Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ve aah nihilists, Lebowski, ve care about nah-sing!

AdBusters published this five days ago, lamenting hipsters as the final death knell of Western Civilization with Fukuyama-esque end-of-history bombast.

GWS is fully aware that author Doug Haddow had a deadline and has to put food on his table like everyone else. The question, then, is who's editing this stuff? Did we really need a reference to Allied bombing campaigns in World War II to properly put the rise of swoopy bangs and skinny jeans in context? Tempest in a teacup, surely, but there are some larger underlying issues here.

For one, AdBusters has proven itself to be like a tiger---specifically in that whole eat-their-own-young thing that tigers do. AdBusters choosing to run this article is something like the National Review decrying neoconservatism as intellectually bankrupt. Dr. Frankenstein, it seems, has joined with the townsfolk in lamenting the sentience of his monster.

But if you can cut through Haddow's writing style (the final paragraph made GWS think that somewhere in America, a 12th-grade English comp. class is missing a personal expression piece), there is a little meat on this bone. The author massively overstates his case in his final line, but the underlying nihilism of the amorphously defined hipster is a cause for concern.

Haddow's at his best in this piece when he's writing about hipsters dancing, or rather, not dancing. "The dance floor at a hipster party looks like it should be surrounded by quotation marks," wins GWS's Snark of the Week award, but Haddow seems to be really getting at something here, though he stops himself short of really following his ideas. Mentioned nowhere in the piece is the utter lack of confidence of most hipsters. It's pervasive, a collective inadequacy that prevents hipsters from feeling comfortable trying something new in front of their peers. Instead, they're happy to fall back on cataloging the culture around them, absorbing and commenting and scoffing with impunity.

GWS thinks that, in general, most humans take themselves too seriously, but this is not the case with hipsters. GWS would love to see hipsters take a real chance, a real position: stop "appropriating" icons from other cultural movements (are you from Ramallah? Oh, Bushwick, you say! Sorry, your keffeiyeh had me confused...), stop being so convinced that ugly is beautiful, and for god's sake, try making a real joke without falling back on an ironic eye-roll. Poverty is not cool---just ask anyone who's really poor how many Hot Chip shows they've seen in the last year. So honestly: buy a decent beer every now and then, try to find something you actually care about, and pretend like you're trying to enjoy the few short years you get on this planet.

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