Posted by
Gavin
• 10.27.10 01:00 pm


Here’s an article I wrote for my fellow old people about young people.

Here’s an article I wrote for my fellow old people about young people. Old people have always thought “The Kids Today” were a pain in the ass. Only, instead of mumbling it in a bar or as they mow their lawn, they’re now writing cover stories about it. The reason I attend these talks is to tell everyone to shut the fuck up and as Nickelodeon says, “Let kids be kids.” There’s this notion that youth culture is irrelevant if it’s not dripping with liberal activism. I don’t want kids to get into politics. They’re stupid. I want them to stick with what they’re good at, which is basically just fucking. Youth culture is about music and fashion and both are inexorably linked to sex. To provide more analysis than that is to waste brain cells.

Anyway, here’s the piece….

UCLA recently hosted a panel to discuss youth culture and, as “one of hipsterdom’s primary architects,” I was asked to come along. I showed up late for the event wearing nothing but a pair of pants and holding a bottle of beer, treating the whole scene like the cafeteria in Animal House, because that’s both fun and funny. The other panelists were mostly bloggers, magazine publishers and young entrepreneurs employed by the hipster trend. That includes the history professor who used the word “Negrification” with a straight face.

For those of you old fogies still perplexed by the term, a “hipster” is a young person (between the ages of 18-25) with an enthusiasm for contemporary alternative pop culture, primarily music and fashion. They wear over-sized glasses with brightly colored frames, tight pants, neon “ironic” T-shirts and Chuck Taylors.Their musical tastes run the gamut; so do their ethnic and social backgrounds. Oh yeah, and they read Vice magazine and Street Carnage, both of which came out of my head.

The most common misconception about these kids is they are trust-fund posers who buy what they’re told and shamelessly steal both black and white working-class culture. These patronizing criticisms almost always come from the previous generation who are mad at the world for letting them age and are desperate to prove that today, youth is more wasted on the young than ever before. I’ve been accused of defending hipsters because they made me rich, but the real reason I never turn down an opportunity to speak at these events is I love exposing this transparent gripe for what it is: sour grapes. The kids are all right.

“But what about their legacy?” I was recently asked by New York magazine. “What will they have left behind after it’s all said and done?” This question gets on my nerves. “Music and fashion,” I answered incredulously. Since when are young people responsible for leaving us with anything more? Have you heard their politics? I don’t want these people voting. I want them doing what they do best: Fun. The greasers were about rock ’n’ roll and making out in rumble seats. The beatniks gave us some good books, but they were mostly about shocking their parents by dancing with Negroes. The only thing the mods cared about outside of dancing and getting laid was fighting Elvis fans. Boomers, who are masters at glorifying their past, insist they stopped a war, but we all know it was Kissinger’s relentless bombing that ended it. Hippies were horny stoners. Though I was one of them, I’m happy to admit punks were more preening peacocks with guitars than anarchists smashing the state. Rap evolved from parties in the South Bronx. The list goes on, and it’s always just teenagers partying.

There are two things that make the hipster subculture unique. One: They’re better than their predecessors. Two: Everyone says they’re worse.

“Die Hipster Scum” is a common sticker and T-shirt here in New York. Time Out magazine had a cover story called “Why the Hipster Must Die” and Gawker has campaigned to end the trend entirely. Last year, a magazine called n+1 held a panel condemning hipsterdom as “white power” because it is somehow inexorably linked to gentrification.

The first question moderator Christian Lorentzen asked the UCLA panel was, “Why do they hate us?” I found this particularly ironic because he was the one who wrote the Time Out feature. I confronted him about this, and he said he did it for the paycheck and didn’t believe what he wrote. I told him the question should be, “Why do YOU hate us?” but went on to explain what’s really going on.

Now that being a teenager is permissible well into one’s 40s, you have old people within the youth-culture scene bitching about “the kids today.” Imagine Clint Eastwood’s character from Gran Torino if he was still at the club. “This goddamned kid calls himself a DJ?” he’d ask with a PBR in his hand and a trucker hat to hide his bald spot. “He doesn’t even know how to beatmix, for chrissakes. It’s just a pile of fucking MP3s.” The old will always see the young as naive and arrogant—they are. The only difference today is the old person is writing about nightlife for a twenty-something zine instead of worrying about his mortgage and winterizing his lawn (which is coming up soon, guys—I’d recommend at least four bags of lime if you’re around evergreens).

