Friday, August 8, 2008

AdBusters is on the front lines fighting the good fight against nothing.

God, stress is a bitch. Between finding a new apartment (taken care of!) and finding a new job (eh...), I haven't had anytime to do anything remotely interesting. Ok, that isn't true. The lady and I took at trip to Upstate New York, which was nice (although after being whipped around on an inner tube at about 40mph my arms are ready to fall off). I decided to take the day off today to focus on the job hunt. It has obviously denigrated to me complaining about things here.

Which brings us to this absolutely redundant cannonball of a tirade from AdBusters against (wait for it...): hipsters.

I'm sorry, is it 2001 and we're still listening to Peaches and still think Williamsburg is all the rage?

There are a couple of problems with this article. One is the very obvious fact that AdBusters seemed to forget its target audience. That's right, the same hipsters who read Vice and Wallpaper are also reading, you guessed it!, AdBusters.

The second problem is that rather than probe for why it is that "hipster" culture has become the dominant stance of twentysomething counterculture, Douglass Haddow seems only interested in formulating a condemnation of this cultural phenomenon. Rather than attempting to address the reasons for hipsters relative lack of political engagement and tendancy toward debauchery and excess, he seems only interested in pointing out their lack of concern for the world around them and their innate solipsism. Take for example, his truly hilarious description of a "hipster party."

"Perhaps the true motivation behind this deliberate nonchalance is an attempt to attract the attention of the ever-present party photographers, who swim through the crowd like neon sharks, flashing little blasts of phosphorescent ecstasy whenever they spot someone worth momentarily immortalizing.

Noticing a few flickers of light splash out from the club bathroom, I peep in only to find one such photographer taking part in an impromptu soft-core porno shoot. Two girls and a guy are taking off their clothes and striking poses for a set of grimy glamour shots. It’s all grins and smirks until another girl pokes her head inside and screeches, “You’re not some club kid in New York in the nineties. This shit is so hipster!” – which sparks a bit of a catfight, causing me to beat a hasty retreat.

In many ways, the lifestyle promoted by hipsterdom is highly ritualized. Many of the party-goers who are subject to the photoblogger’s snapshots no doubt crawl out of bed the next afternoon and immediately re-experience the previous night’s debauchery. Red-eyed and bleary, they sit hunched over their laptops, wading through a sea of similarity to find their own (momentarily) thrilling instant of perfected hipster-ness."

Was Haddow wearing a fucking pith helmet while attending this party? It honestly reads like an early 19th century travelogue.

Finally, Haddow makes the mistake that all cultural commentators have made for the past 50 years and that is that he assumes that hipsters as a youth phenomenon are inferior because they are the here and now and as a result lack some sort of vetting or authenticity. Hipsters may represent the latest incarnation of youth counter-culture but they are certainly not the end run. He accuses them of merely latching on to other fragments of culture and in turn rendering these fragments (such as the keffiyeh, PBR, fixed gear track bikes, et at al) meaningless. Has this man ever read Norman Mailer's "The White Negro?" White youth culture has been stealing from black culture since at least 1945.

All in all, rather than attempt to offer explanations or even alternatives for hipster culture (maybe, just maybe, hipster culture is a reaction to a world that, in the wake of Bush, Iraq, 9/11, the sub-prime crisis, etc, appears to be falling apart. Similar to what occurred in Europe following WWI), Haddow merely brow-beats their supposed lack of concern for anything. In doing so he offers absolutely nothing new to the dialog.