More on Hipsters

Posted by on 23.05.2009 in culture

I’m glad I got more to keep the hipster topic going because it’s way more fun than anything else I blog about. 

Richard Florida points to a familiar article about “blipsters” — “black hipsters.” Which is funny, now that I think of it, because the original hipsters were known as [correction: I meant, later known as] “white negroes”:

Later periods of hip convergence include the 1910’s and 20’s, when the radical bohemians of Greenwich Village and the renaissancers of Harlem fed off each other’s energy, and the midcentury heyday of Beat and bebop, two outsider movements that set the stage for the huge (albeit unhip) counterculture juggernaut of the 1960’s. (Norman Mailer’s famous essay from the height of Beat-bebop convergence, ”The White Negro: Superficial Reflections on the Hipster,” was essentially a sketch for ”Hip: The History,” and is duly mentioned in the introduction.) [David Kamp, NY Times: 2004]

Anyways, Florida excerpted from this amazing post by Carl Wilson (he of the famous Céline Dion book that is actually cool, and whose blog feed I very promptly added to my Reader after this late discovery). Wilson’s central insight that

those who point fingers at “hipsters” are almost by definition “hipsters” themselves… The hipster is a projection of the hipster-hater’s own status anxiety. There’s also a self-serving decadence narrative where the hipster serves as the negative exaggeration of one’s own apathy, helping to exonerate it. The hipster serves as a locus for fears of lost control, of social disconnection. Yet it’s a hysteria to focus that anxiety on these kids personally rather than on, say, the system of cool and cultural capital, and what’s more the genuine lack of control you have over hypercapitalism, of which their look uncomfortably reminds you. The hipster-monster is the face of a cultural death wish, along the vector of a snarling circle jerk hurtling towards social atomization and collapse.

I can’t decipher that last sentence but I left it in hoping someone would figure it out.