The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Friday, August 1, 2008


And other forms of cool.

From the pages of Adbusters:

Culture maven Paolo hips me to this piece on hipsters:

An artificial appropriation of different styles from different eras, the hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture lost in the superficiality of its past and unable to create any new meaning. Not only is it unsustainable, it is suicidal. While previous youth movements have challenged the dysfunction and decadence of their elders, today we have the “hipster” – a youth subculture that mirrors the doomed shallowness of mainstream society.

Take a stroll down the street in any major North American or European city and you’ll be sure to see a speckle of fashion-conscious twentysomethings hanging about and sporting a number of predictable stylistic trademarks: skinny jeans, cotton spandex leggings, fixed-gear bikes, vintage flannel, fake eyeglasses and a keffiyeh – initially sported by Jewish students and Western protesters to express solidarity with Palestinians, the keffiyeh has become a completely meaningless hipster cliché fashion accessory.

The American Apparel V-neck shirt, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and Parliament cigarettes are symbols and icons of working or revolutionary classes that have been appropriated by hipsterdom and drained of meaning. Ten years ago, a man wearing a plain V-neck tee and drinking a Pabst would never be accused of being a trend-follower. But in 2008, such things have become shameless clichés of a class of individuals that seek to escape their own wealth and privilege by immersing themselves in the aesthetic of the working class.

Lovers of apathy and irony, hipsters are connected through a global network of blogs and shops that push forth a global vision of fashion-informed aesthetics. Loosely associated with some form of creative output, they attend art parties, take lo-fi pictures with analog cameras, ride their bikes to night clubs and sweat it up at nouveau disco-coke parties. The hipster tends to religiously blog about their daily exploits, usually while leafing through generation-defining magazines like Vice, Another Magazine and Wallpaper. This cursory and stylized lifestyle has made the hipster almost universally loathed.

“These hipster zombies are the idols of the style pages, the darlings of viral marketers and the marks of predatory real-estate agents,” wrote Christian Lorentzen in a Time Out New York article entitled ‘Why the Hipster Must Die.’ “And they must be buried for cool to be reborn.”

Not everyone is critical. In the article this person defended the hipster thusly:

Gavin McInnes, one of the founders of Vice, who recently left the magazine, is considered to be one of hipsterdom’s primary architects. But, in contrast to the majority of concerned media-types, McInnes, whose “Dos and Don’ts” commentary defined the rules of hipster fashion for over a decade, is more critical of those doing the criticizing.

“I’ve always found that word [“hipster”] is used with such disdain, like it’s always used by chubby bloggers who aren’t getting laid anymore and are bored, and they’re just so mad at these young kids for going out and getting wasted and having fun and being fashionable,” he says. “I’m dubious of these hypotheses because they always smell of an agenda.”

Oh well, this is all pretty academic to me because I'm too old to be hip, meaning I'll just have to be me.

This is a poem Ken Kesey wrote about being cool.

Getting There From Here
~by Ken Kesey ~


We are very cool.
How did we get so cool????
Maybe its time to be less cool.
Now theres a possibility to sink your teeth into.

Less cool.

A little humility, a bit of morality, some sense of our own limitations.
Plant something in the ground and discover the power of the elements.
Try to move something alone that weighs more than you do.
Then ask somebody else to help.

Show surprise when you are surprised, laugh when its funny,
Cry when its sad, we havent done that in years.
We're too cool.
We're pragmatic.

State Departments are pragmatic and Departments of Defense.
But Constitutions are idealistic.
I think Im going to become an idealist again.
To hell with pragmatism that works.

It has no soul.

These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper,
but minds alive upon the shelves.

At UMass a fence has gone up around Bartlett Hall while they are replacing the roof. Whenever they do anything of a construction nature at UMass they put up those "New Dirt" signs. It seems sorta inappropriate though when putting on a new roof.

This new sign at the UMass Newman Center may or may not bring in visitors, but it has instantly found use as a place for people to lock their bikes.

What mean person wrote this on a mailbox in Northampton?


Mary E.Carey said...

I guess that's one of the consolations of getting old -- that we can't be accused of trying to keep up with the latest young person's fad. It's fun reading Paolo's take on it all.

Anonymous said...

You have to appreciate the fact that the deepest sourced rebuttal is, in brief, "lol fat internet virgin".

paolo mastrangelo said...

"It's fun reading Paolo's take on it all."

My take? whatta mean? my rants at Northamptonist? Cause I haven't given a take yet, or have I?

Anyways, it took me a lot not to, like, post this link somewhere and comment on it, but i had to note it somewhere, so I slipped it in my Twitter. And I guess Tommy spied it, and so im here, I guess i'll say something.

Firstly, Hipster is a term that many think only has to do with style, but that is not an accurate definition. Its not just about style.

Hipster as a term is class based, and you can find reference for proper use of it that way, for instance, recently noted that hipster was "an epithet used by the unimaginative towards affluent 20-somethings"

So not anyone wearing flannel, smoking parliaments, and old jeans is a hipster. some douche who came from belmont wearing flannel, smoking parliaments, and wearing old jeans, is a hipster..."shameless clichés of a class of individuals that seek to escape their own wealth and privilege by immersing themselves in the aesthetic of the working class."

But def, the worst offenders, and those who are the targets of most scorn, are those "Loosely associated with some form of creative output, they attend art parties, take lo-fi pictures with analog cameras, ride their bikes to night clubs and sweat it up at nouveau disco-coke parties."

Those are the worst because not only are they purposely reclaiming class based icons and fashions, but they then celebrate it.

(what letters do you use when you make that blahghghhh sound, to note your disdain at something? like your choking on your tongue? cause thats what Im doing.)

All of this would be ok, as a matter of fact, it has been for ever. This has always been going on in some fashion, and it was always pretty ok. Recently though, like maybe in the past ten years or so, things have changed. And the author of this article really nails the reason for that when he say that hipsters "are the marks of predatory real-estate agents"

So to recap, they skew class lines , reclaim class and cultural icons that dont belong to them, ('member those palestinian scarves they were all wearing last year?)and then skew the housing market by gladly overpaying for rental units.

And that is never funny, actually it hurts, and is sad.

Like that bee-gees song, "I started a joke, which started the whole world crying, but I didn't see that the joke was on me, oh no."

Mary E.Carey said...

Paolo's analysis is fascinating and Paolo, your blog -- as Tom intuited immediately -- is fantastic. By "fun," I guess I mean exhilarating -- less than amusing.