Tuesday, December 07, 2010

What was the Hipster? | HiLobrow

Hipsters haunt the Revivalist generation (born 1974-1983):
Noting that the term “hipster” was first applied to certain black subcultural figures in the 1940s and to 1950s-era “white negroes,” Greif notes that although the look of “Hipster, in its revival” [emphasis added] may have “overlapped enough with a short-lived moment of neo-Beat and fifties nostalgia (goatees, fedoras, Swingers-style duds) to help call up the term,” the 1999-era crop of hipsters were white, and uninterested in fetishizing blackness. Instead, with their trucker hats, “wifebeaters,” Pabst Blue Ribbon, mustaches, Americana T-shirts, tube socks, and tattoos, the hipsters “fetishized the violence, instinctiveness, and rebelliousness of lower-middle-class ‘white trash.’”

Yep, this is what I’ve been saying for a few years now about the Revivalist generation. Whereas their immediate elders mix and match fragments of received cultural forms, which sometimes results in works of great originality, and sometimes simply means freshening up reheated entertainments with air quotes, Revivalists don’t have an ironic take on bygone cultural forms; instead, they reboot them, like old videogames. The hipster takes to a risible extreme what all Revivalists — including n+1′s editors — do, in one form or another. It’s hard-wired into their generational DNA.

If Revivalists despise the hipster with white-hot intensity, it’s for that reason.
So if revivalists are always-already rebooting dead cultural modes, do they hate hipsters for giving away the game - thereby turning the whole ethos into a sham parody - or because they are incapable of the ironic distance required to, y'know, get the joke - and thereby laugh at themselves?