Hipsters In High Town

Is the hipster movement dying down? Probably not. At least not till they run out of money. Because that’s all it is - group of young people with too much money and not enough time. Not that there’s anything wrong with having money, but when an entire social movement is centered around available buying power and status symbols rather than ideology or political reform, there is no winning way out. There is no goal to reach, no final destination. Only enjoyment of material comfort until the cash runs out. It’s a total lose-lose situation.

Have there been any other social classes based entirely on buying power? I can only think of two: the formation of the middle class in the early nineteenth century and the burst of yuppie culture in the late twentieth. Both yielded a pornocopia of new trends and fashions, rooted in the newfound leisure time that they had or the wild increases in salary speculations, respectively. Emergent-middle class Britons had more time then they previously knew what to do with, and twenty-eight-year-old financial advisors in New York made more money in a week then their blue-collar grandfathers did in a year. Middle class citizens (aided by the consumer revolution) redefined what it meant to live comfortably. Suburban anywhere would never be the same. Yuppies, however, succeeded in nothing more than annoying millions of sensible people, mostly from the already-comfortable middle class.


Hipsters lie well outside of that cultural creative plane. They aren’t redefining what it means to live a certain way nor are they curating a mindset in which they view themselves as the acme of human achievement. The ideal hipster, cigarette dangling from his lips as he leaves his loft to mount his brakeless bicycle. Wearing his keffiyeh, skinny jeans, and emo glasses rides to the pub to drink some PBR and shoot a ‘collabo’ photoset with his friends for upload to their Tumblr account, he is blissfully content in his slacker ethic and consuming mindset. Hipsterdom is all about what you buy, and nothing about what you believe. In the effect that they all act and look pretty much the same - they are all standardized culture-hogging zombies. In that they are all in for the ride until the cash runs out (despite the blue-collar addictive habits they cultivate, they don’t actually like to “work”) they are all hopelessly standardized losers.

Perhaps the scariest thing about this trend, though, is the penchant of the hipster commune to appropriate any item of culture for its own use, rendering mere possession of said object equal to high hipster status. They recycle culture in a way that renders is useless for future men. One minute Polaroid cameras are objects of ridicule, and the next minute you are a the poster child for the hipster movement for taking pictures of rusty industrial complexes with the one strung around your neck. The attack could come from anywhere. Hipsters march from product to product, glorifying it, consuming it, and disposing of it in favor of a new “passion”. It is a vicious cycle that, again, will only end once the money runs out.


If the money does run out, the hipster has no recourse, apart from one that involves some real “work.” I am talking, of course, about documenting and packaging other people’s culture for bite-size consumption in the form of a video documentary. The hipster will do what he does best and appropriate someone else’s interests for his own gain; a neat little bundle to add to the pile of self-promotion. This isn’t a guaranteed venue for generating some extra coin for beer - there is no money tree to ravage - but it certainly embodies more hope that the hipster’s musical efforts with his “indie band.” After all, being in a band takes work, while making a documentary just involves walking around with expensive audio-visual equipment. With the appropriately-priced tools, salvation is near.

But you still have to buy it. The hyper-consumerism ideal that drove the past fifteen years continues to manifest in absurd forms of expression. Hipsters are the children of image and wonderlust. Society have created an abomination - one that power-walks through a mall, iPod blaring, to get to the hottest vegan restaurant chain. They are for sale as cultural fashionistas but not as productive citizens.

All play and no work. All consumer and no creator. A firework ember that dies out in the starry night.


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