Thursday, October 28, 2010

New York Magazine taxidermizes the hipster

I've been known to fulminate about hipsters in these pages from time to time. Or link to other writers' more eloquent fulminations. But of course I realize that my scorn for the type partially arises from jealousy - I was never as cool as that, even in my prime - and partially stems from a frustrated ignorance - I am Mr. Jones, and I don't know entirely what's going on there. I thought I could intuit it, and I disliked what I intuited, but kind of also hated myself for judging so harshly, but kind of also took that self-hatred out on the hipsters... (None of which means that hipsters aren't a plague on our cities: just that the whole hipster-baiting thing is kind of a waste of energy, and I regret it. As Hunter wrote, "ain't no time to hate.")

Mark Greif has a long (five clicks!) article on New York Magazine's website right now called "What Was the Hipster?" It's kind of humorous, what with the artifacts-under-glass tone and all - it's not devoid of hipster room-full-of-mirrors irony itself - but I think it's a fundamentally serious attempt to understand this subculture as a subculture. It's a fascinating read, but what I want to know is, is it accurate? It squares with what little I know about the evolution of oppositional and elite-consumerist youth cultures over the last twenty years; and it seems to account convincingly for the most readily observable features of the hipster's behavior. But maybe I'm just happy because it tends to confirm my preconceptions.

It's really worth a read.

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