The beard says hipster. The Bernie says bro. What kind of other person is this?
Perhaps the greatest achievement in the last decade of social journalism has been the elimination of hipsters. At one time, hipsters were such a powerful force that they threatened to displace all other groups. By 2009, for example, they were so numerous that Time magazine found it more efficient to describe them in terms of who they were not:
Hipsters are the friends who sneer when you cop to liking Coldplay. They’re the people who wear T-shirts silk-screened with quotes from movies you’ve never heard of and the only ones in America who still think Pabst Blue Ribbon is a good beer. They sport cowboy hats and berets and think Kanye West stole their sunglasses. Everything about them is exactingly constructed to give off the vibe that they just don’t care.
Here the author lays out the hipsters’ defining characteristics: they don’t like the band you like, but they like the movie and beer you don’t. They wear hats. And they pretend they don’t care, when in fact we all care very deeply. We care so much about who is a hipster that we successfully hounded them out of existence. But they left a demographic vacuum that has been filled by bros.
The Bindle Brothers of Brooklyn, from their “business company” site
One of the best features of satire, in my opinion, is how it encourages the uncharitable reader[/ref]or auditor, or viewer, or whatever[/ref] to attack at the wrong moment. It’s like a boxing feint. I first encountered this New York Times story on the Bindle Bros. of Brooklyn—an artisanal bindle company that uses “locally grown, naturally fallen” sticks to make $350 bindle bags—shared on Twitter with the comment “come on, Williamsburg.” The commenter had even retweeted the story from an original sharer who presented it as satire, but no matter: it fit his sense of hipster affectation, and he leapt to scorn it.
I didn’t realize how 90s the 90s were until they were gone and I was old. Remember when soda was extreme, thumb rings were hip, and carbs were called “carbos?” Neither do I, really, although I do remember the moment I understood that the word “extreme” had lost all meaning. Fortunately, the good people poison merchants at Coca-Cola have brought back Surge for sale on Amazon, at the reasonable price of $14 per 12-pack. Now you can have a Surge Movement, too, just like the t-shirt on that aging ponce suggests. Today is Friday, and everything old is new again. Won’t you recover from the Reagan era with me?
At this point, the iconography of hipsterism has become so esoteric as to just be iconography itself. If your primary focus is your clothes and you still look terrible, you're a hipster. Photo courtesy of latfh.com.
Salon provides us with an interesting ethical question/reminds us of its existence today, with this article about hip, educated young people who use food stamps to buy organic groceries. Much to the consternation of Mose, hipsters have been a perennial object of fascination here at Combat! blog, in part because they’re so difficult to pin down. In reporting the apparent uptick in hipster consumption of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit cards, Jennifer Bleyer acknowledges the difficulty of proving that what she’s writing about is actually happening. “The increase in food stamp use among this demographic is hard to measure,” she admits, “as they represent a cross section of characteristics not specifically tracked by the Agriculture Department, which administers the program.” When writing about hipsters, one must continually examine the possibility that they do not exist. For Bleyer’s purposes, the hipster is a fairly identifiable, if vague, marketing demographic: twenty/thirtysomething, college-educated, and willing to pay money for organic tarragon. In this case, the money is yours.
The second coolest dog ever (Number one: Phife Dawg)
In keeping with its tradition of covering the news not just as it happens, like most papers, but also possibly before it happens, the Style section of the New York Times announced today that bulletproof vests are totally hip. The author of the article, Ruth La Ferla, says the phenomenon was likely spurred by the return of the Fox show 24, in which Jack Bauer often wears a bulletproof vest. I guess that’s possibly true—24 is a show on television now, and people are apparently wearing bulletproof vests for fashion now—in the same sense that eating breakfast makes it get lighter outside. As is usually the case with a style piece, you can’t prove it’s not happening. La Ferla points out that bulletproof vests are worn by counterterrorism operatives and wealthy plutocrats, as well as Hollywood moguls and 50 Cent. “So it may have been only a matter of time,” she writes, “before aspiring hipsters embraced the style — the sartorial equivalent of a safe room — as a badge of cool.” Because as any hipster will tell you, no one is cooler than 50 Cent, unless it’s the guy who runs Wuhan Steel Group.