neo-yuppy. If you're a bohemian, you have no specific ambitions. You're happy to live outside normative society; you associate with other bohemians because you share similar values; you are and will continue to be "poor", through a combination of circumstance and choice. While I think it's fair to dislike hipsters (inasmuch as it's ok to dislike any group of people) because the whole thing is vanity-driven, I also believe it's critical to recognize that within that group there are legitimate members of a counter-culture that is and will be a legitimate movement worthy of respect. Just because those two groups of people dress alike doesn't mean they have the same values.

I also don't totally buy into the idea that hipsters these days are destroyed by their own inauthenticity. Anybody saying that is actually thinking of Gen-Xers. People my age (i.e. in their 20s) have a much more complicated relationship with irony than the Reality Bites folks. Somebody mentioned Bruce Springsteen as an example of hipster irony, but frankly everybody I know who likes the Boss has a way more authentic relationship with him than that. Not to mention the fact that Bruce Springsteen himself was never actually blue collar to begin with, not to mention the thousands of dollars you might have to spend to see him at MSG. People in their 20s are legitimately moved by most of his music because it purports to be overly earnest. That's not a bad thing any more.

Maybe a better icon of our generation is Andrew WK. That guy is pure earnestness. If you take him as some ironic joke about party culture, you've totally missed the point. He's dedicated himself to destroy the artifice deeply embedded in our culture, and there's a reason he caught on with hipsters. It's not because they all went to his shows and sat around drinking beers with their arms crossed and winking about what a hard rock nut this guy was. It was because they wanted to feel something real, to dance, to laugh. It took somebody like AWK to be completely over the top to break through to the other side, and that's really the defining characteristic of people our age. Did many of the stereotypical accoutrement of the hipster start out as an ironic wink at ugly fashion? Sure, but at some point they just started to look good to us. It's a subtle difference, but we just aren't the overtly wry and sarcastic generation that came before us. I think we've taken sarcasm so far that it's become authentic again.

("Are you being sarcastic, dude?" "I don't even know any more")
posted by one_bean at 4:04 PM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


not_on_display: If you enjoy making fun of hipsters, you are a hipster.

Oh. So, hipsters are, like, gay?
posted by Pronoiac at 4:13 PM on August 1, 2008


Hey, let's have a thread where we make sweeping generalizations about young people! What better way is there to show how old and out of touch we are?
posted by mullingitover at 4:20 PM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


They should get a proper haircut.
posted by Artw at 4:22 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hipsters are just the phonies we don't like as apposed to the phonies we do like. I'd write more but I've got to go buy a pair of welding glasses. Thanks for the link, vanadium.
posted by Hugonaut at 4:22 PM on August 1, 2008


I do remember a lot of this stuff being said about grunge and Gen-X. Maybe because I don't have children or because I just finished paying off my student loans, I don't see much problem with hipsters..... I do quite clearly, remember a day in my late 20's when I said that if someone ever calls me a slacker again they are getting a punch in the mouth. Most hipsters will reach that point, and virtually nobody will care about this shit in a few years in spite of how authentic it feels/looks.

Virtually every slacker I know became a doting parent... the mainstream life sucks most of us in.
posted by Deep Dish at 4:31 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


People in their 20s are legitimately moved by most of his music because it purports to be overly earnest. That's not a bad thing any more.

Perhaps Wes Anderson films are a reflection of that culture, as well. Thanks for the insightful comment, one_bean.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:47 PM on August 1, 2008


Really? I thought hipsters liked indie rock. Did I miss something?

It's not as simple as "liking indie rock". Hipster musical taste is also affected by the endless cycle of constant taste-altering and ironic distance; because the same bands that were cool and underground last week may be verboten this week, I think it's a bit much to claim that serious hipsters really "like" any of this stuff. They aren't into music, they're into being seen as into music. This is reflected in their disaffected stance: why bother to show open, non-ironic enthusiasm for anything, since it will inevitably turn out to be "uncool" sooner or later?

on preview: if earnestness is really "not a bad thing any more", that's wonderful news... though I still dislike the extra level of meta-irony and detachment that seems to come along with it. "Taking sarcasm so far that it's become authentic again" is still sarcasm.
posted by vorfeed at 4:55 PM on August 1, 2008


They are, like, too cool for school.
posted by Artw at 4:59 PM on August 1, 2008


The most honest anti-consumerist movement would consist of nudists with shaved heads who do not exercise, have plastic surgery, display tattoos and piercings, or bore you at length about their cosmetics regimes.

