Join 3,514 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Buzz is forever?
August 7, 2008 11:18 PM   Subscribe

Lord of the Memes : Now that MeFi has taught me how to beat the hipsters, how do I beat the poseurs? David Brooks says "prestige has shifted from the producer of art to the aggregator and the appraiser;" the cultural elite are early adopters and, more importantly, early discarders, of culture.

The article is worthwhile if only because Brooks provides an interesting narration on what being cool by being anti-cool has meant in the last 75 years or so. Has the exponential growth of culture blurred the lines between high and low culture? If we no longer define cultural literacy by a set of notable reference points, can we even speak of a one culture?
posted by l33tpolicywonk (70 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Just be sure to get in on the dick punching craze while it's fresh, or you'll be just another coat tail rider..
posted by mediocre at 11:39 PM on August 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


Yeah, yeah, yeah... isn't this the third post about the death of culture this week?

I remain unconvinced.
posted by SansPoint at 11:46 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't think I'm asking if culture has died as much as asking if the concept of culture is on the decline (or, rather, if the big thick lines that used to bind together a culture still exist).
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 11:48 PM on August 7, 2008


More seriously, I think like the music industry, radio industry, newspaper industry, etc etc etc.. culture as we know it has been fundamentally changed by the internet and how quickly information becomes disseminated because of it. Being an early adopter means liking something only a few days before EVERYONE knows what it is, as opposed to the years it could be before..

That's why passionate people hate hipsters. I'll take ironic appreciation of metal as an example.

When I got into metal, I had to scour magazines, befriend pen pals, and make plenty of blind purchases to find the bands that spoke to me. And it was that much more rewarding for it, I felt like I had found them and they were uniquely my own. But these days you hear a name and within minutes you have the entire discography of the band, there is no longer "discovery" when it comes to culture. Art has lost its value both monetarily and sentimentally. So when I see a hipster wearing a vintage (or "distressed" new) shirt of a band I have loved since a kid, that I only heard of because I wrote a guy in Germany who made me a fourth generation tape I take it personally. I shouldn't, but I do.
posted by mediocre at 11:48 PM on August 7, 2008 [14 favorites]


That's why passionate people hate hipsters.

Gnngh. And it's also precisely why I hate 'passionate people'. Sometimes I like something because I like it, not because it's the band/movie/book/meme/domestic animal de jour. Being browbeaten out of your own tastes just because some more tenacious types got there first is so, so depressing. Culture isn't real estate, for Chrissakes. You can't squat on it and turn your hose on anyone who dares attempt to join you.
posted by RokkitNite at 11:59 PM on August 7, 2008 [7 favorites]


I was into David Brooks back when you still thought George Will was the shit.
posted by felix betachat at 12:03 AM on August 8, 2008 [12 favorites]


Culture isn't real estate, for Chrissakes.

True, but culture isn't for tourists, either.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:04 AM on August 8, 2008


True, but culture isn't for tourists, either.

What? Culture is specifically for tourists. That's why tourists tour, to see other cultures. Not only that but culture isn't some thing sitting on a mountain top, that only an elite few can create an enjoy. Culture is everybody, collectively of a society. What they like, what they don't like, what's frowned upon and such.
posted by Hypocrites at 12:07 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I agree with you on some level, Hypocrites.. but tourism isn't really an apt metaphor..

If it were, then looking at a photograph 2 minutes ago of the Roman Coliseum gives me the right to say how much I love having been there..
posted by mediocre at 12:09 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


And RokkitNite, you are certainly right that no one should be made to feel bad about their tastes simply because they are new to them..

