Christian Lorentzen of Time Out New York argues that “hipsterism fetishizes the authentic” elements of all of the “fringe movements of the postwar era—Beat, hippie, punk, even grunge”, and draws on the “cultural stores of every unmelted ethnicity” and “gay style,” and then “regurgitates it with a winking inauthenticity.” He claims that this group of “18-to-34-year-olds,” who are mostly white, “have defanged, skinned and consumed” all of these influences.Lorentzen says hipsters, “in their present undead incarnation,” are “essentially people who think of themselves as being cooler than America,” also referring to them as “the assassins of cool.” He argues that metrosexuality is the hipster appropriation of gay culture, as a trait carried over from their “Emo” phase. He writes that “these aesthetics are assimilatedcannibalizedinto a repertoire of meaninglessness, from which the hipster can construct an identity in the manner of a collage, or a shuffled playlist on an iPod.” He also criticizes how the subculture’s original menace has long been abandoned and has been replaced with “the form of not-quite-passive aggression called snark.”

In a Huffington Post article entitled “Who’s a Hipster?”, Julia Plevin argues that the “definition of ‘hipster’ remains opaque to anyone outside this self-proclaiming, highly-selective circle”. She claims that the “whole point of hipsters is that they avoid labels and being labeled. However, they all dress the same and act the same and conform in their non-conformity” to an “iconic carefully created sloppy vintage look”.

Rob Horning developed a critique of hipsterism in his April 2009 article “The Death of the Hipster” in PopMatters, exploring several possible definitions for the hipster. He muses that the hipster might be the “embodiment of postmodernism as a spent force, revealing what happens when pastiche and irony exhaust themselves as aesthetics”, or might be “a kind of permanent cultural middleman in hypermediated late capitalism, selling out alternative sources of social power developed by outsider groups, just as the original ‘white negros’ evinced by Norman Mailer did to the original, pre-pejorative ‘hipsters’blacks”. Horning also proposed that the role of hipsters may be to “appropriat[e] the new cultural capital forms, delivering them to mainstream media in a commercial form and stripping their inventors … of the power and the glory”. Horning argues that the “problem with hipsters” is the “way in which they reduce the particularity of anything you might be curious about or invested in into the same dreary common denominator of how ‘cool’ it is perceived to be”, as “just another signifier of personal identity”. Furthermore, he argues that the “hipster is defined by a lack of authenticity, by a sense of lateness to the scene” or the way that they transform the situation into a “self-conscious scene, something others can scrutinize and exploit”.

source: wikipedia

2 thoughts on “The dying hipsters

  1. Do you self-identify as hipster, Erdman? I’ve not studied up on it much, though hipsterism does figure in family conversations from time to time. I get the sense of a nostalgic sentimentalism. PBR, vinyl, vintage. The first album of any band was always the best, before they got popular and sold out. Even the “hipster” label is self-consciously nostalgic. It seems to be a yearning and a lamentation for earlier times that the hipsters themselves never experienced personally. Lana Del Rey.

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    1. I don’t identify as a hipster, but what we generally consider to be “hipster” has so saturated the culture (especially urban culture and def out here on the west coast) that I’m afraid that there are many things about me that fit the bill…..As you can see from the post, the definition of “hipster” is debated, as is the value of “hipsterism” to the culture. A few years back, I met a dude while working seasonal in Alaska (which itself might be considered something a hipster might do). He was a self-identified hipster, and he said that the real definition of a hipster is someone who is truly living outside of the culture, truly alternative, and providing some form of critique of it. (Or at least that was the intent.) As such, when being a “hipster” became something mainstream, then it ceased being truly hipster. Now that hipsterism is mainstream, everyone is living outside of the culture and everyone is alternative. (It’s perhaps an irony worthy of hispterism.) The problem, of course, is that everyone kind of seems to be doing it in the same way.

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