I'm sure that back in the Stone Age, the wearers of fur and skins bitched about those new-falutin people wearing woven cloth.
posted by bad grammar at 5:52 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


...could call a lawyer who rides to noise concerts on his fixed-gear bike a hipster...

Poseur is what you're reaching for there. Except that circumscribing what people "should" like according to their job, or what they wear, is stupid and shallowminded, and gotten away with in circles that think themselves above that kind of thing.


Maybe I'm obtuse, but I feel that the only way said lawyer would be a poseur would be if they didn't actually enjoy noise concerts. However, someone who didn't know that person, and most importantly didn't like the look of that person, just might see someone whizzing past on a fixie on their way to a Merzbow show and determine that they were a hipster because of those aspects of their person, whereas if you liked this person and knew the ways in which they do not fit that stereotype, you wouldn't call them a hipster, or if you did, it would be with either affectionate teasing or not to their face. I intentionally referred to this hypothetical person as a lawyer BECAUSE being a lawyer is irrelevant - many people seeing a sideburned guy in a plaid button-up getting off of a fixed-gear bike in front of the Knit on the day of the noise show might casually think of that person as a certain type, without also knowing that that person holds a J. D. from Cardozo and does doc review 12 hours a day. Going the opposite direction, you could talk about your cousin Bill the lawyer who works at the midtown firm, and some people will picture a Brylcreemed guy in a Brooks Brothers suit, carrying an attache case and a Blackberry. That may even be something resembling the case during the working day. You don't have to be some bizarre, unique, wholly self-created sui generis creature birthed fully-formed from the skull of Zeus to defy stereotypes. Most people just mix and match.

There are so many ways in which you can be judged by people who don't really know you except for seeing you in one moment or one manner.

Hipsters are neither the great culmination of an arc that begins in Romanticism and ends in postmodernism, nor are they merely the umpteenth version of an eternal generational claim to significance, but rather are a slice of a particular time and a particular place--no more and no less.

Yup!

Also, to me, hipsters seem distinctly descended from Gen X slackers. Ironic, retro, and seen as lazy. I feel like you could have taken representative pictures yearly, blending between 1994 Seattle to 2008 Bushwick, and it would appear as a fairly smooth gradation, fashion-wise. And just as Gen X did not turn out to be a failed generation of lazy losers ironically watching BMX Bikers on repeat, we'll find that much of these supposed hipsters will grow up and become something else and then the younger generation will delight and annoy us in altogether new ways.

Humanity plods forward, and at this moment, it just so happens that far too much of humanity wears shutter glasses.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:54 PM on August 1, 2008


The most honest anti-consumerist movement would consist of nudists with shaved heads who do not exercise

How is exercising fundamentally consumerist?

I exercise at home. Supplies include my floor, gravity, and air.

Somtimes a sledgehammer when I'm feeling silly
posted by flaterik at 5:59 PM on August 1, 2008


I exercise at home. Supplies include my floor, gravity, and air.

Hey, be honest!

...I bet you also drink a lot of water.
posted by vorfeed at 6:05 PM on August 1, 2008


I exercise at home. Supplies include my floor, gravity, and air.

Hey, be honest!

...I bet you also drink a lot of water.


yah, but he hates it.
posted by quonsar at 7:32 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Adbusters article was ridiculous but the last link to the article on PBR is well researched and thought out. I thought it was superb.
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 7:33 PM on August 1, 2008


...I bet you also drink a lot of water.

I import mine fair trade from *Mars.*
posted by kid ichorous at 7:38 PM on August 1, 2008


they attend art parties, take lo-fi pictures with analog cameras, ride their bikes to night clubs

The horror ... the horror.
posted by Tlogmer at 8:29 PM on August 1, 2008


Pronoiac: "not_on_display: If you enjoy making fun of hipsters, you are a hipster."
Oh. So, hipsters are, like, gay?

