09.23.08

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Well, considering the song and band I just wrote about in the last post, this post may suffer from a twinge of irony. If ever their were an anthem to send up the emptiness of hipster culture, it would no doubt be MGMT’s ‘Time to Pretend’. But then again, irony is the fence that surrounds the hipster playing field. With that said, I think it is time to get down to brass tacks and face some hard facts. I was directed towards this article a few weeks back by some friends but failed to make the time to read it and finally did so this evening. I have to say, it stung a little. About 10 years ago, when I was in college, I would mark myself and my roommates as at the beginning of the wave of hipster culture. We bought everything we owned from thrift stores, wore our clothes way too tight, had a different haircut every month, rode bikes, drove shitty old cars, partied constantly, were all in bands, several of us were actors, traded girlfriends often, owned nothing other than secondhand furniture (some of which we reapolstered with crushed velvet), went from concert to concert to concert and liked to take all genres of music, throw it all into a blender and see what kind of mush oozed out of the mix.

So yeah, I have been there and done that. Then the last 8 years happened. And now here we are with a crumbled economy in the middle of an endless war that seems like more of an assault on reason than on terrorism. Why, with all of this style consciousness, didn’t it ever become cool to at least get up off your ass, go out there and vote some of this madness out of the Whitehouse?

Anyway, the article to which I was referring to before veering headlong into my tangent, is the article titled, ‘Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization’ that appeared as the cover story in a recent edition of Adbusters. It seemed a bit of a wakeup call, if not a call to arms, by a magazine that is no doubt read by the very people that are being railed upon. Regardless of this irony there was some really remarkable writing in the article, and it was impossible not to feel some of it hit home a little and sting where it landed. I recommend reading it all the way through, despite your cultural predilection. It is definitely food for thought.

And with that I will leave you with a quote from the article to help get you started.

An artificial appropriation of different styles from different eras, the hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture lost in the superficiality of its past and unable to create any new meaning. Not only is it unsustainable, it is suicidal. While previous youth movements have challenged the dysfunction and decadence of their elders, today we have the “hipster” – a youth subculture that mirrors the doomed shallowness of mainstream society.

written by Christopher | tags: , ,

10 Responses to “Hipster: The End of Western Civilization”

  1. geryon Says:

    Even though I’m totally on the tale end of this ‘doomed subculture,’ I felt the sting too when I read this. What happens now? Thanks for posting this.

  2. Christopher Cox Says:

    I think we get our asses out their in massive numbers and vote. Then we take a note from the working class we are emulating and start learning what the words ‘civic duty’ mean and start actually participating in whatever way we can to help get ourselves out of the muck America is currently knee deep in. The point is we have to start something, somewhere, sometime and now is a better time than ever.

    I am just as guilty as anyone. I tried my best to speak out early during the Bush administration but I guess ranting on the internet is no substitution for real activism and I guess that is what is called for. There is no room for sideline participation in politics. I guess you just have to get in there and do something tangible. I have thought about trying to become a delegate in the next election or at least getting more involved by volunteering for my party. You can volunteer at a hospital as well. There are lots of ways to start turning the tide but to me right now, you just gotta get out there and vote. Do that first and then move on from there.

  3. geryon Says:

    i totally agree. i’m ready to work.

  4. Lauren K Says:

    I read this article shortly after it hit newsstands and truly loved it. It had a harsh but necessary message and I got it loud and clear. Thanks for posting your thoughts on it.

  5. nick Says:

    Im sorry but that was fucking garbage. i wish i had that 5 minutes of my life back. in my opinion society has always had sub-cultures that are worthless. if someone wants to deem the “hipster” culture “The End of Western Civilization” i guess their entitled to that, but to imply that everyone is fucked because a bunch of spoiled, lazy kids aren’t doing anything worthwhile is absurd. there are hundreds of thousands of young people who are doing great things and have very meaningful lives. i take offense that my hard work is even remotely compared to some lazy, piece of shit that considers the service industry a solid job. in my opinion it’s just another pathetic cry for attention for a “look at me” generation who’s afraid to take responsibility for their lives. now they’re writing articles to pass the blame and label what they one were as the “The End of Western Civilization”? hipsters talking shit about hipsters! good god. i cant believe i spent this much time even writing about it… ahh.

  6. Chris Says:

    Good point Nick. I hear you on that one.

  7. Eli Horn Says:

    This article has been EVERYWHERE lately, and I really have to say I find it quite disappointing. It’s funny because I have seen this author’s work elsewhere and like a lot of what he writes (he has a great blog at (http://thepublics.wordpress.com/), but honestly, this is one of the most ill-informed, generalizations passed off as a critical view that I have seen in a while (although a quick flip through Adbusters would most likely glean quite a few more examples of the such an article). Almost every historical reference made is the generalized cliche of what actually took place. Every time I read an Adbusters article I am torn between the writer’s legitimate passion, and their complete lack of validity and highly questionable editorial fact-checking.

    As Nick already observed, “society has always had sub-cultures that are worthless”. In fact, I would argue that the majority of cultures and sub-cultures in modern society are entirely worthless—but within each and every facet of society there are a small number of people who are actually doing something useful, and this is what becomes “history”—unfortunately we are too close to see it until it is part of a past generation. ‘Hipsters’ have become the most visible, probably most global sub-culture in a generally short period of time. Of course they are going to be singled out and criticized by anyone who doesn’t take a moment to think: what about everybody else of that generation? I live in Vancouver (with a large visible hipster population), and yes, it does annoy me a little (especially when I quite enjoy a lot of ‘hipster’ trends and activities, such as riding a bicycle), but really, when you compare them to every other definable sub-culture, what is better? Clubbing, getting shitfaced on the bus with all your fakenbake friends and bleach-blonde over-made-up girls? Wearing huge jeans and shirts with 2pac or pot leaves emblazoned upon them, smoking captain blacks and calling your girlfriends bitches? Or riding bikes, playing in bands, and being vaguely creative?

    In the end, regardless of where you stand, it must be accepted that this article makes absolutely no useful argument. There are no ‘calls to action’ whatsoever and rarely a constructive criticism. If there is any real examination to be made, it on the generation as a whole. None of us are doing it better than the other and nobody is in great shape, but to start pitting one sub-culture against another, or singling one group of people out for being ‘cliquey’, is not only hypocritical, but actually pushes any progress towards a global community backwards. We should be striving to live together as humans, not creating deeper divides between each other. I’m certainly not religious, but I do agree with the proverb about removing the board from ones eye before trying to get the stick out of another’s.

    How about we accept each other’s faults and do the best we can?

  8. Philip Says:

    I think hipsters don’t have the time to consider broader social issues. These are people with the primary concern of being cool. With today’s technology, any cultural movement grows at an incredible pace compared to historical movements. Hipsters gather, but don’t have anything to do when they gather but reflect on hipsterdom. It’s a vicious cycle where novelty has become the commodity and time the enemy.

  9. anon Says:

    my impression of ‘hipsters’ is that they’re people who like to go out and party and dress in a certain way. who the fuck cares? why is this an issue for people who apparently consider their careers and ambitions to be more legitimate than some kids who spend their nights with people who dress similarly? this article epitomized an adult version of inane inter-high school clique bantering. don’t hate hipsters, hate individuals.

  10. turin Says:

    Most of the hipster kids I know are dumb and do nothing. They think that voting for Obama is fucking radical. Give me a break!!

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