If you have been associated with “youth culture” well into your late 30s you are probably used to getting calls from journalists writing features with names like “Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization.”
If you have been associated with “youth culture” well into your late 30s you are probably used to getting calls from journalists writing features with names like Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization.
You may have noticed these titles sound eerily similar to Arthur Herman’s neutron bomb of a book The Idea of Decline in Western History where he proves that people have ALWAYS been bitching about how bad things are getting and WILL ALWAYS glorify their youth as the salad days of the scene. That’s why I hate when people hipster-bash. It’s not because I invented hipsters or because they’ve been my bread and butter for 15 years. It’s because people sound like such bitter, old, unlaid, fat, ugly, lonely, grumpy losers when they say, “I hate hipsters.” It’s the same as saying, “I hate fashionable people who are younger than me.” Why?
Well, the first reason is, journalists doing pieces like this are usually getting closer to 30 and they see this new generation of kids as worthless young upstarts who don’t care about stuff as much as they should. This is a natural part of getting older. Seniors will always hate sophomores. That’s why there’s wedgies. The problem arises when you try to categorically prove this generation sucks and you were the real deal. Sorry, but your youth was not that special.
It’s not that they made the best records when you were 18, it’s that you bought the most records when you were that age. That’s why janitors have rockabilly hairdos and big sideburns. As far as they’re concerned, it should be 1958 forever.
Journalists who interview me always bring up punk as the definitive example of how the kids today are sellouts. There’s not “more commercial punk.” There’s more EVERYTHING. That means more political punk, more disco punk, more free punk, you name it. There’s more fucking Mexican punks! Today we have emos rioting in the streets with chaos punks in Mexico City. When I was a kid there were three punks in Mexico and they all knew each other.
It’s not commercialization it’s MOREilization and that’s a good thing. When I was your age I used to take the 132 bus from the suburbs to get to Shake Records downtown. Then I’d spend $14.99 on any import that looked remotely punk. Then I’d be broke. Today I can pay $10 a month for satellite radio and have endless music anywhere I go, or listen to my own Pandora stations on my phone, or sit on Frostwire all day getting music for free. Why do journalists always assume I’m going to say punk is dead and it’s a great example of why youth culture is dead?
Don’t get me wrong, there’s still such a thing as Selling Out. Basically, if you find yourself changing lyrics or jokes or beliefs because they are going to bite the hand that feeds you, you are selling out. If big business affects content then you could bandy around the word commercialized. But that’s not always the case. When Hüsker Dü and the Clash signed to majors the labels didn’t tell them to do shit. Big business is OFTEN bad but not always. I don’t like the idea of WalMart crushing local hardware stores and I’m still scared of globalism and all that but to assume a few capitalist down sides have ruined everything we hold dear is apocalyptic claptrap.
Yes there are a lot of Starbucks out there. There’s also way more mom & pop coffee places than there have ever been and that’s thanks to Starbucks. They invented the idea of people going somewhere special for a coffee on the way to work. More big business doesn’t necessarily mean less small business.
For example, whenever anyone talks about the Internet being doomed, they use radio stations in the 50s as an example. They say radio used to be totally independent but soon the major broadcasters owned 97% of the stations out there. That’s true but it doesn’t mean there was less independent radio. If there were say, 3 radio stations in your town and they were all owned privately then radio was 100% private. If big business came in and added 97 stations to the mix, radio is now 97% corporate. There’s still the same amount of independent stations, 3. Only now there’s 97 others which most likely means there’s going to be more independent stations, not less. Today anyone near a computer can start their own radio station.
The mathematical explanation for this huge surge of memes is called an asymptote. There is more information available to us this year than all of history combined. And that number keeps climbing exponentially. Journalists can complain about “the death of the underground” all they want but there’s actually more underground. There’s more fucking everything! You can romanticize clamoring for mix tapes all you want. I was there. It sucked. Today you can check out a thousand people’s mix tapes on LastFM and pick and choose at will.
None of this matters of course. Hipsters aren’t paying attention to these debates. The same way Canadians bitch about Americans while Americans don’t even know where Canada is, hipsters are too busy fucking and going to parties to worry if out-of-touch people resent them for not being political.
Occasionally I get paid good money to sit on a panel and privately tell a corporation what is “cool.” It is the gayest thing in the universe but it’s fun if you get drunk and they pay you like, $500 an hour. I did it for Rolling Stone once and the panel was a strange mishmash of record execs, magazine editors, and, of all people, Handsome Dick Manitoba. During the discussion some British baby boomer that knew David Bowie went off about “the kids today” and said they don’t believe in anything anymore. He talked about the mods fighting the rockers on the beaches of Brighton when he was a kid and “Why don’t the kids today do shit like that anymore?” As with all things Youth Culture, you always end up saying more about yourself than the millions of twentysomethings you’re talking about. What he meant was HE was not involved in any of this shit anymore and therefore it must not be happening. The fact that anarcho punks had recently almost shut down the WTO didn’t make it on to his radar.
Here’s the one quote from the AdBusters article that made it in:
“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. 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.’”
-From “Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization”
The agenda I’m referring to is: “The kids today don’t got no respect.” This sounds like something Archie Bunker would say or, more specifically, that sad, old fuck from Nathan Barley.
Shitting on people younger than you is not rocket science. It’s an innate gene in all of us. Just know that when you do it you sound like every other bitter, old person out there and it’s so transparent it’s making the rest of us old people cringe.
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