But you can't tell me there isn't at least one thing that you sometimes think "Yeah, but I liked them/it before they/it were/was cool"

Unless you lie about it anyways.
posted by mediocre at 12:11 AM on August 8, 2008


Mediocre, while I don't think how you worded that is valid. Your argument actually makes more sense, than the one I replied to. I don't know what you would call someone who would look at a photograph and do that, but it is a much better metaphor for what we are talking about than a 'tourist'. Actually it's the metaphor for what we are talking about here. What's an appropriate name for such a person?
posted by Hypocrites at 12:14 AM on August 8, 2008


Well, in the metal lexicon, it would be Poser.
posted by mediocre at 12:16 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd like to make a comparison with the Hellenistic tendency to encyclopaedias and commentaries rather than original work - unfortunately I can't find a relevant quote.

Must be something in Star Wars that bears on this...?
posted by Phanx at 12:19 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I RTFA and got the impression that this is someone who isn't that familiar with internet culture.

Memes aren't a bad thing, although they certainly can have a short lifespan and can be annoying depending on your tolerance and their relative ubiquity and stupidity level. It's sort of like being able to talk to anyone from X country, state or locality about a TV show or a sports team. Memes are a small unit of mutually shared cultural currency, one that can be used to bond with others on different sites to integrate oneself in the community (lurk moar first, of course.) I suppose it can all seem threatening for a n00b, but a bit of gentle pwn4ge should take care of that and then you're ONE OF US.ONE OF US.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:20 AM on August 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


That's why tourists tour, to see other cultures.

Tourists tour shopping malls in cities hundreds of miles away, just like the shopping malls in their own cities, and call it culture. Buying a cup of Starbucks coffee in another state is not culture, that's laziness. There's no challenge to the tourist to think about the world in a different way. Tourism issues no test or trial on the consumer.

Is it really necessary to say that putting some kind of risk or adventure into exploration is "elitist" — that the chance that another culture might cause you to question your worldview is considered elitist? Culture should inspire, excite, stimulate. Tourism does little, if any, of this.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:21 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Blazecock,

What do you call someone who does go to other cultures to be inspired, excited, stimulated? You call them a tourist, I agree with your argument, now that I know what you are getting at, just the metaphor was a bit vague.
posted by Hypocrites at 12:26 AM on August 8, 2008


Louche,

I agree, I think memes are beneficial for communities. They are the little fibers that hold everyone together, that sort of transcend everyones' differences and remind us we're a part of a bigger whole. Of course, now I sound like an 'elitist douchebag', so... FUCK IT! We'll do it live!
posted by Hypocrites at 12:30 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Has totally ignoring what's hip come back into fashion yet?
posted by Clave at 12:34 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


They made a "I Love The...00's" before the decade even ended?

Jesus fucking Christ I hate VH1.
posted by paisley henosis at 12:36 AM on August 8, 2008


Has totally ignoring what's hip come back into fashion yet?

No. Please stop wearing scrunchies.
posted by Hypocrites at 12:37 AM on August 8, 2008


When I got into metal, I had to scour magazines, befriend pen pals, and make plenty of blind purchases to find the bands that spoke to me. And it was that much more rewarding for it, I felt like I had found them and they were uniquely my own. But these days you hear a name and within minutes you have the entire discography of the band, there is no longer "discovery" when it comes to culture. Art has lost its value both monetarily and sentimentally. So when I see a hipster wearing a vintage (or "distressed" new) shirt of a band I have loved since a kid, that I only heard of because I wrote a guy in Germany who made me a fourth generation tape I take it personally. I shouldn't, but I do.

Summary: Nothing is good if any other people like it. Thank you, Indy Rock Pete.
posted by SansPoint at 12:37 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Of course, now I sound like an 'elitist douchebag', so... FUCK IT! We'll do it live!
posted by Hypocrites at 12:30 AM



Even elitist douchebags need a hug.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:52 AM on August 8, 2008


But you can't tell me there isn't at least one thing that you sometimes think "Yeah, but I liked them/it before they/it were/was cool"

True, and I've felt the same way myself from time to time. However, if you take a step back and unpack the assumptions in that attitude, you'll recognize that it's just a pose, as passionless and inauthentic as the pose of 'ironic appreciation'.

