In "Regret Everything," comedian Will Hines gives a weekly update on the thoughts that are gnawing at his brain.
We love criticizing hipsters. The main problem is that all of our criticisms sound like compliments.
Ask people to describe hipsters, and even though their faces scrunch up with disdain, everything out of their mouths sounds like a nice thing.
"Oh, hipsters? Can't stand them. They're all these YOUNG, THIN people who are OBSESSED WITH FASHION, and they basically HAVE TO KNOW THE LATEST BANDS, and need to be COOL. They all are BANKROLLED BY THEIR PARENTS and just spend their days MAKING ART and DOING DRUGS and HAVING SEX WITH EACH OTHER."
Uh, that mostly sounds awesome? And I would like to live that way.
The main criticism of hipsters is that they are fake and posed. That their unkempt ball bearing earrings and necklaces made of piano keys are DELIBERATELY unkempt, and so therefore are fake and should be regarded with deep disapproval, furrowed brows and searing comments on Gawker.
But criticizing anyone for being posed or fake is a slippery slope. How is a self-described rock muralist who grows a deliberately wild handlebar mustache any more fake than an investment banker applying a splash of cologne to his neck? How is any fashion of any kind not FAKE or POSED?
Let me be plain: I say this because I'm obsessed with hipsters and desperately want to be one. I'm too old, my taste in music is too lame (Billy Joel shows up on my iPhone shuffle) and I don't like tattoos. But I would love to be thin, smoking and working on my shitty art all day on Daddy's dime. I don't make fun of people who have that lifestyle, I salute them.
In my home city of New York City, hipsters are frequently mocked because they are so hilariously concentrated. They live mostly in the East Village, and then the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn (and its surroundings). Ride the L train from Manhattan to the Bedford Ave. stop and when you surface you feel as if you arrived in a 1890s youth circus colony: fedoras, sprawling hair (facial and otherwise), oversized coats, undersized pants.
Is it the idea of POSING that bothers us? That underneath the aviator sunglasses of the kickstarter-funded free-lance storyteller is a more "true" persona which should be let out perhaps a bookish prep school nerd with a powder blue button down shirt and Linkin Park CD. The handlebar mustaches are masks, our society cries! SHOW US YOUR TRUE FACE!
Many hipsters are associated with making bad art. But is that a reason to dislike the person? Many of my favorite people make bad art. They are pleasant and interesting people to hang out with. Also, since when is doing bad work a reason to dislike someone? If someone is an inefficient IT guy, do we scoff at his copy of Wired magazine and say, "Ugh, so fake."
It's ironic that any part of New York City would make fun of its hipster components, since everything that is said about hipsters is what the rest of the country says about New York. People who moved to New York moved to the hipster city of America. Not as much as Portland, Oregon or Austin, Texas but enough that they shouldn't make fun of any overly left-leaning artsy person who pays a ton of rent.
Being a hipster is a lot about context. Sitting here in a coffee shop in Greenpoint, where the Lena Dunham show "Girls" is filmed, my Old Navy Jacket, clean-shaven face, and pre-noon consciousness makes me look like someone's Dad, or substitute high school science teacher (for visual reference: I play a character in the web series "Very Mary-Kate" unfortunately known as "Fat Professor"). But back home in Danbury, Connecticut my sideburns, fake-retro glasses, and Marvin Gaye vinyl makes me a one-man Bonaroo.
My main point here is that I want to be invited to better, cooler parties. I want to find a warehouse six subway stops into Brooklyn, walk up four flights of stairs, hand ten dollars to an art college student dressed as PT Barnum, and then enter a living room that contains pot smoke, burlesque(ish) dancers and at least one upright piano. I want to mis-quote Mother Jones magazine, and find conspiracies everywhere. I want to get the email of someone who could give me a tattoo in not-quite-accurate Sanskrit. I want to run into members of The Hold Steady, extras from Boardwalk Empire and John Hodgman. I want to be a young ectomorph with a variable number of roommates and a permanent residence in an entirely unjustifiable band. Playing second bass guitar or tuba.
You'd make fun of me. In entirely complimentary terms.
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