Or [fill in any nationality, ethnicity, social-type that makes fun of themselves]'s, yes.
also: OMG UR R ALL HIPSTERS!!!1
posted by not_on_display at 8:41 PM on August 1, 2008


Granted, the defining characteristics can cover a variety wide enough to cover any 17-25 y/o but why just use superficialities? PBR drinkers are hardly a defining characteristic. It is a definite requirement for the poseur but even a self-respecting punk wouldn't wear Docs once they became the norm. Do people drink it for the label or the fact that it is easily and cheaply available at dives. Motivation can provide a clear distinction between an archetype and the actor.
posted by JJ86 at 8:43 PM on August 1, 2008


Western industrial society has lost its lease on the very planet, and nature has no plans to rent us another after the vandalism we've done to this one.

Hipsterism is merely what happens as everyone attempts to carry around their futile, almost involuntary purchases during the vast Saturday yard sale we are all simultaneously holding before we have to vacate the premises on Monday.
posted by jamjam at 8:47 PM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


All I know (and l'all know me) is that reading metafilter is the hippest thing to do







...right now.
posted by fuq at 9:01 PM on August 1, 2008


I dunno. The scene he describes sounds like a replay of the whole Studio 54 scene, except this time around everyone's depressed because they know they're not doing it for the first time.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:08 PM on August 1, 2008


This hipster vs non-hipster dialectic is really quite imaginary and frivolous.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:00 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ad Busters is running out of things to write about + they need to get over themselves (A-B, that is, most hipsters will eventually assimilate)
posted by Lukenlogs at 10:56 PM on August 1, 2008


The best thing I can say about hipsters, whoever they are, is that they apparently caused PBR to show up in the local liquor store in returnable bar bottles. This was (so the liquor store owner told me) how "all the college kids" were drinking it. (Only without returning the bottles, to his consternation.)

I found this a little strange, because when served from a bottle, PBR is actually a reasonably decent cheap beer. The taste is pretty different from canned PBR, plus it's harder to find and costs more. It's a really strange choice to make if your intent is basically to go slumming via your party-beer selection. I'm not complaining — I loves me some PBR from bottles or on tap — but I just wonder how the hell they managed to pick something that specific and seemingly arbitrary to latch onto as 'cool.'

Apparently they've moved on to something else now, because I haven't seen the bar-bottled PBRs in a few months. Too bad.

I did get a certain kick out of drinking, totally un-ironically, beer that had been ordered by/for hipster kids, presumably to drink ironically in order to make fun of people (apparently like me) who drink it un-ironically. I'd like to say the beer tasted tainted somehow, with all the irony, but it didn't. It just tasted like PBR.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:35 PM on August 1, 2008


Ad Busters is running out of things to write about + they need to get over themselves (A-B, that is, most hipsters will eventually assimilate)

That might be true, except when it came to the evolution of the hipster via the urban creative classes in the late 1990s and early years of this decade, it ran smack dab through the anti-corporate pages of Adbusters like a bull running through a China shop.

What it became from 2002 onward, however, is something entirely different. It went from being a relatively benign movement against normal conventions regarding aesthetics and anti-corporatism and evolved into a subculture whose motto proclaimed itself superior as tastemakers, ironically becoming a culture as dependent on consumerism as the very people they sought to direct derision toward only a couple of years before.

The assimilation already happened in economic terms; it's just that the hipsters have proclaimed themselves as somehow superior to the status quo without any qualification to declare themselves as such.
posted by vanadium at 12:32 AM on August 2, 2008


This obsession with “street-cred” reaches its apex of absurdity as hipsters have recently and wholeheartedly adopted the fixed-gear bike as the only acceptable form of transportation – only to have brakes installed on a piece of machinery that is defined by its lack thereof.

I thought it was defined by its, you know, fixed gear.
posted by knave at 12:51 AM on August 2, 2008


Anyone who wastes time contemplating this silly question (am I a hipster) definitely isn't hip.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:57 AM on August 2, 2008


Hipsters are so last year. All the cool kids have already moved on to become Beatniks.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:11 AM on August 2, 2008


Jeez, this thread.

They say that the only people who complain about hipsters are hipsters themselves, but after reading this thread, I dunno. It reads like railing against hipsters is the defining characteristic of geekiness to me. It's all here - inappropriate anger, imputing attitude into objects, a desperate cloying sense of wanting to belong. All done with absolutely no sense of humour whatsoever.
posted by dydecker at 2:22 AM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm a hipster. And I've been a hipster way longer than Naju has been a hipster.
posted by tehloki at 2:30 AM on August 2, 2008


The punks ditched society's rules, exposing its shallowness by bringing forth an animalistic brutality; "evolution is a process too slow to save my soul," sang Darby Crash.