Everyone else on the panel handled the question similarly and the consensus seemed to be that hipster-bashing is lame. “It’s like when an old Brooklyn goombah calls someone a ‘pretty boy,’” I said to the crowd. “He’s calling the guy attractive and young. Insults like that say a lot more about the insulter than the insultee.”

There were a lot more laughs than political discourse, but one statement made me blow a gasket. Professor Mary Corey was discussing the history of cool. She had it right for the most part. It began in the mid-50s with movies such as The Wild One and Rebel Without a Cause. Marlon Brando put the motorcycle-riding WWII vets on the map, and then James Dean defined teenagers as an independent demographic with its own set of rules. Since then, we’ve had these ten-year blips of subcultures where kids invent new music and fashion, and have a great time sowing their wild oats.

The anger began when Corey brought up Normal Mailer’s essay “The White Negro,” where he talks about cool culture pre-40s as white people mimicking blacks, but I became enraged when Corey twisted it into a smug attack on the “bourgeoisie” and how youth culture was always about ripping off the poor. I interrupted her by asking if there was anything more bourgeois than being a professor—being paid to pontificate about leisure movements and then taking off every seventh year to go ruminate in Paris. Hearing today’s kids called mindless consumers drives me nuts. They get their clothes at secondhand shops, and the ones they do buy have fewer logos than when I was their age. They don’t buy music. They steal it. They can create their own band out of nothing by mixing samples and genres and new instruments, and they get these songs to their fans without a record label. They’re not stealing anything from blacks. They are black. Mailer’s essay is a half-century old, and today’s incarnation of cool is more inclusive than any before it. We all know how misogynist the hippies really were. The Free Love movement was only a groovy way to take advantage of women. Punk pretended to be open to everyone, but an Afro Mohawk was about as common as a well-respected white rapper. Today’s kids couldn’t care less who’s black, gay, rich or poor.

“Which brings me to my next point,” I said, “Where did this theory begin that hipsters are all rich posers?” I’ve met thousands of them over the years and have yet to meet a soul who lives off a trust fund. (I’ve met plenty of trust-fund kids, but they’re more into being fabulous in Monaco than going to see a punk band.) They have the same amount of money young people have always had: barely any. They don’t drink Pabst because they’re trying to appropriate working-class culture. They’re drinking it because it’s cheap. They drive track bikes because they don’t get stolen. They listen to iPods because it’s the most musical bang for your buck. When you look into modern youth culture and examine all the criticisms, one truth becomes impossible to ignore: Today’s kids are the best. They are savvier, better connected, more informed, less consumerist and more capable of everything—including partying—than my generation or yours. Believe me, cassette tapes were a fucking pain in the ass.

We like to pretend things are getting worse and our entire civilization is on the verge of collapse, but the opposite is true. We’ve never been wealthier. Food’s never been cheaper or more abundant. Water’s never been cleaner. The air’s the least polluted it’s been in 100 years. We’ve never lived longer. It only makes sense that cool would follow suit. Instead of griping about it and trying to find ways to rain on their parade, it’s time academics and culture critics stood aside and let the kids have some fun. Being cool has never been cooler, and if you think their shirts are too loud, you’re too old.

-GAVIN McINNES

UPDATE: The retarded notion that the whole Hipster thing is rooted in some kind of racism is gaining traction. Most notably in this ridiculous New York Mag piece. After the UCLA talk, I asked the N+1 guy what the fuck that’s all about and he said it had something to do with gentrification. Then he added that the result of their debate last year was there WASN’T a link and “Besides, the whole thing was a joke anyway.” Which is precisely what I’m screaming.

For the record, I think NY Media hates hipsters because these journalists are predominantly nerds and nerds hate any kind of “cool culture” because it makes them feel left out. Next time you read an article about how evil and irrelevant cool people are, Google image the author.


