Monday, 6 April 2009

Hipster Alert!

After writing that post about Laura Marling I decided to do a follow-up on hipsters, the victims of my upcoming rant. 

Firstly, let me define what I mean by a hipster: Young middle class white person who claims to be "alternative" by being interested in non-mainstream media and culture and yet move from trend to trend according to what is currently popular, while claiming to be "outside" of mainstream culture. 

In other words, conforming bourgeois hypocrites that claim to be different by wearing Converse shoes, listening to indie music, taking "alternative" pictures of stoney walls and dirty side alleys, as well as wearing those horrible specs that suddenly became popular:

Here is a quote by another blogger on the nature of hipsters: 
"They don’t seem to subscribe to any particular philosophy or particular genre of music. They are "soldiers of fortune of style" who take up whatever is popular and in style, appropriating the styles of past countercultural movements such as punk, while discarding everything that the style stood for."

South Park had a go at hipsters in the episode South Park is Gay!, where the male trend in town, metrosexuality, becomes an meaningless appropriation of gay culture. Gay culture as you may know is associated with rather flamboyant dress styles in order to mark their distinction as a movement. When metrosexuals made claim of tight trousers they were essentially ruining what gays had fought to establish as their trend for decades. 

For more rants about hipsters there is a good blog called Hipster Runoff, which essentially takes the piss out of people pretending to be alternative while driving a Mercedez Benz. The entry I like the most is an attack on Devendra Banhart, the no. 1 hipster today. 

My dislike of Banhart (né 1981) derives from two factors: (1) He has appropriated 1970's folk music as if it were his own. Ever heard of Marc Bolan (recording under band name T. Rex)? Devendra's albums are a complete plagiarised version of Bolan's four acoustic albums recorded as Tyrannosaurus Rex in the late 60s/early 70s. Banhart - talented maybe - is a direct copy! 
(2) As soon as Banhart hears about yet another forgotten but re-discovered folk artist from the seventies (Linda Perhacs, Vashti Bunyan, ... you name it) he will stalk her up until she concedes to perform along with him. That way he gains even more credibility as an "authentic folk artist". 

This image sums up the seeming contradiction that lies at the nature of people like Banhart. On one hand they root for the folk movement of pacifism, vegetarianism and political activism, while on the other hand they endorse the mainstream capitalist culture via consumption of Apple products whose identity has slowly been forged by means of heavy marketing campaigns that create supposed connotations to such values:


  1. I giggled all the way thru this post. You are so right on many points. And the sad thing about this is, this was me 20 years ago ... LOL

  2. I am proud too be a hipster.

  3. I am proud too be a hipster.

  4. I dunno man, sounds to me like you're making the mistake of projecting the values associated with styles that hipsters appropriate onto hipsters themselves, then contrasting that with implied values based on buying habits.
    Everyone in the west lives in a contradiction- We don't agree with child labour, deforestation, global warming et cetera, but we profit from them.
    The hipster aesthetic just unintentionally brings this contradictions to the fore