Yesterday, one of the questions on facebook was “If there was a button you could press that would kill all the hipsters in the world, would you press it?’ And I thought “what’s the deal with this whole facebook question thing? I don’t get how this works.” And then I thought, “you know, that seems a little extreme, because mass genocide is rarely the rarely the right answer. [Some vaguely recalled Einstein quote].” Then a friend pointed out that in the past week I had said that all hipsters should die in a fire at least three times.
Which caused me to wonder: why do I hate hipsters? Why does anyone? And seriously, how does facebook questions work?
Maybe the best place to start is to define the word. Wikipedia tells me that “Hipster is a slang term that first appeared in the 1940s, and was revived in the 1990s and 2000s often to describe types of young, recently-settled urban middle class adults and older teenagers with interests in non-mainstream fashion and culture, particularly alternative music, indie rock, independent film, magazines such as Vice and Clash, and websites like Pitchfork Media.”
That doesn’t bother me, as I like a lot of things on that list. Hell, my very conservative father likes a lot of things on that list (well, independent films. One thing).
I actually like a lot of stuff hipsters like. Not American Apparel. I hate American Apparel. But other stuff. I love Vampire Weekend. I love Joan Didion. I sincerely wish that we could get an In-N-Out burger in New York. I sort of hate those black and white films where French people go oui-non-oui-non-oui-non to each other forever (Hiroshima, Mon Amour, I’m talking to you) but I do love me some Fellini. Theoretically, I should be friends with bunches and bunches of hipsters. But I’m not. Because I think they’re awful.
I don’t think this is just because the co-opted things I actually enjoy. I like the things I like to be popular. It means that people will make more things like them, and I can go hear Vampire Weekend in Central Park rather than having to go out of my way to find them.
And I don’t think their affection for those things is insincere. I mean, maybe it is, my friend Elizabeth tells me it is, but come on, it’s not all that hard to like In-N-Out burgers. It’s not hard to appreciate 1950’s photography and Ra Ra Riot. Those things are cool.
But I also don’t believe that going out to see a film about the Warsaw Ghetto makes me inherently better than someone who wants to go see The Other Guys (really funny movie, by the way. The Other Guys. Not the Warsaw Ghetto one. That one wasn’t funny at all, and they really could have lightened the mood with a few jokes). My problem with hipsters has nothing to do with their interests. It has to do with the fact that their interests have turned them into smug, unbearable assholes. They do take themselves so very, very seriously.
I still remember the first conversation that made me hate hipsters. Normally I re-enact this conversation with hand puppets and dinosaur voices (for serious) but since you’re not sitting in front of me, I’m just going to write it like a one act play.
The action takes place in a crowded party at the New Museum, 2008. It’s reminiscent of the setting of a Noel Coward play, except that the DJ is playing “Take A Load Off Fanny.” The time is between midnight and 4:00 in the morning. The New York skyline sparkles behind the window. The door left center, elevator center stage, DJ booth left.
Hipster boy appears wearing a fedora and suspenders, clutching a can of PBR which he brought himself. Walks towards Me.
Me is a wistful looking, big eyed girl of 22, wearing a 1950’s style blue dress and a white headband, sipping a Diet Coke, tentatively, as though afraid that it might be spiked with this thing called booze.
Hipster Boy: So, what do you DO?
Me: Oh, I’m a writer. I write for [Me names whatever trade magazine Me was freelancing for at the time, mostly likely Trawler Today or Pastry Chef Daily. Certainly “What’s Up Annapolis.”]
Hipster Boy: I meant like, what’s your passion?
Me: Oh, umm, I enjoy it. Writing. The writing, I like it a lot. What about you!? What do you do? Or umm, is your passion?
Hipster Boy: Well, I [am an Internet celebrity.]
Me: Cool! I’ve heard of that! That must have been really interesting, how did you get the idea…
Hipster Boy, waving his hand abruptly: So, do you have a tumblr?
Me: No. I’m really not all that good with technology.
Hipster Boy: Why don’t you get one? You could like, write on it.
Me: Well, frankly, I’m at a point where I really want to be paid for my writing. I want it to be my job, not just my hobby.
Hipster Boy: Wow. You must really not like to write.
Me: Fuck. You.
What was your favorite part of the play? My favorite part is the part where Me says “fuck you.” Want to be in on a secret? The Me character? That was me!
Now you could say, Jennifer, that was one isolated asshole. That’s not indicative of anything about hipsters in general. To which I’ll say “It must be nice living out there, far away from Brooklyn. Is it fall in Montana, yet?”
Because I seem to end up having the same conversation every time I talk to a hipster. Basically, all of their conversations seem to indicate that they believe that they have a higher understanding about the world because they’ve seen a few Godard movies, and you should work to prove yourself to them. And why should you have to work to prove your intellect and “integrity” to a freelance stylist who doesn’t appear to actually do any styling work? You wouldn’t. That would be ridiculous.
In conclusion: Hipster Dinosaurs will probably be the funniest thing you see all day.