Comments
  1. lb says:

    excellent

  2. Brock Samson says:

    I’m 26. So I’m obviously not a hipster.

  3. Anonymous says:

    this is really good:

    “We all know how misogynist the hippies really were. The Free Love movement was only a groovy way to take advantage of women.”

    you should take it further.

  4. Anonymous says:

    the only thing irritating about today’s cool kids is how conformist they are, but that’s always been the case with most “anti”s.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This is really good. I’m not sure I buy your claim that we’ve never been wealthier though. Maybe you could link to some facts about that?

  6. Internet Arnie says:

    THe middle class is disappearing – into the upper class

    http://austrianeconomists.typepad.com/weblog/2009/08/more-evidence-that-were-all-getting-richer.html

    when people tell me the world’s going to hell in a hand bag I always say the same thing – then why is life expectancy going up?

  7. Zippy says:

    I read “negrification” and felt left behind in that I didn’t work on getting more of a tan this summer.

  8. Archie Bunker says:

    the two pictured above look like 8 year olds who dressed themselves. hipsters don’t annoy me any more than the 90’s hip hop kids with their pants half off their ass or the 80’s stoner metal heads.

  9. Leave a Reply says:

    Fantastic.

    “We all know how misogynist the hippies really were. The Free Love movement was only a groovy way to take advantage of women.”

    Seriously, could you please expand on this. It’s about time someone blew the myth of the 60’s apart

  10. DeadSerious says:

    Why am I extremely attracted to her socks and shoes?

  11. julie l. says:

    there are so many groups of (by their definition) “hipsters” out there actually working towards social change. wonder if this author ever met activists from portland or kids living in a punk/queer house? this article called young people in the 70’s “horny stoners”. really? what about vietnam war protesters? this article insults my intelligence and makes me wanna barf!

  12. Dick Smuggler says:

    As another liberal turned libertarian, Gen-Xer… this is all pretty much exactly true

  13. Red says:

    Here’s an apology piece from the guy who wrote The Hipsters Must Die article for Time Out

    http://thoughtcatalog.com/2010/the-hipster-never-was-after-charles-bernstein/

  14. Steve Dave says:

    You’re on your heels, Gavin.

  15. no.thanks. says:

    i swear that ninjasonik dude is either as old as I am or older. no way he’s under 40.

  16. Futbol y Playa says:

    muy bueno, galvón

  17. Drippy dog dix and cum bubbles or something says:

    Ninjasonik dude is somewhere close to 30, he went to college with someone I know. Crazy what passes for kids these days…

  18. race is dead says:

    The only people who truly give a shit about race anymore are self-important faggots (especially those above the age of 30) and hate filled poor folk.

    Young people just don’t care about that bullshit, and (because they don’t) the “enlightened” segment of the older generations lament their obsolescence through acting out and crying about race.

  19. Eine Kleine Arsemusik says:

    Let’s see: supposedly stodgy academic accuses today’s youth of dilettantism; supposed spokesman for said youth cuts said academic off with ad hominem attack; everyone agrees in the end that hating is lame, but haters gonna hate. Sounds like this was exciting and full of surprises for all who came!

  20. supposed spokesman for said youth says:

    Hon, where’s the diaper bag?

  21. yup, pretty much nail-on-head-hitting action here. so nice to see common sense & truth rather resentment & ego come out on top when considering this issue.

  22. Archie Bunker says:

    you’re all meatheads

  23. Gnarles in Charge says:

    I just Google imaged the author of this article. Yikes.

  24. qq says:

    Awesome piece
    Had to be said
    Gracias.

  25. luke says:

    how it is.

  26. mr.meat says:

    Did you write this before or after the tape on the shoe incident?

  27. Taeil says:

    You wanna define hipster? Here.

    Anti-populist art fag of various rock and roll subcultures. There. We’re done.

  28. kure kure takora says:

    I made a big dumb post a little while but i’m pretty sure the comments ate it because I linked to hypebeast.