This is one of the most stupid things I've ever read on Metafilter, and 101 people favourited it.
posted by dydecker at 2:30 AM on August 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


green day are fucking awful - bands actually started copying them, can you believe that ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:13 AM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Fake glasses? People buy and wear fake glasses?
posted by pracowity at 3:17 AM on August 2, 2008


christhelongtimelurker cited this link as good and it is good. But there is a key line in it that should be noted:
Ryan Kelley, a mild-mannered guy who actually arranged the first P.B.R. sponsorship, allowed that the beer's newfound popularity was slightly annoying. ''But basically,'' he said, ''we're going to drink whatever beer costs a dollar.''
Got that? Cool hipsters are savvy consumers. who have probably never spent mega$ to buy slick copies of adbusters
posted by CCBC at 3:49 AM on August 2, 2008


Jesus wept.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:40 AM on August 2, 2008


This is one of the most stupid things I've ever read on Metafilter, and 101 people favourited it.

For what it's worth, I cringed after rereading that line. There wasn't anything I could say about punk that would sound that much less stupid, though. I used to go to punk shows pretty regularly, and I still can't talk about it intelligently, for whatever reason.
posted by nasreddin at 8:35 AM on August 2, 2008


In Rhode Island, Narragansett is the new PBR.
posted by lunit at 8:36 AM on August 2, 2008


When I was in high school people drank PBR as an homage to Blue Velvet.

Were we proto hipsters? We definitely wore ironic t-shirts. But back then they called us punks.

posted by small_ruminant at 9:13 AM on August 2, 2008


Which I now see was addressed in the last paragraph in the OP's last link. Sorry.

That article makes it sound like Blue Velvet wasn't a primary consideration in choosing PBR, but in our circle it definitely was, and there was always at least one "Fuck Heineken!" expressed with the first few beers.

posted by small_ruminant at 9:18 AM on August 2, 2008


Really? I thought hipsters liked indie rock. Did I miss something?

You missed nothing; hipsters love indie rock. However, everyone has their own definition of what "indie rock" is, and whether or not "indie rock" is a good thing, so you're back to square one. (Is that a tautology? Tautology is one of those hipster words I can never use correctly. I know for sure it's not "begging the question.")

For example, I might (and do) think of Radiohead as indie because, well, they release their own stuff and exist completely outside the label-format, traditional record industry. They do innovative things like allow hipsters (IMHO!) to buy segments of Radiohead songs, remix them, and upload the remixes to the Radiohead site for redistribution on the band's dime. DJs can then download and broadcast these hipster remixes, which I guess one could call "secondary creative output" or whatever dismissive term self-styled non-outputting intellectuals use to describe collage-type postmodern work.

At least, that's what I heard on the not-for-profit radio station I listen to. The station recently played a Radiohead remix that the DJ said had been made by some 13-year-old kid.

This remix was good; I liked it as much or better than the "original" recording, which Radiohead lets anyone download for as much as they want to pay for it, and if I had heard the remix before the original, I would have taken it for a "real" Radiohead track. It was also something that wouldn't have existed when I was the kid's age, or if it did exist, it never would've gotten off the kid's Casio Keyboard.

That 13-year-old kid is growing up in a fundamentally different musical landscape than I did just a quarter-century ago. As pointed out at rather boring length in The Long Tail, more music (in terms of individual, discrete songs) is being created and listened to than ever before in history, but the number of gold records (songs selling more than a half-million copies) has dropped sharply over the last couple of decades. (Man, I'm sorry about that verb mess in the preceding sentence, but I am too old and tired to fix it.) There is no singular "Top 40" music scene that one can follow to keep abreast of the masses; there are subdivisions within subdivisions. "Hipper" friends of mine know the difference between acid, house, and techno, but I don't, and will mistakenly call all of them electronica. I don't have the time (or when I do have the time, the inclination) to familiarize myself with musical genres I'm not really interested in. Thirteen-year-olds do.