There is nothing in metal (or in any expression of culture) that requires that you make various sacrifices in exchange for some formal or informal title. There are no trials by fire. There are no titles and no rankings. The notion that you are a more credible fan of a culture because you have given up more time, more money, more opportunities, is just arbitrary.

I'm not saying you're a bad person for feeling this way, I'm just pointing out that to resent the late-adopters of metal is not in itself metal. Those distinctions are not built in to the culture: you chose them.

If that argument makes no impression, then look at it this way: pity the late-adopters. They might have new tools with which to obtain and filter products of the culture, but active participation in the culture can only happen in real time, person-to-person. They will never have your perspective, even if they devote themselves with every waking moment. The early adopters have insurmountable advantages.

You got into metal when the culture was narrower, the participants fewer. Your reach was shorter, but the field was more limited. The culture grown a lot since. You observed the differentiations into subcultures as they happened. Nowadays you have the same tools as the late-adopters do to obtain and filter the music, but you'll participate in the culture much more efficiently, and you'll get more out of it, because you've been in it for longer.
posted by Ritchie at 12:56 AM on August 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm supposed to be writing a paper right now; I think I'll procrastinate instead. I've been up for some 36 hours now, sorry if this comment descends into e e cummings territory.

I wanted the David Brooks article to be so much better. There wasn't really a lot of meat to it. On the other hand, this post gives me an opportunity to espouse my new take on hipsters. I guess I have to make the obligatory, "I used to hate on hipsters back when it was still cool" comment. Now that that is out of the way, I think I'll defend them. Not that Brooks' article necessarily has to be construed as anti-hipster.

Anyway I'm going to have to say that hipsters, strictly in the Indie Kid sense, are probably my favorite current subculture. (Jazz-loving beatniks on the other hand are all communists.) I'm referring to the etic conception of indie kids, as they don't seem to openly recognize themselves as a group.

Basically I'm going go out on a limb and say that in order for someone to be a respected hipster within their local coven one has to be pretty intelligent. In order to successfully reference, mock, and recontextualize so much pop culture simultaneously, hipsters have to juggle a lot of information.

This isn't necessarily true of punk kids, and certainly not with goth kids who despite their precocious middle school posturing are probably one of the most mediocre social groups I can think of.

So yeah, a lot of indie kids/hipsters are dicks, but they generally do interesting things and have a very well developed sense of taste. It's an aesthetic that you have to be pretty sharp to pull off and relies so many weird little social cues that poseurs are quickly sorted out. Yeah there's a lot of BS oneupmanship wankery, but every group has it's elitists. I mean look at road cyclists, or movie nerds or pretty much any group of people with a common interest. Considering that indie hipsters have been recognizable in most US college towns for about 8 years now, their style has been remarkably hard to pin down and co opt. It's easy to mock the obvious trappings but the culture is very good at sloughing off anything that becomes too mainstream while still maintaining the over all edge.

Plus any social group that doesn't encourage women to Brazillian wax their hoohah area is cool in my book.
posted by Telf at 1:02 AM on August 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


More seriously, I think like the music industry, radio industry, newspaper industry, etc etc etc.. culture as we know it has been fundamentally changed by the internet and how quickly information becomes disseminated because of it.

On the flipside, the availability of information and commerce gives you access to anything you want - something I would have pouted and cried killed for growing up in Middle of Nowhere WI. Now, and this is not hypothetical, I can collect prosthetic eyes and Polish movie posters, find amazing klezmer music, and talk to interesting people from all over the world without having to spend insane amounts of money or resources to do so. Sure, it may be too easy, but that's why living in the future rules.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:04 AM on August 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


But you can't tell me there isn't at least one thing that you sometimes think "Yeah, but I liked them/it before they/it were/was cool"

Sure, and then I grew up.
posted by rodgerd at 1:12 AM on August 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


(Jazz-loving beatniks on the other hand are all communists.)