    The crux of Gavin’s Young Hipster Creative Defense is that they’re anti-consumerist and refuse to be marketed to, and create their latest trends…

    Which is a fine idea… If you ignore the fact that places like Vice, THIS ENTIRE WEBSITE, hipsterrunoff, pitchfork, blah blah blah, whatever Hipster cool thing site of the week, is all paid by advertisers/companies/market research teams/etc. Stop pretending like the youth is so original and smart, and that people in suits are so dumb, you old toot. If Hipsters (and I use this term in the broadest Gavin definition) were so unmarketable, so original, and so perfect, Gavin would be in where-ever the fuck Canada pitching marketing ideas to sell Molsen Ice to frat boys.

    You do know that SE bikes and all the other bike companies are completely cashing in on the fixed gear bike craze, right, and it’s moved into its own realm of expensive stupidity, yes? Pabst sponsors pretty much every super sweet fixie bike races around here. If that isn’t targeted marketing, I don’t know what is.

    It’s not that the youth is bad, it’s just that the term is bland and completely undefined. Calling them the best is just masturbatory though.

  29. qq says:

    also re Gawker…….

    used to read that site a bit, but the nail in the coffin (no terrible pun intended) was the way they did that story on the kid who killed himself after getting webcammed and outed by his room mate…… did anyone here see that??

    it was fucking disgusting.

    they all but did a direct link to the poor kid jerking off (anonymously – at the time) on a gay website.

    Such disgustingly bad taste and lack of tact that there.

    Anyone involved in that site should be afuckingshamed.

    Shut that shit down asap.

  30. chikin bone nowison says:

    “Google image the author” yep.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Blah blah blah hipsters blah blah blah blacks blah blah blah gavin mciness

  32. Volta Face x 69 says:

    So now you’re saying that the first post-racial clique/generation/trend, much like some kind of collective Messiah, has risen amongst us? Make up your mind already.

  33. drippy dog dix and cum bubbles or something says:

    You’d think we was spoken ’bout nucular proliferation or sumthin. Shits impo’tant!

  34. dr.d says:

    don’t piss on me and tell me it’s raining

  35. female says:

    I liked this. Made me feel not so bad about all the times I’ve been accused of being a hipster. Ever notice how nobody really identifies as a hipster, it’s just something you call other people who annoy you. Or like weird music. Or have a penchant for bad 80s fashion. (…guilty as charged)

  36. gavin, you seem to be searching for something.

    i found something incredible i would like to share with you. it has changed my life, as of finding it about 6 years ago. this is for my homie in the bronx: whatup calvin. 4 free chapters for print/share by the author’s non-profit publisher you can start reading immediately at:

    http://www.greatwavesofchange.org

    check it out. it will put your outrage and passion for social commentary, true honesty, and contribution to society in perspective i feel. this is my invite to you, to have this experience. hope it resonates with how you really feel.

  37. ew says:

    i’ve always found it really funny how old people are always complaining about how kids today don’t respect what came before them and now that we have a lot of young people exploring and embracing previous subultures’ literature, music, and art and they’re accused of being “un-creative”. what gives?

  38. OLD ones are lame says:

    It’s the aging hipters who seem lamest.
    THe 35 yr old guys who hang out all day in williamsburg and are unsuccessful artist/musician types.
    they seem sad.

  39. onyx blackman says:

    “I’ve met thousands of them (hipsters) over the years and have yet to meet a soul who lives off a trust fund. (I’ve met plenty of trust-fund kids, but they’re more into being fabulous in Monaco than going to see a punk band.)

    ummmm…..isnt one of the guys from cerebral ballzy the son of the guy who owns kinkos or something? and the other guys the son of the dude from black sheep?
    they may not have trust funds- but im sure they have more money than my broke ass and can afford to go on tour- as opposed to a musician who works full/part time and either has to ask for time off to tour (to make shit money playing shit clubs) or save up enough money to quit his shit job so he can go out for 3 weeks playing shit clubs for shit money)

  40. you all like "Fergie" says:

    There are always rich kids who have rich parents who let them have shitty art careers, this has been going on since King Henry II let his shitty son try to play the lute instead of going off to battle or whatever, it doesn’t indict an entire generation.

