My daughter has a major beef with the Hipsters or so called Hipsters. She describes them as Pretentious, self absorbed, clueless racist. One of her biggest grievances is against Cultural appropriation. This is a phrase that is new to me because I come from a generation of Borgs, who assimilate everything within reach. The example of cultural appropriation that she cited, was the Hipster theme parties put on by the Frats; one of which was called Navahos and Navabros ; all of the girls dressed up as slutty Indian Princesses replete with, fake war bonnets, loin cloths and fringed micro-minis. I’ve been told that the justification for this type of insensitive behavior is that they are doing it Ironically. I doubt that many of these people know the true meaning of irony. Ironic is apparently the catch phrase that makes it all okay.
The reason the I’ve used this example of this indifferent often snide behavior is to point out the basic dissimilarity between the old school Hipster and the so called and self appointed present day counterpart. Here is a dictionary definition of what a hipster is by present day standards;(hipster 1 |ˈhipstər|noun informal a person who follows the latest trends and fashions.) Wrong on all counts. Here comes the old man rant; back in the day a Hipster, Cool cat, Hepcat, Beatnik, Hippie of just plain happening dude, or chick, was the person who set the trends not followed them. This is what is intrinsically wrong with the modern day Posers that refer to themselves as hipsters. The number one rule is that if you have to don the Hipster mantle yourself then you aren’t actually entitled to it, you are a usurper.
It all comes down to the intangible, irrefutable, essence of COOLNESS. What is hip or cool can not be defined by any regional style or mindset and it certainly can’t be defined by a bunch of clueless tools who are all too often not only racist, but sexist and ignorant. I have my own prejudices pro and con and a personal concept of cool formed by life long experiences, but most people generally agree that some things are cool and some things are not. I will attempt to establish and explain my criteria for what hipsterism means to me and to expose the true banality of fake hipster culture.
Often in history the true trendsetters tend to be ostracized and ridiculed and usually for superficial and inconsequential reasons based on fear and prejudice. Things and people that are different are always met with suspicion, fear and sometimes anger. In the present day Hipster movement, if it can be called that, there are no Radical thinkers no movers and shakers and nothing of worth or of real value coming from this group. A thin veneer of superficial trappings and a banal and offensive attitude toward the arts and people of color is the only thing that they have to offer. Where are the Lord Byrons or George Sands or the Jackson Pollocks,where is the new Nikki Giovanni or Pablo Nerudo? Why are there no Gonzo Journalist, Photographers, playwrights or any other artist of any kind associated with this new incarnation of the hipster. Answer: because there is nothing hip or cool about them The only thing that they have to offer are trolls like Daniel Tosh and Lena Dunham who are prime examples of the indifferent racist. Not Hip and not cool no matter how popular they are right now. Racism hasn’t died it has just been appropriated by Fake Hipsters in the media.
From the early days of the European and American Bohemian movement, up to the world changing Peace, Love, Hippie culture, the Cool people have always been the people who have brought about change. The clothing styles were only a reflection of the inner Changes not the end all to be all of the movement. The two movements that I am most familiar with, are of course those that came about during my life time. First let’s start with the Beatniks of the Late 40’s to the early 60’s http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beat_Generation
The literary genius that came out of this movement was awe inspiring, and there lives were the stuff of legend and inspiration for academic studies and many intellectual debates. But literature was not the only thing that came out of the Beatnik culture. Although Jazz existed long before the Beat Generation it thrived and evolved in this era especially improvisational Jazz. Musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck Charlie Parker and art Blakey Changed music forever and inspired succeeding generations of Musicians. All of the artist that I have mentioned were Icons for the beat Generation and continued on to inspire the next wave of innovators.
Like all social movements the beats had their detractors. The media was a merciless persecutor of the counter culture and it is exhibited in it’s depiction of Beatniks in movies and television. They were accused of being everything from communist to drug addicts and psychopaths. More often than not on television they were depicted as buffoons or weirdos. Below are three depictions of beat culture in the media, two of which deal with debauched or criminal behavior, The middle photo is of a young Bob Denver as Maynard G. Krebs the wacky beatnik pal of Dobby Gillis, whose favorite Musician was Thelonious Monk, a famous Jazz musician whose name instigated canned laughter from the uninformed Hollywood tools.
Bob Denver as Maynard G. Krebs
One of the implications of these negative portrayals was that Negro music was driving white youth to ruin. According to Television and movies, the Beats were dirty unkempt slackers, whose language was unintelligible gibberish and whose pursuits were hedonistic and trivial. How dare they seek intellectual enlightenment through the arts. Being hip was not always trendy it was outside of the conventional and the safe. Coffee houses Jazz Clubs and Consignment art Galleries were considered gathering places for a vast Communist conspiracy suborning American youth. In reality they were places where people of all ages could gather for entertainment and enjoy stimulating intellectual conversation, with like minded individuals.
I would dare say that the beat generation were in fact true hipsters in the traditional sense of the word. The term meant that someone who not only loves and appreciates art, but has an understanding of its relevance and importance to society is hip to that fact. They are themselves contributors and artist and exponents of culture and intellectual pursuits.
Next Week The Hippies