Monday, 14 November 2011

Hating Hipsters

Mark Greif, a New York English professor and one of the book's chief editors traces this hipster's recent history back to the post-punk DIY movement of the 80s.
"Back then there was this insistence on something like an alternative to capitalism," says Greif, "an opposition to major labels and pop; you could make your album on a small unknown label and it would only be sold for cheap. Youth culture had this quite hopeful notion that it was possible to make your own art and distribute it, in order to evade this wider commercial sphere." By the early 90s, these ideals had foundered; grunge bands signed to major labels and Kurt Cobain had killed himself.
"What is meaningful about the hipster moment, 1999 and after," says Greif from his office in New York, "is that it seems to be an effort to live a life that retains the coolness in believing that you belong to a counter-culture, where the substance of the rebellion has become pro-commerce."
Instead of "doing art" the cool kids were now, in Greif's words "doing products".
"In the 50s and 60s, there are five people at the centre working very hard, miserably trying to write a book and around them there are 95 people more or less having fun," Greif explains. "In the hipster culture the people at that centre aren't necessarily producing art, they're actually working in advertising, marketing and product placement. These were once embarrassing jobs. Now it's meaningful in this world to say that you sell sneakers, at a high level."
This article in today's guardian offers many different theories as to why the 'hipster' is such a hated figure on blogs and media today, but for me, the above really pins down why I find today's 'hipster culture' so depressing: its uncreative. One of my boyfriend's favourite pass-times is reading this blog, Louderthansilence, and chuckling at these desperate characters. Its probably a bit mean (and self-righteous), but they encapsulate how bloody boring supposed 'trendy' culture is and how willing it is to dumbly support whatever product or 'red berry tea' is currently being marketed at them.

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