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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Stop writing about hipsters

Posted By on Thu, Apr 5, 2012 at 2:15 PM

Just do it. Please. Do it until you have really examined how possible it is to not be doing it.


The recent resurgence of it started as an invective, a slight to a generation of people doing the same "cool" things others have done but without any effort or reason. Collectors of "cool" things, an inter-generational mash-up of pop cultural artifacts and fashion. The Internet made this way easier to do — there are websites where you can catalog all the "cool" things you like and share them like they're your own discoveries, like your identity depends on it. It's self-obsession set to self-destruct, "a culture lost in the superficiality of its past and unable to create any new meaning."

Somehow, instead of fizzling out as a dumb pejorative, it became ironic self-parody, then an actual thing. Mainstream media fixated on what it is or means. People self-identify as it. It's a marketing gimmick. Now it's a marking of a travel destination.

Congratulations, New Orleans, you're one of them now, says the "listicle" farts-for-brains soothsayers Travel + Leisure, which seemingly just lists the pretty unanimously agreed "cool" and interesting cities in the U.S. then arbitrarily dubs them hipster destinations. So what makes you a hipster, New Orleans?

The Crescent City has a legendary cafe culture and a rich music and arts scene. The newest version of hipster bohemians are found in the Marigny area, a historic neighborhood with colorful architecture and good spots to sample the city’s top-ranking bar scene, such as the Hi-Ho Lounge and Mimi’s in the Marigny. To dress the part—and see why the city ranked near the top for both indie boutiques and flea markets—check out the local vintage shops, such as the Revival Outpost on Magazine Street.

... What? To recap: listening to music, drinking coffee, going to bars, shopping at thrift stores. These are requisites, according to a national publication, for someone being a "hipster." If you do any of the above, you're a trendsetter! Look at you! It must've taken generations to craft these things — having a beer at a dive bar, watching live music — into something so cool they merit a new word to describe just how cool they are. The line in the sand has been drawn: if you do these things, you are a hipster, according to The Man.

New Orleans also will soon be the subject of an upcoming YouTube series called American Hipster that will "feature original hipster-focused programming." Hipster-focused. This means you, New Orleans. You're nationally recognized as a hipster destination, so naturally you're all over this series.

The channel outline includes profiling America’s trendsetters in their hometowns and critiquing the biggest movies, news, and celebrities. The first city to be profiled will be San Francisco followed by Austin, Philadelphia and New Orleans.

The channel also has programming like Hipster Grandmas. (Perhaps coming soon, Two and a Half Hipsters, How I Met Your Hipster, and whatever watered down culture aggregate can be shoved into programming for dummies.)

Next time you joke about your friend buying fair trade coffee or a vinyl record — "You're such a hipster!" — remember that nobody actually knows what it means anymore. And really, who cares. The word has reached ubiquity to a point of meaning absolutely nothing. (Wearing Converse All-Stars? "Look at this hipster!")

I once was asked what kind of audience my band attracted. I said, "Young, I guess, people interested in punk music —" "Oh, so like hipsters?" No.

You don't need a name to validate the things you do and things you like. If you attach your entire worldview to those things, you're just guilty of being a big dumb idiot. "Hipster" is not culture. It's consumption.

It's a totally made up phenomenon and it makes anyone who says it look stupid. Stop encouraging it.

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