I was kind of annoyed when my way out of date semi-ironic tag was appropriated. I guess it was too good not to be recycled.

*sound of bongos, waft of smoke*
posted by Wolof at 1:15 AM on August 8, 2008


Yeah, too many people march along to the product obsolescence and upgrade plans of the companies that sell them entertainments and the toys that play those entertainments. And this is not new, of course, but being always plugged in certainly aggravates it. Now there are always people in your ear telling you they have discovered something new that is better than what you are enjoying now.

Choose your culture partly on how old it is, not how new: if it has been pleasing smart people young and old for years, long beyond the reach of the advertising campaign, there's a fair chance that it's worth your time. If it came out just this week, this month, this year, ignore it. Ignore the ads. Ignore the gossip. Ignore the newspaper and magazine reviews. Ignore the Buy Now! messages. That's all just marketing. Unless you have read all of the great books of the past and seen all of the great movies several times and heard all of the great recordings, you don't have to choose something from the current bestseller lists. If you're young, you have years to get around to today's releases, assuming you still care to do so after the advertising campaigns have been forgotten. If you're old, you don't need to waste your remaining years always chasing after the latest thing. Let other people waste their time consuming 100 percent of new culture looking for the 1 percent non-crap. They're eating large steaming portions of the other 99 percent so you don't have to.
posted by pracowity at 1:18 AM on August 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


This is pretty much unrelated.. but when reading critical (professional or blog) responses to art, I find that I generally find that the larger the disparity between the best review and the worst review, the more interesting and worth my time the art is. If the art can draw reactions both gushingly positive and violently negative, then it must have something worth looking into.
posted by mediocre at 1:30 AM on August 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


...and then I grew up.

Haha, well I did point out that my feelings at those time are irrational. But I'm not a Vulcan, I have wildly irrational moments and annoyingly logical moments..
posted by mediocre at 1:32 AM on August 8, 2008


All this really tells me is that David Brooks has read Marshall McLuhan, which brings him back to the first epoch of snobbery, by his formulation.
posted by Weebot at 1:58 AM on August 8, 2008


And then you punch somebody in the dick, and it's all better. Emoticon smiley thing.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:00 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


...

Yeah, us hipsters read Douglas Rushkoff.
posted by mediocre at 2:35 AM on August 8, 2008


This is pretty much unrelated.. but when reading critical (professional or blog) responses to art, I find that I generally find that the larger the disparity between the best review and the worst review, the more interesting and worth my time the art is. If the art can draw reactions both gushingly positive and violently negative, then it must have something worth looking into.

This can also be a consequence of popularity. If reactions to a work of art fall into a normal distribution curve, a greater number of reactions will trend towards a greater separation between the greatest and least. A popular piece has more critical reactions to draw from, ensuring that it will always excite "controversy." Thus, fame alone makes Paris Hilton a "controversial" figure, in spite of whatever intrinsic merits she does/doesn't have.
posted by kid ichorous at 2:49 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, that's when jaded trollism comes into play. The people who write violently negative reviews simply because they don't like the positive reviews are usually pretty apparent in tone.
posted by mediocre at 3:07 AM on August 8, 2008


I was walking past Abercrombie in the mall the other day and heard "Never Gonna Give You Up" blaring from that darkened abode of trendy douchbaggery. For fun I went into the store and stayed for the full song. Everyone in there was on their cell phones, milling about with their friends, and not really noticing a change from their regular listening schedule. I remember when Duckrolls on youtube morphed overnight into Rickrolls. I got hit in the second wave of the song I think, at the time it was inexplicable but funny, and then like magic it was everywhere on the internet. Yet here it was, being played in a place so devoid of humor or irony that they use images of shirtless men to sell shirts.

