Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hip Ster

"Now, one mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behavior has come to define the generally indefinable idea of the “Hipster."

Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization - Douglas Haddow / Adbusters

In this Adbusters essay Haddow argues Western culture has reached a point of self-obsessed aesthetic vacuum. He hits on some things that really turn me off about some of the scenes I happen across. I can't really say it's just hipsters, but I notice a tendency to plunder past movements without finding future meaning, and a phenomenal obsession with fashion and the self.

Escapism is fun, but this is a very lazy form that sucks meaning out of past icons.

It's not all innocent fun either, the obsession with the self is spoiling it of that. If it were innocent people could still wear a checkered scarf and have it mean something, someone could push a movement or style forward without it being adopted and sucked dry of meaning and sold back to the crowd hungry to experience the revolution.

It seems so noncommittal.

Back to the article though, it's Haddow's last statement that really gets me.


We are a lost generation, desperately clinging to anything that feels real, but too afraid to become it ourselves. We are a defeated generation, resigned to the hypocrisy of those before us, who once sang songs of rebellion and now sell them back to us. We are the last generation, a culmination of all previous things, destroyed by the vapidity that surrounds us. The hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture so detached and disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new.

Haddow is both wrong and right here. They (we) are not a defeated generation, merely defeatist, committed to reinforcing the hipocrisy that came before in some vain pursuit of finding meaning without having to actually make any.

There are real people among this generation - the activists calling for change, the artists creating meaningful work, the journalists covering more than street fashion and afterpartys. The problem is that the aimless masses that grew up with participation points for just being there are killing it out there for the people killing it out there.


Where he's right is in saying our culture is so detached it's on the verge of collapse. I don't think we'll literally fall apart, but all meaning other than self-centered escape will dissapear.
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2 comments:

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