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cult of the hipster™

Thursday October 30, 2014

Ok warning… this is rant. A rant which will be highly biased, intolerant and appear as quite brutal to some people. But as all good rants, this is merely letting off some steam. If you identify yourself as a modern hipster, you’d probably want to stop reading this about, now.


In my journeys throughout the urban Melbourne space, I am bombarded with cookie-cutter design aesthetics and people-clones walking about. Now I realise this is not new by any stretch of the imagination. The majority of humans, well, have always been sheep. Of current trend for the last few years is the so-called ‘Hipster’ aesthetic fad. Since going completely commercial around the beginning of that time, things now have moved beyond absolute hip-saturation. Also now a design fad, hipster style showcases: thin, minimal fonts with a few hairlines and boxes thrown onto everything without great attention to geometric precision; with over-simplified emblems featuring crossed cutlery, arrows, razor blades, pencils; and silhouette icons of beards, moustaches, pipes, black frame glasses, swallows, diamonds and fucking triangles everywhere!


Now look, my intention is not to be cynical or out of the loop or come across as old-school — many modern hipsters are actually older than me — but I have slowly observed Melbourne, like so many big cities, ploughed by commercial media culture, become ‘hipster’ to my utter horror. It’s not that I don’t appreciate a nice beard or moustache or two, I mean, I come from a long line of Italian men with moustaches… ‘real’ men who smoked Marlboro and were cowboys in their own minds. My issue with the hipsterization* of wider culture is, {*’z’ spelling intentional, U-S-Australia,} that ultimately it is a gross perversion and rip-off of subcultures long gone. A mix of colonial/1950s/yuppy Americana style with slightly more than a splash of skin ink from a few bygone tattoo eras. Most contemporary hipsters have no idea where their look comes from at all. Most believe they are so amazingly cool and new, yet if they actually did scour the archives of twentieth century culture to reveal the history of their aesthetic guise, perhaps they wouldn’t feel so cool after all. Most modern hipsters have no idea that their very name is stolen from a non-related 1940s jazz subculture, from people who had swing and groove and generally identified as hipster because they appreciated great musical ability and open-minded attitudes of individual expression and personal freedom.


The ‘modern hipster’, born from the capitalist consumer machine, was clandestinely sold to the new clones through advertising, celebrities, commercial films, magazines and music clips, and spread like a skin-blackening disease amongst the droves who, all looking to out-cool each other, ended up as a byproduct of a purposely engineered consumer dehumanising assembly-line. The age-old marketing objective to sell them aspiration, it seems, has sold ‘cool’ to the ever-growing flock who didn’t stop to think (largely at all… but especially didn’t stop to think) what the word ‘cool’ actually means.  But of course, we live in an era when the power of corporate marketing influence is so great, that it can pervert the meaning of our very language, alongside the manipulation of mass thought, decisions and actions. Maybe I’m wrong, but I thought ‘cool’ meant NOT looking and acting like everyone else and actually doing your own thing with the attitude that, “I neither care what other people do, look like or think”. Influences from the current zeitgeist will obviously be part of any individual’s style, but for so many to ‘become [insert fad name here]’, so whole-heartedly and blindly is personal identity loss at a level that actually scares me. Scary because all this is not in essence really about ‘hipster’ at all; rather a demonstration that the masses can be unknowingly spurred to sacrifice their sense of self to a large degree, for the sake of ‘cool’, or ‘tough’, or ‘young’, or ‘hot’ or whatever other word you care to substitute for the real word: acceptance. It’s a sad world where people unknowingly seek acceptance and validation through others in place of self-knowing and self-esteem. What a dull and unsatisfiable world. But as the great Frank Zappa once said, “If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, THEN YOU DESERVE IT.”


But back to the creative world, Hipster design, like all other fad graphic design, is largely propagated by mediocre computer operators who lack the innovation and ability to placard OUR physical and virtual spaces with something other than monkey-see monkey-do graphics — that is, something other, like innovative, skill and technique-based creations which communicate a message other than, “I have a beard (which gets trimmed by a barber/thief who charges 20 times the amount an actual barber would charge, but will get my money because she/he like me, has the tattoos and business cards with a pair of fucking crossed razor blades on them!!!!!!)”.


Rant over.