Back to Radiohead: a 13-year-old kid today (i.e. the little remixer getting unprecedented airplay) is incapable of thinking of Radiohead as "indie" as his generation defines indie, because Radiohead has been around since before he was born, and therefore Radiohead is now Establishment. He does not remember a time when only weirdos listened to Radiohead. Radiohead have always been there. OK Computer came out when he was two. His parents probably listen to Radiohead. Radiohead is a completely independent band, beholden to no label, but this kid would tell you that they are not "indie."

This kid defines bands I have never heard of as "indie," the bands whose shows he actually goes to because he can afford their tickets but not Radiohead's, the bands that right now are only big in Japan or the toast of Belgium, and perhaps the Radiohead remix was something he did while killing time uploading pictures of himself wearing a popped collar onto his Myspace. Analogously, my mom listened to The White Album constantly while she was pregnant with me. So if you ask me, the Beatles are Establishment, and therefore sitar music sounds kind of dated. However, my grandparents, if any of them were still alive, would tell you that the Beatles are a bunch of crazy, Godless hippies and that sound will never catch on. And kids today (dammit, I said it) are back into sitars. They are! Hipster bars near my house have Indian music nights!

So are sitars indie or what? Therein lies the problem, and that is why everyone and no one is simultaneously a hipster.
posted by cirocco at 10:00 AM on August 2, 2008 [6 favorites]


Tautology is one of those hipster words

Tautology is a perfectly good word if properly used; it was minted long before "hipsters" were using it (I was not aware they were), and it will remain potentially useful long after they have died off. Let's not resign this term to the dustbin just yet; as a precise term of analytic logic, it retains its significance.

posted by ornate insect at 10:34 AM on August 2, 2008


Thanks for that, cirocco. I wasn't being facetious above; even as someone who considers himself a music fan, a lot of the cultural nuances like the hipster subculture go right over my head. And I'm 21!

I guess I wish more people would just listen to music they enjoy without having to consider the cultural trappings, but that's just me.
posted by danb at 11:11 AM on August 2, 2008


Nesreddin, your thesis is wrong not because you didn't write intelligently; your thesis is wrong because everything you wrote about 2008 "hipsters" applies also to past youth subcultures, at least since WWII. There is absolutely no difference between the "appeal to authenticity" of Justice's fake Marshall stacks, and Steve Jones "threatening" stage persona copied note for note from Richard Hell, or The Byrds pretending to be cowboys for that matter. It's all showbiz.

The only difference, of course, is that you don't believe in the entertainment value of the new stuff.
posted by dydecker at 11:23 AM on August 2, 2008


ornate insect, you're assuming that I'm assigning a negative value to "hipster." I'm trying to use the word "hipster" the same way the article does, which I read as: "Person whom I perceive believes himself to be cooler than me based on insufficient evidence, because he's really a dork and most of my friends would also label him a dork. But deep inside I'm afraid he really might be cooler than me, based on someone else's objective standard, because he's conversant in a lot of stuff I've never heard of, and some of those bands with funny names he likes turn out to be really good when I start listening to them five years after he does, so I'd better make fun of him to make my superiority clear to all observers." That is, "tautology" may very well be a great word, but it's overused by people who don't understand it. The set of people who don't understand it probably includes me, but I'm not sure.

I'll try to put my weird position more succinctly: I liked the music that was on the soundtrack albums for the show "The O.C." (they released at least five of them.) But I also wouldn't have been caught dead buying an "O.C." soundtrack album, because I was not in the show's apparent age demographic, and my generation was very anti-compilation album after suffering through so many ads for K-Tel Records in our youth. Ten years prior to "The O.C.," a band's appearance on Beverly Hills, 90210 signified their irrelevance to what was then the "indie" music scene. If FOX was promoting the band, they must suck, or so my peers' logic went.

So, am I a hipster for having liked "The O.C."'s music? Am I a hipster for refusing to buy the albums? Am I a hipster for refusing to watch the show even after I realized that I liked the music? I have read and heard statements, from different parties, that would argue any or all of these positions, which cannot simultaneously be true. The "hipster" position on "The O.C.," from what I could suss out at the time, was something like, "The show sucks, cool people hate that skinny actress the show revolves around, and the music sucks too, but [paradoxically] you're not cool if you don't know what's happening on 'The O.C.' and you're not cool if you've never heard of these bands." I seriously never figured it out, if the show was meant to be enjoyed ironically or what, and then it seemed to go off the air very suddenly. I heard they killed off the skinny girl.
posted by cirocco at 11:31 AM on August 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


After reviewing the above, I have come to believe that the only voices identifying hipsterism as a counterculture are the ones claiming that it is not a true counterculture.

