So nothing on Other People’s Ideas has been so widely clicked as “yeah, hipsters” from a few weeks ago. My cold-eyed pursuit of blogging ubiquity mandates that I pursue more of this level of interest, so here we are again. This time, New York Magazine asks “What was the hipster” – with its use of the past tense confirming that I was desperately late to the story in the first place. Being behind the times is another reason for my not being a hipster: this article does a great job of explaining the characteristics of the phenomenon: “Hipster, in its revival, referred to an air of knowing about exclusive things before anyone else.” The “revival” referenced here took place in 1999: “hipster” was originally used in the late 50s to refer to a certain group of black Americans; it then evolved to refer to white people who dressed like and otherwise imitated these original hipsters. We also learn that “Hippie itself was originally an insulting diminutive of hipster, a jab at the sloppy kids who hung around North Beach or Greenwich Village after 1960 and didn’t care about jazz or poetry, only drugs and fun.”
Later on the article does a good job of explaining what it is that’s hated about hipsters: according to it, it’s the air of rebellion without actual rebellion – a movement characterised by being a consumer of certain niche products but a consumer nonetheless (with the inference that if there’s anything in today’s society worth rebelling against, it’s the pervasive instinct to keep buying things). Further, and perhaps most egregiously, it’s the existence of a movement that looks like it ought to have a core of hyper-creative people at its centre who are changing our culture forever (with the analogue being the Beats in the 50s and a whole bunch of artists and musicians in the 60s), but which actually has nothing more than small batch whiskey distilling and some nice use of fonts where the artistic revolution should be taking place.
For hipster artists, they point to Dave Eggers and Wes Anderson. I suppose in the same vein you could add James Frey from yesterday’s post about writing factories. In music there are more: James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem might be the best example and then there’s Vampire Weekend, Fleet Foxes and various others. I don’t really know much about music: this is yet another highly plausible reason for my not being a hipster.
Anyone care to a) name some more hipster artists; b) defend today’s hipsters from accusations of artistic impoverishment and wanton consumerism, or c) suggest what, if anything is going to replace them (supposing New York Magazine is right to talk as though they’re already gone)?