So basically, I call bullshit on this article; it's the same as it ever was when it comes to trends. The rate of exchange and exposure is faster, but there is still the delight of discovering something new, the deepening fondness that occurs in the time that it spreads, and then the irrational sentimental anguish as it gets picked up by people you consider posers. And frankly the rate of transfer is nowhere near as high as people tend to think. My Rickroll example probably spans about six months. (I'm a bit fuzzy on the dates to be honest.) Goatse is possibly a more interesting example since it's nigh incorruptible as memes go. Goatse is going on 10 years now, and has been mentioned over 800 times on Metafilter alone, yet there is still a seemingly endless supply of fresh victims to shock with it. It still gets parodied too. The third place in the official Bioshock art contest is certainly a cheeky homage. Even across fiber optic cable, word of mouth is still sometimes word of mouth.

As far as that "means of transmission replaced the content" bit, I'd argue that there have always been people who are interested in the form, and people who are interested in the content. Since he mentioned opera in the article, well, there have always been people who attend things like the opera for the sole purpose of being seen by others attending an opera. Listing favorites on facebook is largely the same impulse to be seen and associated with certain cultural choices in an attempt to elevate yourself in the opinion of others. If the majority of people honestly gave two bits about the way something was delivered versus its content, internet piracy of music and movies would come to a grinding halt. There is even a fairly robust trade in pirated e-books. You can't do much with one of those except read it for the content.

Culture isn't going anywhere. If you feel the need to namedrop Kafka you can still get away with it pretty easily. What is in vogue changes, and there has always been a bewildering vastness of things to explore for those inclined (more so now thanks to the internet), but at the end of the day you can have a pretty complete conversation in Simpson quotes. I feel like that counts for something.
posted by CheshireCat at 3:10 AM on August 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


"prestige has shifted from the producer of art to the aggregator and the appraiser;"

Yeah, last time I was at a fashionable restaurant, a shitload of pop stars had to wait for a table while me and my journalist pals were seated with great fanfare.

mediocre wrote: This is pretty much unrelated.. but when reading critical (professional or blog) responses to art, I find that I generally find that the larger the disparity between the best review and the worst review, the more interesting and worth my time the art is. If the art can draw reactions both gushingly positive and violently negative, then it must have something worth looking into.

Isn't there always a massive disparity? It's easier, and more fun, to praise something you really love or to slate something you really hate, and readers (well, editors at least) like reading gushing/ranting; writing about something you think is interesting but not fabulous is harder, and less entertaining. So stuff gets preselected for brilliance/shitness by writers and editors. Unless it's a really big deal, which is why I just had to write a "aspects of this are splendid, some of it is a bit meh, but ultimately the meh stuff doesn't quite undermine the splendid", which was a pisser to write compared to a big rant or rave, and I bet it won't prompt the usual emails from readers, happy to have a chance to get stuck into me for being absolutely right/preposterously wrong.
posted by jack_mo at 3:47 AM on August 8, 2008


Maybe I'm just being selective in which reviews I take seriously? I don't know.. I read a lot of reviews of things, and at least 80 percent of them I don't value even a little bit because of that tendancy these days for just that sort of reader-attracting gushing..

I don't know, maybe the premise is totally invalid.. I love The Angry Video Game Nerd and all he does is shit on everything for spectacle. But that was never intended as serious critique, which is the same way I regard most reviews I read.

I guess I just only take a review seriously if I get the sense that the reviewer actually absorbed and internalized the art and is expressing their thoughts on it vs someone who points out its flaws and strengths like a laundry list..

Yeah, it's more likely that after 4 paragraphs of rambling and being unable to argue for it, that the premise is invalid..
posted by mediocre at 4:15 AM on August 8, 2008


"I RTFA and got the impression..."