Who ever said it was?
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:38 AM on August 2, 2008


I also don't totally buy into the idea that hipsters these days are destroyed by their own inauthenticity. Anybody saying that is actually thinking of Gen-Xers. People my age (i.e. in their 20s) have a much more complicated relationship with irony than the Reality Bites folks.

I won't buy sweeping generalizations about the inauthenticity of your generation if you don't posit sweeping generalizations about the inauthenticity of mine. Deal?
posted by desuetude at 11:49 AM on August 2, 2008


After reviewing the above, I have come to believe that the only voices identifying hipsterism as a counterculture are the ones claiming that it is not a true counterculture.

Could we think of it not as 'counterculture' but as 'over the counterculture' (in both of the ready readings of that phrase)?
posted by jamjam at 1:09 PM on August 2, 2008


Reading over that link, it seems to have only partially to do with advertising and more to do with psychological manipulation.

Um, what do you think advertising is -- a bunch of well-meant, helpful suggestions?


It sure as hell can be once we drop the excessive cynicism. There were commercials and billboards up for some new breast cancer screening method recently around where I live. They were spreading awareness of something new and helpful and good for people that they should know about. I'm not for a moment doubting the sincerity of these ad's good intentions. A lot of ads are from local stores trying to sell their product. Isn't it possible that some of these people actually believe what they have is good and they're trying to convince people to try it? They're communicating a message. Perhaps one could say communication itself is psychological manipulation since we're always selling our idea and the message. But this is, IMO, an abuse of the word manipulation taken to the point where it loses any useful purpose (like people on metafilter do with the words aggression and violence).

Even annoyances like a 9/10s appended onto gas prices once a manipulation to give the illusion of lower cost, is now nothing more than habit. I don't buy that most people are tricked by this, nor that the owners are attempting to trick anyone (anymore).

I worked, when younger, a temp stint stocking shelves for Coca-Cola (I apologize, I was young, didn't have much money, and new nothing of the Coca-Cola corporation's policies). This was at the time when they changed from the 3x4 shaped packs to 2x6. We were informed that marketing studies showed that sales increased by 7% with the new fridge friendly pack. This looks like a blatant attempt to manipulate the audience, but how do we know that there wasn't some coca-cola employee who came home with a 12 pack one time in a bad mood, started opening the pack to put the cans in individually and then it popped in his/her head that it might be a convenient idea to reshape the packs. Certainly execs liked the idea because of increased profit, but I'm not going to presume that they were manipulating and not simply seeing that a better casing would increase profits because people want it more. And this is from what is largely accepted as a bad company.

The article focused on the mean spirited advertisements which are certainly plentiful where images and messages that have nothing to do with the product whatsoever, or price tricks as in the example are done with direct attempt to deceive. I think it's great to have a book to point out these tricks since a lot of them are subtle enough to get by a careful observers sensors. These are plentiful coming from the large corporations (and every car salesman on the planet) but I'm not even sure they're the bulk of ads and it's not selection bias that causes us to notice the bad ones more often.

Some people still believe in making good things, and doing good things, and spread the message. They may be dwindling but is in part because of the ubiquitous negative commentary on our socio-political state and tying back into the original conversation, hipsters are far from innocent in bringing this about.
posted by kigpig at 3:40 PM on August 2, 2008


When I first heard the word hipster I thought it was a reference to all the senior citizens who've had that pelvis operation.
posted by bwg at 5:40 PM on August 2, 2008


Certainly execs liked the idea because of increased profit, but I'm not going to presume that they were manipulating and not simply seeing that a better casing would increase profits because people want it more.

kigpig: this is a bit of a derail, but what does it matter if the results are the same? If a given company (any company, large or small) could make their profit without selling ANYTHING, how many would feel ashamed to do so and how many would jump at the chance?

I'm not being negative or positive here, I'm just being realistic: capitalism, at bottom, is about getting people to buy things. Whether those "things" are abstract (ad space, air time, pork belly futures, hedge fund portfolios) or concrete (radios, q-tips, ballistic missiles) is not important.