    This is the ultimate non-issue. I do like the new twist Gavin has added to his general analysis of the situation, which is “who gives a fuck what these kids think?” Pretty spot on. Let the kids think that their music and fashion choices are “important” in some larger context so it keeps them from being like Julie who said

    there are so many groups of (by their definition) “hipsters” out there actually working towards social change. wonder if this author ever met activists from portland or kids living in a punk/queer house? this article called young people in the 70’s “horny stoners”. really? what about vietnam war protesters? this article insults my intelligence and makes me wanna barf!

    Vietnam protesters were a bunch of horny stoners who thought that being all politco was a great way to meet and bang chicks. Also, I sincerely hope the brave people of Portland can manage to turn the tides on that place, because it’s clearly a hotbed of right wing oppression. Trust me honey, Gavin and myself and most of the people who read this site have plenty of experience with the punk/queer house scene. It’s just that we have been around it long enough to see that it never accomplishes any social change, it’s just a fun game for the people involved. It’s also usually about being a horny stoner. Anyone with any experience amongst the protester crowd and who has any sense of intellectual honesty can admit that it’s a big identity cult/party for those involved and has yet to ever help the less fortunate in any way. Thanks a lot G20 protesters, you smashed the windows of a ton of small family owned businesses (many owned by immigrant families) and then went and got drunk on 40’s and fucked each other. You don’t give a fuck about the people you claim to represent, you just get off on the excitement of it all. That’s the point, it would be better if these people just got off on the excitement of being into new shitty bands and fashion trends because it’s more intellectually honest and it doesn’t lead to some poor family from Ghanna being scared to death and having their store destroyed by a bunch of white kids in the name of “social change”. I’m saying this having spent my teens and early 20’s as an “activist”. Now I put that effort into getting food to the needy and developing education programs in low income areas of my city, you know, actual social work. In doing so I have noticed that the people who actually put their time into helping people are usually older, more conservative, religious and not punk (or “cool”) at all. The kids who yell a lot are just mad at their collective dad, and usually don’t give a rats ass about the less fortunate beyond the fact that it gives them something else to yell about.

    Gavin, congrats on another good one, you keep me coming back to this site.

  41. Buckminster Dick Puller says:

    What he said ^^^^^

  42. fredMS says:

    @ you all like fergie,

    word word word word

  43. Oligarch-funded Freak-show says:

    My PR/Security firm alerted me about this post. As the architect of you-all’s futures, I deign to elucidate, and so I have prepared the following statement:

    “You’re fucked. You’re too dumb to figure out who’s screwing you, even if the screwers appear directly before you like I am doing here. Just do more drugs. Now get back to work, the lot of ye! I want to install a cricket pitch in my other 747”.

  44. Tigerclit says:

    This is exactly why Street Carnage is my morning paper.

  45. Dur says:

    “Seriously, could you please expand on this. It’s about time someone blew the myth of the 60’s apart”

    Please don’t do this.

    I mean, look, I just found a smithereen of the myth of the 60’s lodged right here in my uncle’s couch.

  46. I was there, Man says:

    Demographic youth-bubble + postwar prosperity + Civil Rights movement + fear of the Vietnam Draft = Wildin’ in the streets. ‘Twas completely predictable.

    Excessively youthful demographies leads directly to widespread unrest–witness the middle east today.

  47. This nonsense needs to stop says:

    Great point about the difference today being that people above the age of thirty have been given a pass to hang on to being a teenager and therefore hang around youth culture a little bit too long. Since when is a 40 yr old supposed to be able to relate to a bunch of 19 yr olds. If you’re over 30 and still think the same way you did at 19 and relate perfectly with teenagers then you’ve missed a shit load of life.

  48. Sam Scherr says:

    Doesn’t explain the resurgence of fuckin’ shitty-ass cassette tapes.

  49. ZOGISTAN says:

    Blame that on a backlash to shows where it’s just somebody sitting there with a laptop in front of them. P.S. no grunge nostalgia yet, that’s a sign of improvement.

