Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization

Cover story from adbuster #79 by Douglas Haddow. Die you rock, punk, disco, hiphop, metal, grunge, alt-rock, emo, mash-up hipster scum of the sub-cultural waste basket!! I *heart* you.

Click here for article

What do you guys think?


Maria Johansson said...

Do you really need to be a hipster to be a"deck" anti-mainstreamer? Also, I don't think it is an especially "western" phenomena. The same type of sub-culture can for example be seen in Japan.

Beigene said...

Oops forgot to link the article.

No you don't have to be a hipster to be anti-mainstream. But that's the critical point of the author is that hipsters ARE NOT anti-mainstream. I think Haddow means the whole package: fixed gear bike, irony, apathy, tight jeans-general attitude and style. I don't remember seeing anything that I would label hipster in Japan. Do you agree that it's a dead end?

Maria Johansson said...

Ok, so I read the article... :)
I guess the author was arguing for the same thing that I reacted to. Hipsters aren't very anti-mainstream after all.
What kinda gets me about hipters, punks etc. is the 'anti'. There is always this catch22 in anything that takes sides. In one way or an other it eventually becomes just the thing that it opposes. I look at it in this way rather than as a dead end.

Isn't NO LOGO (the cicle with the line thru) the brand from Japan?

Maria Johansson said...

I'm sure there is something in this 'chatch 22' or 'dead end' or however we chose to speak of it! What do you think?

Robert J. Williams said...

Not a dead end...just different paths to choose.

So if the self conscious attempt to be hipster (cool) by following market trends (through media devices, i.e. magazines and tv) immediately destroys itself because it follows the same process the mainstream uses to define its self, by buying into a particular style, what then is genuinely cool?

Path where actions inform function:
What jumps out at me in this article is the term "street credit". The idea that you EARN your cool stripes and stars. It seems then a persons day to day actions come into play. Your passions and lifestyle inform the clothes you where, the transportation you use and what level of consumerism you participate in. In the 60's they were trying to get away from consumer culture, so they would make their own clothes, generating a style that was informed by the process. Baggy clothes even had a function to begin with. It was a way to make yourself look bigger and to hide the fact that you may not be as big as the person starring you down, trying to decide if they could take you in a fight. They may even questioning if they should jump you as there might be a weapon hidden under that loose fitting clothing.

Maybe a journalist/photographer wears daily clothing that allows for a camera or recording devices on their person at all times (something other than a stylish safari vest)? Or someone really into biking has a belt buckle that has various tools on it to make a quick adjustment or tuneup? Your style is informed by what you do, not an idea someone sells you on. People extremely passionate about what they do and committed to that cause will always be separate from the mainstream because it is more difficult and it's not quick fix you can just buy into. True you can purchase that tool belt or any item that is functional to a particular group, but then your defining cool on such a surface level which will never be sufficient enough to explain someone's lifestyle. If you simply base what is hipster or cool on what is noticeable on first glance then your very definition of cool is lacking any substance in the first place.

Path of pushing the boundaries past the reach of the mainstream:
The more extreme perspective is that those wishing to break free of consumer cool would need to utilize characteristics that can not be appropriated by the mainstream because they are to vulgar, offensive or dangerous. The only problem is here in the US our 11th commandment says "if it is profitable it is possible".

melissa tioleco-cheng said...

Oh, are hipsters meant to be taken seriously? I thought they were just around to provide a laugh or two. (Like any other marketable "sub culture.")

Nonetheless, the hipster certainly does not represent counterculture in the Western Civilization for me. I'm not aware of categorical terms ("hipster" was new to me) but, in California we've also got our tattooed and pierced, messenger bag-toting vegan types who actively commune to rally against the establishment; and our organic cotton-clad (sans socks), often dread-locked western yogi community who choose to live in very un-western ways. More importantly, what about that breed of human that goes against the grain in action, not identifiable via fashion, choice of clubs, music preference and smoking habit. We got a couple of those running around this Western Civilization as well....I, for one, wasn't depending in these "hipsters" to change the world anyways.

Maria Johansson said...

haha I love what you are saying Melissa!!!
The matter to the fact is though that by closer look these hipsters take themselves so very seriously. I know of someone in the US that labels himself as hipster and he is super ultra conscious about the way he leads his life. He spends his life on making himself look, act and be a way that is so called hipster. So perhaps this tenacious way of life somehow begs for attention and admiration that eventually leads to a form of respect or seriousness. The main problem I have with hipsters (and yes I know I am generalizing, sorry) is that the lifestyle comes with an attitude that is very unattractive.