Sunday, September 6, 2009

Snob, Part One: "The Nerve," Wherein I Talk Some Serious Smack About Twenty-Somethings

Mocking ‘hipsters’ is fun and easy.

Hipsters are the new scene I can’t stand, replacing the Hot Topic kids. The new ‘goths’ are wearing Joy Division shirts, when most of them were born, typically, a good half decade after Ian Curtis had died. They might not know who New Order are. They may have never listened to an entire Joy Division album. I haven’t either, and that’s why I don’t wear Joy Division shirts. Or The Cure. I don’t really even like The Cure that much. I don’t make a good goth. I don’t even make a good Generation X alternative rocker, which I am, because I don’t own any Dinosaur Jr. But now the new goth kids are cute. They are like a species previously a nuisance but now endangered and sort of cherished because of it.

Those platform Frankenstein Mary Janes are precious. Why yes, I love the glam rock Marilyn Manson, too.

But hipsters... God.

How to spot a hipster: do an image search on Google for indie rockers, Band of Horses. The first image you see of the full band should show you the typical get-up: flannel, skinny tattered jeans, purchased that way or not. Preferably not, I would think. Unless, you know, it’s second hand. They will be sporting a beard that John Lennon couldn’t grow because he was shot in the back four times before it could get that long.

The hipster will be riding a bicycle they built themself, and they will be wearing a messenger bag. They will have old Converse All Stars and no socks. The female variety will be wearing eyeglasses that are way too big and were made last century. They will dress like Nico, and it will not be clear if they are a lesbian. They will smell of patchouli, but they will not have dirty hands because most of them are trust fund kids. The ones who have dirt under their nails work at a co-op. I sort of respect them because they do work. Not really, though, because they don’t turn a profit, and I’m a capitalist.

Your average hipster will not be a fan of Alan Greenspan or Adam Smith.

My general dislike of hipsters and their hipster ways doesn’t have so much to do with their socialism. I am a social liberal leaning fiscally toward Libertarianism because I have Ayn Rand’s interest in mind when it comes to my money. I'm therefore sort of a fiscal conservative. But that’s all right. I want them to be able to go to a hospital and afford to get fixed up when they get hit by a bus on their way to Critical Mass. Socialized medicine for the win, then.

My dislike has not as much to do with their taste in new music, either. I am an old crank who thinks all the last good music was written in the 1990’s (Angel Dust, The Downward Spiral, Grace, OK Computer, to name a few). Unless we are right then listening to your favorite band, to which you’d really like me to give a listen, I will probably not check them out on my own time. Within the last few years, though, I’ve been turned on to the aforementioned Band of Horses as well as Grizzly Bear, both notorious hipster favorites. For the record, even though I used Band of Horses as the example for what a hipster looks like, I do really like the band.

The problem with this is that as soon as hipster favorites become popular, it seems that the hipster has moved on. Whether it’s because the band has ‘sold out’ seems to be irrelevant. It is as though the hipster cannot listen to something that someone else likes (unless the other person is a hipster, too), or that by more people listening to it, it lessens the importance or overall worth of the artist. It is as though the most obscure band wins in this game, and we end up with Pitchfork giving most of the 500 Best Of list this last decade to bands of whom I’ve never heard, or to Animal Collective, who, I guess, is ‘supposed to’ be ‘good.’ This confuses me to no end as I don’t necessarily think popularity means the artist is “good,” but it would appear that the adverse proves true.

I think my discontent with hipsters boils down to a very basic xenophobia, a hatred for what I think of as youth wasting their time, or that they are going through a phase I don’t understand. I am just frustrated when I think of where I was at that age (18-24) thinking I knew what was best for the world. And here I am, this cranky 31 year old thinking that now I definitely know what is best for the world (/sarcasm). Yet I see in this hipster scene (not to be confused with ‘scenesters.’ Don’t get me started on scenesters), a passion and certainty that they are doing what is best for... uh... everyone? And maybe that’s another thing I hate, that general disregard for self in favor of reaching out for the other guy. Man, fuck the other guy.

Here’s where I’m a bad liberal — and I probably would have been a Republican if I had been this age in 1980 — but I am here to tell you that I am looking out for this guy (thumbs up, pointed at self) first and you second. And any of my close friends will tell you, I don’t really give a good goddamn about “community.” My tune will no doubt change when I am inevitably the victim of a mugging that will be thwarted by some of my coffee shop regulars. It’ll be then that I get my comeuppance.

Look, I don’t hate hipsters. If you and I talk about this shit in person, though, I will no doubt use that word. The conversation will go like this: you will say something about a twenty-something who goes to MCAD, and I will say, “I fucking hate hipsters.”

In fact, I can think of several hipsters who I really, really like. My co-worker Jeannie, for one. She's awesome. I don't even think of her as a hipster, but she could be mistaken as one. Anyway, she's too cool for school.

I don’t wish hipsters any particular harm, and as it’s been pointed out to me, I’m sure when I was that age, there was some 31 year old who hated whatever scene I was a part of. I’m ashamed to say it was raver turned speed-metal head.

What I want to get across is not that I think I’m better than them for being their antithesis, but that I am happy to be what they are not. And what this filthy capitalist plans to explore in the next blog posting is this: I am happy to have stuff, and I admit it. I will probably be bragging about it. And it’s not necessarily that I’m better than them (or you), but I am better than the previous version of me, and I don't want to feel guilty for it. It's materialistic, it's petty, and it might just be the thing for which some smug twenty-something is currently hating on me.



  1. I really dig this blog man. That first couple of paragraphs you let me read at the BR were a great teaser. Your toxicity over your subject matter is nicely explained and almost calming.

  2. but without hipsters how will i know what to buy and what bands to listen to? how will i feel comfortable riding my fixie with skinny jeans? i am so confused.

  3. I wonder if I should replace the word 'hipster' with 'indie art school kid' so everyone knew exactly what I meant. But then I thought that the same people would get mad anyway, so it's the same thing, basically.

  4. I'm not sure if it's even the subculture at all, or just the inauthenticity, that's irritating.

    The people who become the most visible in any subculture are generally the ones who show up to everything, and the way you show up to everything is to be so shallow that you haven't got better things to do.

    Let them have their fun - they're fundamentally transient creatures.