This article just seriously depressed me and at the same time affirmed my life choices. It’s about hipsters and how they represent the end of Western Civilization as we know it. It reminds me of a lot of things, the first of which is that line from my favorite movie of all time, You’ve Got Mail. (Don’t judge, it makes me happy.) Joe Fox is talking about how they are going to open up a Fox Books Superstore in the Upper West Side (full of “those West Side liberal-nut pseudo-intellectuals”) and he is defending their right to be there. He says they’ll hook the West Siders with their cheap books and legal addictive stimulants. Then he says “In the meantime, put up a big sign that says ‘Coming soon: A Fox Books Superstore and the end of Western Civilization as you know it.'”
So this article says that since the “counterculture” of today (hipsters are supposedly our generation’s counterculture, though I don’t know if I agree) is so self-absorbed and derivative of all the previous countercultures there is nowhere to grow and no way to fight the power, so to speak, so we have no hope of ever defeating the things that are keeping us down because hipsters are too busy taking pictures of themselves at parties. This is painfully true of hipsters. Take, for example, my semester spent in Ireland. That was probably the only time I could have been considered a bona fide hipster. I fell in with a crowd of young college students in Dublin who went out almost every night to drink and dance and flirt at any number of hip bars or pubs. On Tuesdays we went to Antics (indie night at Crawdaddy), Saturdays were spent at Whelan’s, and every night in between was spent getting drunk and trying to get your picture taken. Some people were better at it than others. They had more artfully messy hair, their clothes were just right, they were skinny and drunk and handsome and everybody wanted to get with them. I met a guy once who, when I asked him what he did for a living, he said “I’m a socialite.” And I wasn’t appalled by that. What was wrong with me?
The problem with my short career as a hipster was that I could never really do it. I wasn’t quite hip enough. I didn’t have short enough bangs, my clothes weren’t cool enough, I wasn’t self-absorbed enough to make those sullen faces in pictures that get you major hipster points. I also wasn’t rich enough. You have to be pretty rich to pull off hipsterdom. You have to have the latest clothes. I swear to God those people must have bought new clothes every day. I couldn’t keep up. I’m pretty sure the only reason they let me in their group was because I was sarcastic and ironic and exotic with my American accent. And being a little slutty didn’t hurt either.
In summary, I understand the draw of these people. They’re like an advertisement. And I guess that’s what this article is saying, too. They are regurgitating what they see in fashion ads and imagining that they are cutting edge. And to some shmo like me they do kind of pull it off. They seem glamorous. But that part of my life is so definitely over. I have nobody to impress anymore. It’s really nice, actually.
And anyway, I would argue that the idea of a counterculture is outdated. The way my generation is changing things is by forcing their way into the mainstream. Working in Washington to change legislation, starting their own non-profits, or simply by accepting people who used to be outcasts like homosexuals and minorities. Caring about the environment is mainstream, vegetarians are mainstream, gay men and lesbians are mainstream, and a black dude is probably going to be the president. What exactly are we fighting against? We don’t need a counterculture. We need to make sure that the mainstream culture stays on the right track.