Whoa, whoa there, buddy. You're obviously new here.
posted by Eideteker at 4:45 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm so sick of the "getting punched in the dick" emoticon... X-0
posted by Tbola at 5:08 AM on August 8, 2008


(Just found this xkdc strip on digg. It kinda fits...)
posted by kolophon at 5:12 AM on August 8, 2008


The reason people use knowledge of obscurity as a metric for social status is that by creating an arbitrary in-group out-group criteria, the hipster can be at the top of a small hill and not feel powerless due to his insignificance in the world at large. This is also why art becomes a currency for the wealthy, as you can't simply buy into this alternate status hierarchy.

This is obvious, so why do people keep going on and on about it?

Every time someone talks about the poseur and the connoisseur, I think about video games, where the hard-core denigrate the casual for their unwillingness to stay in the basement and dedicate their lives to being better than others at something that doesn't matter.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 5:30 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


obsolete brooks is obsooooleeeeete
posted by Greg Nog at 6:21 AM on August 8, 2008


obsolete brooks is obsooooleeeeete

You mean obso1337?
posted by Herodios at 6:35 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]



What Is Hip?

So ya wanna dump out your trick bag
Ease on int' hip thang
But you ain't exactly sure what is hip
So you started to let your hair grow
Spent big bucks on your wardrobe
Somehow you know there's much more to the trip

CHORUS
What is hip?
Tell me, tell me, if you think you know
What is hip?
If you're really hip, the passin' years will show
You're into a hip trip. Maybe hipper than hip.
What is hip?

You became a part of a new breed
Been smokin' only the best weed
Hangin' out on the so called hippie set
Seen in all the right places
Seen with just the right faces
You should be satisfied, but still it ain't quite right

CHORUS

BRIDGE
Hipness is what it is
Hipness is what it is
Hipness is what it is
And sometimes hipness is what it ain't!

You went and found you a guru
In an effort to find you a new you
And maybe even manage to raise your conscious level
While you're striving to find the right road
There's one thing you should know
What's hip today, might become passe'

CHORUS

Think about it y'all

What is hip?
posted by Herodios at 6:47 AM on August 8, 2008


You lost me at "David Brooks says".
posted by DU at 6:52 AM on August 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


0xdeadc0de: The reason people use knowledge of obscurity as a metric for social status is that by creating an arbitrary in-group out-group criteria, the hipster can be at the top of a small hill and not feel powerless due to his insignificance in the world at large.

I think to people who buy thoroughly into postmodernism, there's really not much difference between quoting an artist and being the artist. Original authorship is yet another false eidos smashed in the ascendancy of new culture. It holds back the arts. The Club DJ beatmatching two records is, for all purposes, the immediate and relevant generator of art; not the James Brown vinyl he's cannibalizing for source material.

Halloween Jack, early in the Hipster thread that refuses to die, identified hipness as "creativity by proxy," and I think this is extremely accurate. Many people are doing little more than shouting from a mountaintop of collected cultural artifacts, a feat of digital packrating which gets easier and cheaper every year.

David Brooks: The brain overshadows the mind.

But there's another side to it. Because our minds and memories are, day by day, more and more augmented by, and externalized into the vastness of our storage and communications media - our intentions formatted as endless to-do lists, our memories as pictures, our facts fossilized into Wikipedia entries, our private muse a cross-section of some vast public playlist - it's never been easier to mistake one's own identity for some outward thing.

If we are being leaked online, going from analog to digital, and there's something to the idea that our access to fast, infinite storage actually increases our own identity, then we're already crossing some cybernetic barrier. So maybe that person standing on a terabyte of information really is taller.
posted by kid ichorous at 7:23 AM on August 8, 2008 [5 favorites]


I was into David Brooks back when you still thought George Will was the shit.

yeah, but dude: Brooks is, like, so three generations ago.

(Also: David Brooks on what is or is not cool? Is he joking?)
posted by mwhybark at 8:13 AM on August 8, 2008


If the art can draw reactions both gushingly positive and violently negative, then it must have something worth looking into.