  50. Anonymous says:

    superb. clap clap. woohoo, as well:

    “Vietnam protesters were a bunch of horny stoners who thought that being all politco was a great way to meet and bang chicks. Also, I sincerely hope the brave people of Portland can manage to turn the tides on that place, because it’s clearly a hotbed of right wing oppression. Trust me honey, Gavin and myself and most of the people who read this site have plenty of experience with the punk/queer house scene. It’s just that we have been around it long enough to see that it never accomplishes any social change, it’s just a fun game for the people involved. It’s also usually about being a horny stoner. Anyone with any experience amongst the protester crowd and who has any sense of intellectual honesty can admit that it’s a big identity cult/party for those involved and has yet to ever help the less fortunate in any way. Thanks a lot G20 protesters, you smashed the windows of a ton of small family owned businesses (many owned by immigrant families) and then went and got drunk on 40’s and fucked each other. You don’t give a fuck about the people you claim to represent, you just get off on the excitement of it all. That’s the point, it would be better if these people just got off on the excitement of being into new shitty bands and fashion trends because it’s more intellectually honest and it doesn’t lead to some poor family from Ghanna being scared to death and having their store destroyed by a bunch of white kids in the name of “social change”. I’m saying this having spent my teens and early 20’s as an “activist”. Now I put that effort into getting food to the needy and developing education programs in low income areas of my city, you know, actual social work. In doing so I have noticed that the people who actually put their time into helping people are usually older, more conservative, religious and not punk (or “cool”) at all. The kids who yell a lot are just mad at their collective dad, and usually don’t give a rats ass about the less fortunate beyond the fact that it gives them something else to yell about.”

  51. ankle says:

    wht about tao lin

  52. Charlieford says:

    “Boomers, who are masters at glorifying their past, insist they stopped a war, but we all know it was Kissinger’s relentless bombing that ended it.”

    Generational envy and hip-ism aside, no, we do not know anything of the sort.

    It was the South Vietnamese president–that would be Thieu, for all of you who are too hip to pay attention–who stepped away from table in October 1972. The Christmas bombing that year was designed to convince him we would stand by his regime. The bombing was ended when the Air Force told Nixon it was taking too many losses in planes and pilots.

    The deal we got in January 1973–which left 90,000 Communist troops in place on South Vietnamese soil, btw (that’s how “bombed back into the stone age” they were)–was the same deal Nixon could have had in 1969.

    20,000 American and who knows how many Vietnamese lives earlier.

    But, you know, whatever. Dude.

  53. Lost Out Here says:

    Where the Hell am I?

  54. Almost says:

    “there are so many groups of (by their definition) “hipsters” out there actually working towards social change.”

    No, there really aren’t.

  55. Hugh Scott says:

    The above is my real legal name and the following is a real warning:
    If I spot anyone wearing a “DIE HIPSTER SCUM” T-shirt, in a manner deemed non-ironic (by me), you are getting bitch slapped. Scratch that, NO ONE would slap a bitch as hard as I am going to slap you.
    People forget that these scenes, come and gone, were formed by people who lived on the fringes because they couldn’t or wouldn’t live in the mainstream. As a translation: we aren’t ALL soft.

  56. Charlie Ford is right says:

    The war could have ended years earlier, but Kissinger in the greatest hubristic US war crime of the 2nd half of the 20th century extended it for reasons of his own ego. It’s well documented. Fuck you Gavin for lauding the unnecessary deaths of millions of innocents. Learn the real history.

  57. Darren says:

    That was quite informative. I did want to dispute one statement:

    “Today’s kids are the best. They are savvier, better connected, more informed, less consumerist and more capable of everything—including partying—than my generation or yours.”

    I guess this depends on one’s definition of ‘best’, but I think the generation of young men who fought in World War II were, by the very gesture of volunteering to protect their countries against the serious threat of fascism, better than any other generation of the 20th century. Bravery in the face of possible death on the battlefield trumps Chuck Taylors, connectedness and a Maker Faire culture.

  58. paul says:

    i agree that they are not all rich, but to say that they drink pabst because it’s cheap is retarded.


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