Your examples are all beside the point. Whether or not the free market moderates itself, whether or not societal goodwill and capitalism can in fact dovetail, is best left to the libertarian think tanks. I have no doubt that we erect our justifications for our way of life after the fact, the same way a person justifies to himself or herself a recent expensive consumer purchase, but these justifications are just psychological icing.

I'm uncertain from your comments if the Breast Screening Methods "adverts" you refer to were the initiative of a for-profit company, or if the ads were actually PSA's from the American Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation or what-have-you. But I'm not sure it matters. Everyone is competing for psychic space (I'm competing for yours now).

The hypothetical Coca Cola example you give, even if it is true, is not really significant. For every feel good "let's do this because the customer wants it" story exists a million counter-examples of corporations cutting corners for the bottom line--and pretending as if the new measures are "improvements." An improvement is totally subjective anyway. If someone can get rich selling used diapers, someone will sell used diapers.

Furthermore, if not for the historical reforms of unions and the labor movement, the question of "honest vs. dishonest business practices" would be largely moot. I think you are possibly conflating the question of "honesty" in business with the question of what business is. Advertising is neither dishonest nor honest; it's just self-interested. In a competitive arena where that self-interest requires some degree of dishonesty or extremely subtle psychological manipulation, which is the arena we live in, whoever captures our attention wins. To be bombarded by advertisements and agendas the way we are and NOT be cynical is itself an achievement: one towards which all of should probably strive. But let's not forget how the wheel turns.

posted by ornate insect at 6:13 PM on August 2, 2008


I think everyone's gone but it's worth responding to the question posed:

kigpig: this is a bit of a derail, but what does it matter if the results are the same? If a given company (any company, large or small) could make their profit without selling ANYTHING, how many would feel ashamed to do so and how many would jump at the chance?

I don't know how many would do which. Would you? I suspect by your comments you, like I myself, would not jump at that chance. I know other moral people who would not cave into the pressures of greed. Then there are some lacking the ethics to not do so. But there are other people who want to do the right thing but feel powerless since we've been telling them they can't avoid the inevitable trappings of capitalism for so long, or they've been told by others that what is good for business is good for everybody that they feel powerless to stand up and do what's right.

Your examples are all beside the point. Whether or not the free market moderates itself, whether or not societal goodwill and capitalism can in fact dovetail, is best left to the libertarian think tanks. I have no doubt that we erect our justifications for our way of life after the fact, the same way a person justifies to himself or herself a recent expensive consumer purchase, but these justifications are just psychological icing.

unless, of course, we take the time to consider our actions/purchases before acting. I think the above defeatist attitude has monopolized academic analysis. In fact, the simple act of reading about how something is marketed to us, offers us tools on how to defend against the manipulation.

I'm uncertain from your comments if the Breast Screening Methods "adverts" you refer to were the initiative of a for-profit company, or if the ads were actually PSA's from the American Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation or what-have-you. But I'm not sure it matters. Everyone is competing for psychic space (I'm competing for yours now).

I'm not sure. And I agree that it doesn't matter. It's a good thing either way, IMO.

The hypothetical Coca Cola example you give, even if it is true, is not really significant. For every feel good "let's do this because the customer wants it" story exists a million counter-examples of corporations cutting corners for the bottom line--and pretending as if the new measures are "improvements."

And here is where I disagree. I don't think it's a million to one. It's trending to worse right now but at the same time a lot of people have been educated now on these trappings and are changing attitudes. I've seen quite a few examples at the current company I work at where people fairly high up in management have been choosing the ethical route rather than what's best to line their pockets. And I work on radar systems for airports with competing companies on contracts with the FAA, possibly one of the last places people would expect morality to thrive. I could be wrong and it's hopeless, but I don't think anyone knows this for certain and I'm going to continue to try and convince people that you can be both ethical and thrive, because if enough people are convinced then capitalism or no, morality wins.

Advertising is neither dishonest nor honest; it's just self-interested. In a competitive arena where that self-interest requires some degree of dishonesty or extremely subtle psychological manipulation, which is the arena we live in, whoever captures our attention wins. To be bombarded by advertisements and agendas the way we are and NOT be cynical is itself an achievement: one towards which all of should probably strive. But let's not forget how the wheel turns.