This is a really astute observation. One of the few worthwhile things I learned in art school was that the purpose of art is to elicit a reaction, not to make people like it. Art that people violently hate is successful. Art that people passionately love is successful. Art that people feel nothing about has failed.

In this manner, I guess Thomas Kinkade is more successful as an artist than a lot of "blah" art I've seen in galleries. I sure as hell violently hate it.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:23 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


But these days you hear a name and within minutes you have the entire discography of the band, there is no longer "discovery" when it comes to culture. Art has lost its value both monetarily and sentimentally.

Bullshit. I'm a child of napster - I didn't listen to music before p2p came along (I lived on an island that didn't have a record store). I have never known a world in which almost any music wasn't, at most, a few days of searching and downloading away.

So do I miss out on the arduous struggle of finding obscure bands... and the satisfaction of having earned new records through toil. Perhaps. But just because we have access to everything doesn't mean it's easy to find things we like amongst the noise.

Music is so much more important that identity politics. Good music is that which can stand on merits other than serving as a shibboleth for some cultural group (though that's not a completely bad thing).

Some artists and genres are popular primarily because they serve this role.

snap/crunk hip hop, gangsta rap - I'm a young black inner city kid or frat boy who'd like to be.
Avril Lavigne, Evanescence - I'm a disaffected teenage girl.
Garth Brooks, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Pop-Country - I identify with rural America.
Shpongle, Ozric Tentacles, Neuronaut - I do LSD! Purple Monkey Dishwasher!
Grand Funk Railroad, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin - I'm a liberal boomer.
Steve Reich, Phillip Glass - I'm arty.
Kraftwerk - Ve are nihilists lebowski.
Pavement, Tom Waits, MIA, The Ting Tings, Of Montreal, etc. - I'm a musicblogger/college radio kid
Schlager - I'm middle-aged or elderly, lower middle class, and teutonic.


Now, I like some of these artists/genres... I can't stand others. But I'd like to think that there is more to my taste than crafting playlists that define me as a person, and the truly great artists are the ones that speak to people on some level other than "hey, we're all part of group X and we're awesome". It's all a matter of taste, but I tend to have more respect for people who evaluate music on some basis other than that.
posted by phrontist at 8:45 AM on August 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's also worth nothing a corollary here... a lot of hate for music comes down to rivalry between cultural cliques. Conservative boomers hate on "rap" because they're uncomfortable it's perceived audience. Likewise with indie kids and pop music. Or city people and country (how many times have you heard "I love everything but country").
posted by phrontist at 8:49 AM on August 8, 2008


Oh, this is also, I think, why so many people report the music they listened to when they were 13-25 or so is their favorite. This is when most people are carving out their identities, so if that's your primary critical motivation, musically, it's natural you'll be biased towards that era over subsequent ones. Add to this tensions between generations and it's not hard to see why the vast majority of people don't "get" the whippersnapper's music by age 40 or so.

The community/college radio station I work at has a DJ who's been on air pretty much all 20 years of the station's existence. His show is amazing, because while he's got 30+ years on me, he's just as likely to play something that came out in his 20's or 40's as he is to play something that came out last week.
posted by phrontist at 9:00 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, truly great music brings people together instead of driving them apart. Look at James Brown, Stevie Wonder, or The Beatles (well, okay, that's not quite fair, as there as a huge youth-culture battle with The Rolling Stones). The best shows I've been to are the ones where the demographic attending isn't totally homogeneous.
posted by phrontist at 9:04 AM on August 8, 2008


Unless you have read all of the great books of the past and seen all of the great movies several times and heard all of the great recordings, you don't have to choose something from the current bestseller lists.

How many old books or movies must I read before I can read a new one? How old must they be and how new is the "new" allowed to be?

David Brooks should join Adbusters; he'd be right at home.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:06 AM on August 8, 2008


Also, Opera was, up until relatively recently, entertainment for the masses, not just for stuffy uppercrust folks.

