In Defense of Hipsters

Pic @ Sandy Kim

By now many of you probably know about the recent New York Times article, “How to Live Without Irony,” by Christy Wampole, since it’s been getting so much attention that it basically exploded the internet. For those of you who don’t, Wampole’s article is a superficial analysis of “hipster” culture in which she scoffs at our generation for its lack of sincerity, and for viewing the world through irony-tinted glasses. Here’s how it begins:

“If irony is the ethos of our age — and it is — then the hipster is our archetype of ironic living. The hipster haunts every city street and university town. Manifesting a nostalgia for times he never lived himself, this contemporary urban harlequin appropriates outmoded fashions (the mustache, the tiny shorts), mechanisms (fixed-gear bicycles, portable record players) and hobbies (home brewing, playing trombone). He harvests awkwardness and self-consciousness. Before he makes any choice, he has proceeded through several stages of self-scrutiny. The hipster is a scholar of social forms, a student of cool. He studies relentlessly, foraging for what has yet to be found by the mainstream. He is a walking citation; his clothes refer to much more than themselves. He tries to negotiate the age-old problem of individuality, not with concepts, but with material things.”

Perhaps someone forgot to inform Christy that it’s 2012, and that most of the urban world has now moved on from this, because people finally accepted that there was no succinct definition of the vague term “hipster.” Not only was her article a word-salad, but it was so DATED that I felt physical pangs of second-hand embarrassment while reading it. I’m not generally one to respond to any of the ubiquitous “anti-hipster” commentary, because I feel that anyone who mocks hipsters is so obviously doing so out of cluelessness and jealousy, that simply being the hipster-mocker is punishment enough. How embarrassing and shameful to be you, hipster mocker, for your lack of self-awareness. Surely people by now understand that if the term “hipster” stands for anything it’s simply someone who is culturally aware, stylish, and who has an obscure knowledge of interesting music, film and art. Do people seriously not realize that mocking someone for being cool, interesting and stylish only highlights the fact that you are none of these things?! Helllooooo!

Christy also invites us to analyze ourselves, and check for symptoms of the dreaded irony disease:

“Here is a start: Look around your living space. Do you surround yourself with things you really like or things you like only because they are absurd? Listen to your own speech. Ask yourself: Do I communicate primarily through inside jokes and pop culture references? What percentage of my speech is meaningful? How much hyperbolic language do I use? Do I feign indifference? Look at your clothes. What parts of your wardrobe could be described as costume-like, derivative or reminiscent of some specific style archetype (the secretary, the hobo, the flapper, yourself as a child)? In other words, do your clothes refer to something else or only to themselves? Do you attempt to look intentionally nerdy, awkward or ugly? In other words, is your style an anti-style? The most important question: How would it feel to change yourself quietly, offline, without public display, from within?”

BARF. As if people who like to dress wacky are automatically invalid as humans.

Irony is a good thing; it’s our way of undressing the world, of viewing people and things and situations on multiple levels. Take away irony and you just become a one-dimensional yoga person who loves astrology and talks to strangers about your aura. Well, no one gives a shit about your fucking aura, and no one gives a shit about you either Christy, which is clearly why you wrote this bullshit, redundant article: out of resentment. In my opinion, your article felt less like an honest analysis and more like a personal vendetta–you’re angry at yourself for for being so uncool, or some hipster didn’t sleep with you, or whatever. Your article went in way deeper than was necessary, a sign of distress. If only you had original ideas, then you wouldn’t be left regurgitating the same Midwestern mom-talk bullshit we’ve been hearing since 2006.

When I emailed Hamilton hoping that he would share in my anger, he replied only: “Did you Google image search the author? I can neo-sincerely say that anyone who has such awkward self portraits online is incapable of saying anything of value.” And then I did Google her, and found the selection of photos you see below, in which she is apparently 100% honestly posing with her face reflected in a broken mirror, which I can only assume is a totally non-ironic representation of her fragmented soul. LOLOLOLOL.

Casually and sincerely reading an ancient book NBD

Also, as a recent VICE article points out, Wampole is in a really shitty band with a SELF-WRITTEN WIKIPEDIA PAGE. I legit can not think of anything more #tragic.

Hipster bashing is essentially cool bashing, and I feel like I need to point out that being cool is not a bad thing, because the opposite of cool is someone who’s boring and uninteresting and normal and looks like shit. And it’s better to be cool than uninteresting. OF COURSE IT IS. And anyone who argues otherwise is quite obviously uncool.

Irony is the backbone of humor, Christy, and you are clearly a humorless, frigid bore. Of course it would be unattractive if an entire generation was just ironic, and nothing else, but that is far from the situation. So, please feel free to continue being sincere, taking humorless photos of your shadow reflected in ponds, and dressing in clothes that reference nothing except the TJ Maxx sale rack. But please do so far, far away from me, because you’re cramping my trendy, irreverent, ironically slutty, Williamsburg blogger-chick style. Or whatever. I don’t actually care. #aloof