July 30, 2008

Dude wrote my article on hipsters.*

Douglas Haddow recently did a bit on hipsters entitled Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization (via) and concluded:

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.

This underscores what I call “the economic metaphor” which is embodies the Zeitgeist of the West. The practical and popular are our valuables, while the ideal and the good (not necessarily their former’s opposites) are worthless not invaluable. Hence, I say, the economic metaphor lacks value. A quip that, in all its recursive glory, only augments the “hipster” aesthetic: the clever is the new smart. We are, largely, a culture of echoes, distorting the new and original with our apt, snarky quotations. (Just look at twitter or any run-of-the-mill link blog and you’ll see.) Echoes, like our culture loyalties, fade and we are left looking for the novel or, when nothing new is found, the retro.

I could get all Derridean and niggle about the author’s use of “end,” but that would only muddy the waters. I will, however, say that it does not so much show the end of West as “turn” towards something unexpected. The 60s–for all its political nostalgia–seems just as vacuous to me, a twenty-something, as now.

*To be clear: I mean he is thinking the same thoughts I am.


  1. jandek on July 30th, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    Babe, you own a scooter. You’re a wittle hipster.

  2. Deron Bauman on July 30th, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    careful Simone, someone might think you wrote a dear jesus letter.

  3. Andrew Simone on July 30th, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    But it’s for real economic reasons, jandek. I get 90mpg!

    Deron, everything I write is a dear jesus letter.

  4. Deron Bauman on July 30th, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    I think you might owe this guy royalties.

  5. Kris on July 31st, 2008 at 1:38 am

    What of the “hipster doofus”?

  6. Rick Neece on July 31st, 2008 at 4:32 am

    culture of echoes

    Yes. yesyes. We’re never really where we appear to be.

  7. Mike D. on July 31st, 2008 at 5:50 am

    Eh, this is the century of the American consumer…everything, but everything needs to be viewed through the lens of commerce, advertising, conspicuous consumption, &c.

    That said, there are aspects of the hipster movement that appeal to me. While I’m sure there are adherents for whom it is Very Serious Business, I get a real sense of playfulness in its embrace of anti-beauty, anti-hip, a whole anti-aesthetic. Certainly there are trends, ironic sweaters being replaced by ironic mullets being replaced by ironic mustaches. But an era that gives us ironic mustaches is something special indeed.

    Oh, and: the hipster set seems heavily influenced by some very good trends, such as green living, the resurgent crafts movement (see Etsy), bicycle transportation, and a fairly all-encompassing indie music scene. If I need to witness some shaggy hair and neonuglyshoes, it’s a fair price to pay.

  8. Andrew Simone on July 31st, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Oh, I don’t really mean to decry all of hipsterdom any more than I would honestly deny being a “wittle hipster.” I do disdain the NYC hipsterism in nearly all its forms Heck, I largely disdain NYC (it smells like piss in the summer). It’s just that I see problems in art and culture which stem from the same roots as the ironic mustache.

    What I am getting at, however obliquely, is I have been thinking about these things for some time and this article reminded me of not a few ideas I had a year or so ago and, even, pulled somethings together I hadn’t thought of. I have spent too many hours trying to parse this out with friends over beers (heaven help me, it was Pabst because it was cheap and I was in school and poor) and discussing over-consciousness and this culture of echoes to let this little screed pass me by.

    I’m just relieving pressure.

  9. Sheila Ryan on July 31st, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    I think I get you, Andrew. Something akin to what we’ve discussed with respect to Q______ T________, perhaps?

    Talkin’ ’bout my de-de-de-generation.

  10. Amanda Mae Meyncke on July 31st, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Also, didn’t mean no disrespect by the phrase wittle hipster. Very much jealous of your scooter, mine was stolen ages ago and I miss it.

  11. Andrew Simone on July 31st, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    None taken, of course. You’ll find I have a thick skin, Amanda. Besides, if I were offended then we’d know I was a hipster for sure.

    Yes, Sheila, exactly.

  12. Sheila Ryan on July 31st, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Andrew does have a thick skin. I learned that lesson a good while back. Resulting in my thinking twice before blurting out one of my too-clever-by-half remarks — all on account of his measured response. Funny how that works.

    (Not to equate “wittle hipster,” Amanda, with the remarks I let fly. Believe me.)

    Oh, and Andrew — thought so.

  13. Adam M. on July 31st, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    I don’t understand the love/hate relationship that society has with hipsters. Why is it offensive to be called out as a hipster? Is it because of the connotations attached to the word?
    The author’s claim that this generation is the lost generation is the same claim that every generation for the last century has made. I think we say this because we aren’t at the proper place to examine what’s going on. Its only after a movement has ended that people are able to take stock of it.

  14. Mike D. on July 31st, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    I feel you, Andrew. At the root of his argument is the question, what is authentic? Certainly not this movement, any more than any past trend. He’s seen the greatest minds of his generation destroyed by…American Apparel v-necks and electro indie-pop. Tant pis.

  15. Leigh on August 1st, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    a general shift towards away from Jock culture towards the arts, music, fashion?? A set of cultures that support vintage clothing, riding bicycles, and garage sales?????

    sorry, what are we complaining about here again?

  16. Andrew Simone on August 1st, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Commodification somehow becoming synonymous with authenticity. And the arts, music, and fashion becoming synonymous with commodification. Warhol really started it. And I have very mixed feeling about Warhol.

    I suppose some would call this niggling but I think this has a significant impact on perception, knowing, and human relationships.