Partly because we allow it to be that way and keep saying it's inevitable. I don't know that it is. After all, there are plenty of people who boycott companies whose ads offend them (perhaps more for the wrong reasons these days) and knock that ad off the radar even if no one's beliefs were changed. We also, I believe, have a certain presidential candidate who, beyond any policies, is offering us a method to break the cycle of political advertising without any value. If he can survive the political arena without caving while going against an opponent that does not share that outlook, and win, the message will be clear: sincerity can work even in the ugliest of games, politics. And others will follow the lead.

I think that's part of the whole "hope" thing.
posted by kigpig at 7:20 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Apropos of nothing:
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, FL
Fri, Aug 15, 2008 07:30 PM 

Order for: Man from Dirigible
Seat location: section 108, row U, seat haha! I'm going to 
see Bruce, you whores!
BRUUUUUUUCE!!!

I'm not a hipster.
Well, I don't think so, I don't even know what's going on here, anymore.


I have hope.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:39 PM on August 2, 2008


Oh, this is silly. Of course hipsters will create something new. Or some other group will. Someone always does. I saw Gavin McInnes doing a "Do's and Don't's" best-of slideshow plus videos from the Street Carnage thing as the opening act for a band.. and suddenly realized, the dude who was at the epicenter of hipsterdom just a few years ago.. was now on stage performing (awkwardly) for my entertainment? It blew my mind. I guess I'm kind of a hipster though verging on too old to qualify.. eh, so what... I'm far less embarrassed of that than I am of fretting so much about it a few years ago. I would go to more dance parties if there weren't people taking photos all the damn time.

But all the fretting that article does about marketers, come on, it was long before I was born.. but didn't every major marketing firm in the entire country start buying and selling hippiedom back to the masses by the time the late 60's rolled around??

Finally, there is some kind of art involved in paying attention to trends around you, where they're going, what's new and what's on the way out. I don't see the problem with that. It's fun, and interesting. But it did kind of throw me when I noticed a younger, total hipster person at my work is ONLY interested in movies that are so-bad-they're-good, and another one is way into 80's soft rock and cheesy ballads.. I was like, I remember when this stuff came out, I'm not all hip and cool because I know the lyrics, I know them because these songs were played everywhere, they'd be the elevator music in the goddamn JC Penney's! But they probably would think shopping at JC Penney's was cool too, at this point, given that we are in a city and you would probably have to drive to somewhere lower class to shop there. So do I give up, or do I go shop there myself? hmm....

Oh, and the hipsters I know who love Bruce Springsteen do in fact completely and unironically love Bruce Springsteen.
posted by citron at 1:59 AM on August 3, 2008


hipsters are products of fossil fueled indulgence and post-modernity. Their lives will have new meaning when we experience more airline bankruptcies, car-maker implosions, and bank failures. By 2012 this kind of article will seem, like, really quaint.
posted by wallstreet1929 at 2:57 PM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Adbusters article about hipsters reminds me a great deal of the article about the problems of Ivy League education that was discussed here a few months ago.

Both were articles whose premises I was prepared to agree with, but the execution of the articles involved so much overreaching and implausibility --- seemingly made-up examples, like the row of fixed-gear bicycles ---that it seemed like a joke.

It's a really banal, dishonest form of writing ... reminiscent of David Brooks' Bobos in Paradise, where he seemingly just made shit up to illustrate his points.
posted by jayder at 4:30 PM on August 3, 2008


I have hope.

At the end of every hard-earned day ...
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:04 AM on August 8, 2008


...another hipster article.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:10 AM on August 8, 2008


American Apparel ad models are hipsters? I had no idea. I guess I always have a picture in my head of the male variety and never considered his female counterpart.

I think I might like hipsteresses.
posted by metaboy at 6:45 AM on August 8, 2008


KokuRyu: while the Adbusters argument was simplistic, there's good evidence of Jewish (Israeli) involvement in helping provoking the Iraq War.
posted by wastelands at 7:51 PM on August 8, 2008


If anyone's still reading this:

ABSOLUTELY FUCKING AWESOME!!!

Get floor tickets, because otherwise, you'll get stuck in front of some douche-stain who yells at you (and the guy in front of you!) to sit down 10 seconds into the first song.

Luckily, that doesn't detract much from the enjoyment, because BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN IS THE GREATEST LIVE ACT IN THE HISTORY OF HUMANITY.

Didn't see many hipsters. Lots of people old enough to be a parent or grandparent, though. I think they're technically yuppies.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:26 PM on August 16, 2008


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