Enough time has passed since the world was at Peak Hipster for us to look back at it as a movement, or a craze, or a meme, or whatever the fuck it was and try to take stock of what it all meant, if anything. So this week we're doing exactly that in a short collection of stories.
The idea of the hipster has ceased to be. While people still have beards, no one carries around a portable record player, guys don't really wear thick rimmed glasses, and putting sepia filters on your Instagram posts is out of vogue. The term hipster is now just a synonym for "a new thing I don't get," or "someone who does something that I don't do."
If you don't take drugs, people who do are hipsters. If you don't drive an electric car, people who do are hipsters. Vegans are hipsters. People who are really into meat are hipsters. People with hats are hipsters to people who aren't wearing hats (who are also hipsters).
That being said, we should mourn this maligned archetype. A hipster was a very easy pariah: pretentious, badly dressed, iconoclastic, try-hard. They were like your little brother, scratching at the door dying to be noticed and appreciated, but doing little to warrant it. Now it's all a big homogenized fatberg of different idiots, some "trendy," some not, some online, some IRL. As people have become annoying in starkly compartmentalized ways, it's important for us, in the hour of mourning of the hipster, to look to who will deserve our ire in the coming months and years, and see which of their traits work and which don't.
Cutesters are, in a nutshell, adults who pay a little too much attention to their inner child. They are, on the face of it, just boring people. As we all know, infantilization is an epidemic that is sweeping across western culture with no sign of abating. Adults buying coloring books, watching kids TV without having any kids, attending adult preschool, Adventure Time, that cereal cafe in London, "barcades," etc. etc.
It's this sort of laissez-faire attitude to media consumption and activity that means there are grown adults with salaries and bills to pay who hire bouncey castles for their birthdays.
The cutester probably doesn't have a great deal of shelf life outside the Silicon Valley. Thankfully, due to our dog-eat-dog, kill-or-be-killed nature these people will die out soon enough, and hopefully we'll have one less group of smarmy Doctor Who viewers telling us that it's OK to be 25 and own plushie toys of cartoon characters from the 90s.
There was a brief moment when the Health Goth Facebook page emerged where people were asking "is this a real thing?" and the answer is, for the most part, yes. The health goth aesthetic (and it's all about aesthetic) is one of streamlined active-wear. It's about jogging equipment, windbreakers, and running shoes. All black, perhaps with a flash of color, and shiny textures like neoprene and PVC.
But does it have the same relevance as your hipsters and cutesters, i.e. is it representative enough? Well, no, not really. Health goth is just too niche. It doesn't really exist in the consciousness of the consumer. As soon as health goth had a name it became passé, such is the nature of #fashion and #cool. It's fairly likely it will never appeal to a wider audience even as an insult, because it's just too alienating for people not "in the know." We'll leave this one to Tumblrs and gender fluid art majors.
SJW/ MRA / #GamerGaters
Angry-people-on-the-internet are a bit of a leftfield choice as they only seem to exist in a bizarre, myopic community of total self obsession, which in some ways lends itself to the hipster ideology, but in many other ways doesn't.
Sure, to the opposite sides both represent the cultural pariahs without whom the world would be a much better place. But to your moderates, your Disqus commenters, they're both just hardliners bleating their incomprehensible and impenetrable nonsense into the wispy wind. Does anyone outside of the Internet actually care about anything these fucking guys are saying? With hipsters there's tangibility, there are funny outfits, there's an artistic output to consume.
These pricks are just supercilious, narcissistic, mean-spirited dilweeds who refuse to look their tawdry existence in the eye. They're not so much a cultural craze, more a confused symptom of a horrendously open world in which nothing is wrong or right or good or bad. Fuck these guys, they don't deserve to be the new hipsters.
The nu-bro has ridden the rocket of alt around the sun, gone where no man has gone before, only to become so advanced that he ended up in the exact same spot that he started out at, with a bonus sense of superiority about liking all the same stuff that everyone else likes. Yes, he's preppy like a Reaganite and watches the NFL every Sunday, but he buys fair-trade Polos and roots for the Seahawks so it's edgier. He listens to Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, but appreciates it in a deeper way than you do. Then he mumbles something about how the best way to subvert the system is by assimilating and dismantling it from within. But also bros. And brews. And that weird beanbag-toss game you play on the lawns of frat houses. And then replacing the "a" key on his laptop because he tweeted "YAAAAAAAS" too hard during Scandal. These people are like cultural tourists for normal-people shit, and they're the worst.
Part of the problem with the hipster was what it represented. These were men and women who could afford to get a tattoo of a mustache on their index finger and not have to worry about job prospects. People for whom dressing shabbily, like a down and out from an episode of Boardwalk Empire, was not an unfortunate necessity, but a privileged choice made by people who could feasibly form a career out of selling expensive alternative milk to idiots.
This has changed, though, and for some, while many of the visual tropes still exist (i.e. looking like a child's idea of a tough sailor) the mentality has changed. The order of the day is entrepreneurship, not layabout-ery. This is where the Yuccies come in, the "young urban creatives" occupying former family homes with other graphic designers and branded content ad men. It's the idea of a more corporate sense of trendiness, where being "cool" is being yourself, even if that means being a representative of every harmful ultra-capitalist trope in existence. An easy, flourished life that doesn't even have the mild self-imposed struggle of the last decade's hipster, where poverty was cool. In its place is a staunchly unapologetic careerism, still matched with the desire to be viewed as on trend, but the trends are now free drinks parties paid for by Nike. It's the deification of the mainstream, ironic or not. Which brings us to…
The moment we reached Peak Hipster was also the moment we reached Peak Irony. Earnests believe that there is enough bad stuff in the world, so the only response is to live genuinely and in the moment, constantly in pursuit of real beauty and experience.
Instagram photos of hikes, #BLESSEDs, juice cleanses, dancing like nobody is watching, sobriety, unabashedly discussing their ambitions, and blogging about their feelings. Their lives are irony-free-zones.
This is not sustainable, of course. Nobody is perfect. Eventually the pressure will become too much and the whole thing will come crashing down, ending with them stabbing someone in a hallucination-fueled rage like Natalie Portman in Black Swan.
So there it is. Instead of having one target to aim our laser topped sniper rifles of scourn at, society now has a cavalcade of different types of objectionable people. They're still preening, they're still self obsessed and narcissistic, willfully ignorant yet claiming a transcendental sense of cultural knowledge, but now all these qualities are spread out and amplified across different types of people.
If you ask me the hipster was a pleasant, meek crystallization of all modern Western culture's ills. Now that they're gone, and have mutated into a hundred different platoons of dickheads, I kind of miss them. Now where's my Sunn o)) record? I'm off to DJ at the opening of a shop that only sells wicker baskets.
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