So, he's wrong there.

/using obscure knowledge to argue an article talking about how obscure knowledge makes you cool
/ironical.
posted by softlord at 9:24 AM on August 8, 2008


I liked David Brooks' first two albums, when he was still giving Devendra Barnhart a run for his money with his own neo-Beefheart, post-Caetano Veloso psych-folk-prog Tiny Tim on LSD shtick, but his last two albums totally blew.
posted by ornate insect at 9:26 AM on August 8, 2008


Also, I'm starting to think one might perhaps be able to just program these me-fi threads (on hipster-ism, cultural literacy and related themes and tangents) to generate themselves: I cannot be alone in feeling a serious case of deja vu here.
posted by ornate insect at 9:35 AM on August 8, 2008


I was really excited about Brooks' early usage of the "Ys come and go, but X is forever" construct. It's brutal pointedness really cut straight to the heart of his thesis.

But his second invocation only proved that its time had passed. This article's later paragraphs are clearly just empty rehashings of Brooks' earlier, more youthful writing: heartless shadows of the article's opening paragraphs.

Febrile acolytes perch here, plz.
posted by rlk at 9:43 AM on August 8, 2008


how do I beat the poseurs?

Hickory stick for the poseurs, birch branch for the anti-poseur poseurs, baseball bat for David Brooks.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:51 AM on August 8, 2008


baseball bat for David Brooks.

Just make sure not to use a maple one, you might get a splinter.
posted by drezdn at 10:02 AM on August 8, 2008


octobersurprise: How many old books or movies must I read before I can read a new one? How old must they be and how new is the "new" allowed to be?

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:18 AM on August 8, 2008


kid ichorous: I think to people who buy thoroughly into postmodernism, there's really not much difference between quoting an artist and being the artist.

Cat and Girl
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:29 AM on August 8, 2008


Jesus Christ, Brooks must be really desperate for shit to write about, this is the middle of August, but still
posted by matteo at 11:34 AM on August 8, 2008


>> baseball bat for David Brooks.
> Just make sure not to use a maple one, you might get a splinter.

Use an aluminum bat. And bring your sampling mic, you'll love that analog boink.
posted by jfuller at 12:50 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


What I would like to know is, what is the origin of the phrase "hipster doofus"? I read every comment in this thread waiting to see if someone would use this term, and finally, about 1/2-way in, willmize did. Thank goodness. I like hipsters because whenever I think of them I think of the words "hipster doofus" and laugh. But I thought I was the only one who knew about this (besides my husband, which is one of the reasons I married him). Does anyone else use this phrase? If so, how'd it come to you? Did you hear it somewhere? Or did it just occur organically to you? I want to know so much that I just (after 4 years of lurking) paid $5 to find out.
posted by staggering termagant at 1:09 PM on August 8, 2008


Isn't 'culture' that stuff that starts growing in the coffee pot after it's been left out too long? I'm pretty sure it never dies.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:27 PM on August 8, 2008


What I would like to know is, what is the origin of the phrase "hipster doofus"?

The wikipedia claim is this:
A derogatory designation for Kramer has been "hipster doofus", a moniker assigned to him by a woman in a wheelchair he once dated in the episode "The Handicap Spot", and occasionally directed at him by Elaine, as in "The Glasses". The nickname was first used in a newspaper review of Seinfeld.
posted by pracowity at 3:07 PM on August 8, 2008


So what's with all the dick-punching?
posted by subgear at 8:35 PM on August 8, 2008


I see a lot of comments in here that basically say "oh yeah, cultural early-adopters are so annoying, and by the way, I liked that thing way before you did". Cognitive dissonance anyone?
posted by tehloki at 8:32 AM on August 9, 2008


I was hating on hipsters before it was cool.
posted by phrontist at 9:42 AM on August 10, 2008


« Older The owner of a California medical marijuana dispen...  |  "The First Gaze" -... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments