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The Problem With Hipsters…

// Posted by on 04/18/2014 (11:23 AM)

Haddow’s criticism of “hipsterdom” seems a bit unfounded to me. He complains that hipsters contribute no real cultural developments because they are too concerned with consuming what is “cool,” and borrowing most of their trends from previous generations, without ever… Read more

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Haddow’s criticism of “hipsterdom” seems a bit unfounded to me. He complains that hipsters contribute no real cultural developments because they are too concerned with consuming what is “cool,” and borrowing most of their trends from previous generations, without ever really fully committing to the culture.

I feel like this state of culture is less a reflection of the motives of people, and more of a reflection of culture itself. Being in a modern society with such expansive and constant access to technology, it can be difficult for extreme cultural phenomena to gain steady footing. The internet provides such widespread access to all types of music, movies, television shows, literature, or any other form of consumable culture that these things are more likely to garner a smaller, yet intensely passionate following than a recognizable cultural impact. This may still have something to do with Haddow’s idea that hipsters are “too afraid to become it [culture] ourselves,” and are unable to commit; or it might have something to do with the shortened attention span that is often attributed as a symptom of technology; but no matter the reasoning, I think Haddow would be more accurate to criticize the culture itself, not the people who consume the culture.

That being said, Haddow seems to lump together the idea of change in general, with the idea of cultural developments. Shifts in culture are not the only changes we should be concerned with. While people like Haddow may think the hipster generation is lazy when it comes to culture, this has no bearing on their capability for social progress. Just because there might not be a strong shift or innovation within popular culture doesn’t mean there are no dynamic shifts in society in general. An article by Zeynep Tufekci sites “Indignados” in Spain, “Occupy” in the United States, Tahrir Square in Egypt, Syntagma Square in Greece, Gezi Park in Turkey and #Euromaidan in Ukraine as recent social movements that all stem from the use of modern technology as a means of coordination.

Tufekci’s article does go on to criticize the use of social media in social movements, though:

“However, this lowering of coordination costs, a fact generally considered to empower protest mobilizations, may have the seemingly paradoxical effect of contributing to political weakness in the latter stages, by allowing movements to grow without building needed structures and strengths, including capacities for negotiation, representation, and mobilization. Movements may grow quickly beyond their developed organizational capacity, a weakness that becomes critical as soon as a form of action other than street protests or occupation of a public space becomes relevant.”

http://dmlcentral.net/blog/zeynep-tufekci/capabilities-movements-and-affordances-digital-media-paradoxes-empowerment

Again, this could be contributed to the negative attributes of hipsters, Haddow’s idea that they cannot commit fully to anything beyond the cultural flavor of the week. But it could also be a flaw within social media and internet society as a whole.

Either way, I think the hate of hipsters in general is unwarranted. The arguments made against them are so focused on what hipsters consume on a cultural level, yet give little thought to what they are capable of producing on a greater social level, which seems like a very narrow perspective on their potential.


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Look at This F*in’ Hipster

// Posted by on 04/09/2014 (1:32 PM)

Can we stop demonizing hipsters?

I’ll admit it: I used to obsessively check up on LATFH to see what ridiculous things made it on there.  Also, Stuff White People Like, which might as well be renamed “Stuff Hipsters Like.”

Yes,… Read more

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Can we stop demonizing hipsters?

I’ll admit it: I used to obsessively check up on LATFH to see what ridiculous things made it on there.  Also, Stuff White People Like, which might as well be renamed “Stuff Hipsters Like.”

Yes, I love to laugh at hipsters, particularly the ones so driven to self-indulgent but self-conscious irony by a sheer need to be so uncool it becomes cool… but seriously…”the end of Western civilization”?!  That’s what we’re calling them?  At least that’s what Douglas Haddow at Adbusters called them (https://www.adbusters.org/magazine/79/hipster.html).  And Rushkoff, in his book Present Shock argues that hipsters are incapable of creating new culture and thus must inauthentically bum cultural artifacts off of previous generations and nostalgia.  New York Magazine proudly proclaimed the death of the hipster in 2010 (http://nymag.com/news/features/69129/).

As for other Millenials, most find hipsters just plain annoying.  It takes a lot of effort to look like you care that little.

You know what I think?  I think hipsters are awesome (okay, maybe lose the awkward ’70s porno mustache, because it’s really freaking me out).

We’re not the first generation to take on the cultural artifacts of our predecessors: music, language, literature…these all get absorbed into future generations without those generations being seen as inauthentic thieves of previous culture.  And we’re certainly not the first generation nostalgic for previous eras.  Warren Harding ran his presidential campaign on the concept of a “return to normalcy”…in the 1920s.  What he was preaching was a return to late 19th-century life and ideals in the aftermath of the first World War.  We’re not talking about the end of time here…we’re talking about the next step in a progression.

And hipsters fit into that scheme, just like the rest of Millenials.  But as a generation, Millenials have been told that we’re antisocial, incapable of communicating (texting will be the downfall of the English language as we know it!), selfish, vain, entitled.  And you can react to that in different ways: you can fight it, like many bloggers or writers in our generation have done.  You can accept it.  Or you can choose not to care about what society says your generation is.  That’s the route the hipsters have taken, a route that prizes irony because irony provides distance.  You can’t be judged for the things you don’t care about.


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