Skinny jeans don’t get caught in bicycle gears: In defense of the hipster

You’ve all been waiting with bated breath for me to respond to Douglas Haddow’s provocative Adbusters article about hipsters being the “dead end of western civilization.” Obviously western civilization will continue like a refrigerated cockroach in an atomic storm whether or not its youth wear skinny jeans. Western civilization will probably work for us into perpetuity, or until a meteor hits. But one must forgive Haddow’s (and Lorentzen’s) hyperbole thanks to our white collar convictions about journalism, patriotism, and an average editor’s circulation demands for a national magazine.

We all like to hate on what is fashionable. Fashion sucks, obviously . It’s a realm outside of our respectable “blue collar” tastes. And literati types are meant to be on top of things, especially inevitable backlashes against what is popular at any given moment. So I don’t blame Haddow for being mean to hipsters. Some of them deserve it. Some of them probably relish it. Some of them are convinced they’ll be young, hot, and threesomed forever. One day they’ll receive a wake-up call informing them that they’re actually incorrigible doofuses. And they’ll do that without the painful administration of front page stories when they die in a fixed gear bike collision.

It’s superficial to accuse people of superficiality when you base your analysis on superficial indicators. You go to an after-party, talk to a couple of fashionably insecure girls in their early 20s, look at a few late-night pictures, and suddenly you have a handle on what it means to be a hipster.

I wish I had a handle on what it means to be a hipster. I have hipster friends and family. I have at times aspired to be a hipster. And hipsters are sexy as hell. And they write editorials like this, making me sweat with their learned haircuts.

But there is life beyond haircuts. These hipsters are human beings with families and love affairs and hurt feelings. And who is to say that their world is less authentic because their style currently conforms to urban mainstream? There are only so many ways you can wear your shirt and your hair. I don’t see the harm in trying to stand out personally while capitulating to a stylistic homogeneity. It’s a lot easier than trying to create the new Steampunk. Think of all the money and energy that goes into that look, as opposed to buying a bicycle and a t-shirt from the Goodwill.

But I have some criticisms.

1) Wtf, hipsters? Why can’t you commit to a modern band, instead of always falling back on the t-shirt canon of the Rolling Stones, the New York Dolls, Led Zeppelin, the Ramones? Let’s take a risk every now and then. Wear a t-shirt that isn’t just a repackaged lack of controversy.

2) Don’t be scared off by all the older folks who pressure you to be someone important. You’ve got plenty of time. Relax. But don’t just take refuge in being a live hard, die young type. You’re worth more than that.

3) Don’t be afraid to love something in a non-ironic way.

4) Wear comfortable clothes, especially if you’re going dancing.

5) Question the use of fashion to get laid. It just attracts the wrong kind of element. Granted, you’re not good at sports, but find something that chicks will like just as much.

6) One thing I appreciated about Vice Magazine’s “Dos and Don’ts” was that the women the editors loved weren’t supermodel types. They were just cute girls with average bodies who knew their way around a pair of pants. Don’t cave to the fashion industry’s ideals concerning underweight girls with plump lips. You have the confidence to establish your own standards, even if they don’t belong on the billboards your style poachers try to feed back to you.

And thank you, hipsters, for making it cool to celebrate a diversity of music, fashion, ideas, and cultures. To some it might be stealing. To others it might be disseminating. You’re making the cultural panoply mainstream for the first time in all its unedited glory. And for the first time this is being done step by step under the desperate glare of the media.

So no wonder we* love to hate you. No wonder this dedicated microscope is painful for everyone involved. The fashionable ones have come to the crossroads where everyone is cross-examined, especially if you stand out. You’ve reached the line between being real and being false that we’re all trying to paw and navigate and decipher with teeth bared. At least we’re all united in diluting the boundaries of this line, making it harder to tell who is committed to what genuine dream. And at least trucker hats are no longer the barometer for cool. Although, to tell you the truth, I could use some kind of visor to protect me from this nonstop glare.

*And here I mix up my pronouns like Haddow, like a postmodern, like a person drunk on PBR.

3 Thoughts on “Skinny jeans don’t get caught in bicycle gears: In defense of the hipster

  1. I’m just waiting around for you to get online….haha…

  2. thanx for understanding. it’s sooo hard being cool,talented,and beautiful. check out my blogs on myspace im sure you will be entertained

  3. oh yeah i’m working on a fixed gear bike right now too. why not? everyones doing it. im going with turquoise and pink.

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