War on hipsterism

Will Self sul New Statesman riflette sulla sulla generazione completamente senza talento degli hipster (mai nominati direttamente, ma con l’appellativo di «dickheads» — teste di cazzo):

We’re the pierced and tattooed, shorts-wearing, skunk-smoking, OxyContin-popping, neurotic dickheads who’ve presided over the commoditisation of the counterculture; we’re the ones who took the avant-garde and turned it into a successful rearguard action by the flying columns of capitalism’s blitzkrieg; we’re the twats who sat there saying that there was no distinction between high and popular culture, and that adverts should be considered as an art form; we’re the idiots who scrumped the golden apples from the Tree of Jobs until our bellies swelled and we jetted slurry from our dickhead arseholes – slurry we claimed was “cultural criticism”.

So all I can do is sit there and reflect on the great world-girdling mass of mindless attitudinising that passes for “hip” in the third millennium since the death of the great sandal-wearing hippie. In 2005 Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris’s satirical series Nathan Barley aired on British television; in it, they portrayed the nascent scene around Shoreditch and Hoxton in east London as a miserable gallimaufry of web-headed, tiny-bike-riding, moronic poseurs. Watching these programmes again nearly a decade on, I’m struck not only by the uncanny prescience of Brooker and Morris, but, far more disturbingly, by how nothing has changed. Changed, that is, qualitatively – if you walk down Brick Lane nowadays you see the same beards, low-cut T-shirts and fixed-wheel bikes; and if you eavesdrop on conversations you hear the same idiotic twittering about raves and virtual art forms; but quantitatively the picture has been utterly transformed: this quarter of the metropolis is positively haunching with dickheads – but then so is Manchester’s Northern Quarter, or Clifton in Bristol, or the West End of Glasgow. If you venture further afield you will find dickheads the world over – downtown Reykjavik, I discovered to my horror, is a phantasmagoria of frothy-coffee joints and vinyl record shops.

Due giorni dopo, sul Guardian, alle provocazioni di Self risponde Eleanor Morgan:

“At some point in the last few years”, argued Morwenna Ferrier in her astute analysis of the term in the Observer, “the hipster changed. Or at least its definition did.” It was once the term applied to anyone doing counter-cultural, zeitgeist-y and creative things in New York and London, but has evolved into a label for people who, as the Observer piece says, “look, live and act a certain way”. To call someone a “hipster” has become an insult, a playground jeer.

E ancora:

Every generation has had tribes who thought they were being highly original in their sartorial and creative preferences. They just grew – or grow – up and roll their eyes at the next lot, much in the same way that year-eight students everywhere will have eyeballed the new year sevens in their baggy uniforms earlier this month. It’s a we-were-here-first-ness that feels good.

Per arrivare ad oggi, quando lo stesso quotidiano britannico (nella sua versione del fine settimana, l’Observer) organizza una specie di tavola rotonda, ma molto riservata, sul significato dell’essere hipster. Vi partecipano il giornalista Alex Rayner e lo scrittore Padraig Reidy

PR Love the hipster, hate the hip? Maybe. But something that worries me about modern hipsterism is how comfortable people seem to be about its commodification. Sure, British subcultures from trad jazz on have had an element of having the right clothes, the right beard, the right records – but that cultural obsessiveness was what made them interesting. The curious thing about modern hipsterism is that all the signifiers seem entirely ostentatious – the fact we tend to think about pop-up burger vans and espresso stalls when talking about what’s “hip” these days suggests it is entirely an issue of conspicuous consumption in the most literal form – eating on the street. But what is a hipster book? What is a hipster record? Who is the hipsters’ favourite poet? I have no idea. I wonder if anyone does.

AR Yes, that cultural curation is tedious, but isn’t that what young men have always done? What would Richey Edwards’s Instagram have looked like, or George Best’s Twitter feed? I’m sure both would have included shopping advice. As for books and records, people say Belle and Sebastianor Animal Collective are hipster bands; Simon Rich’s new book, Spoiled Brats, skews young Brooklyn beautifully, and there’s even a little fan fiction; I know one hipster has, in the style of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, written a Patrick Bateman pastiche called American Hipster: A Parody. OK, it’s not Nabokov, but they’re trying.

Anche l’Independent, con Rhodri Marsden, prova a fornire una sua versione sull’odio che sembra circondare il mondo degli hipster, anche se sembrano esserci ancora delle difficoltà a tracciare il perimetro di questo mondo, considerato anche come il termine sia stato di volta in volta associato a contesti diversi e abbia assunto caratteristiche differenti rispetto al suo significato originale:

The word “hipster” didn’t always have such negative connotations. Steely Dan vocalist Donald Fagen named his recent memoir Eminent Hipsters, referring to a group of artists whose “origins lie outside the mainstream… or who have enough distance to see some truth”. But any bohemian romanticism that may have been associated with hipsters in the 1960s has long since been torpedoed; it’s now an expletive, spat out contemptuously towards anyone who seems to be part of this pseudo-counterculture that appears to have nothing going for it.

(foto Edgar Hudon via Flickr)


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