Meet The Global Hipster — And The End Of Pop Culture

I purposefully avoided blogging about Adbuster’s recent cover story, “Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization,” mostly because while it made a few good points, it smacked of bitterness — a late 20’s writer on a sub-30K salary who was born too early (or too nerdy) to partake in the teenage electro orgy. Which is a position I’m not unfamiliar with, but the piece was more editorialized than a Karl Rove soundbite; it could’ve stood with a lot more balance, another 1,000 words of quotes and research, and less blaming the kids and more finger-pointing at culture at large.

See, the hipster — or, for those of you wearing American Apparel, listening to Grizzly Bear, reading this blog and not calling yourself a hipster (myself included!) — isn’t the outsider anymore. If it’s not already, mass culture is on its way to retirement, replaced by ever-expanding Internet-driven niche culture. The era of the geek is in full swing: the year’s biggest movies star Batman and Iron Man; Michael Cera and Seth Rogen (also superheroes) are bonafide box office champs. The preeminent boy band of 2008, the Jonas Brothers, will be lucky to sell 2 million copies of A Little Bit Longer, a feat *NSYNC once completed in a week. Gossip Girl, the hottest show on TV, is watched almost exclusively online and on Tivo. Hipsters, if you want to call them that, are now a social group to rival the jocks and frat bros. The underground is everywhere — not just New York and Los Angeles.

The Independent had a tremendous feature yesterday on the rise of the global scenester and the importance of unifying brands like American Apparel, Converse and Uniqlo, as well as the musical omnivorism practiced by the bandwagoneering youth of today — used to be, freak-folk, hip-hop and electro wouldn’t make the same playlist in a million years. Does this speak to a more open-minded generation? Or to the presence of slumming, apathetic mainstreamers who would’ve played water polo in another life, looking for something to drink and dance and get sensitive to? And when it ends, as generational trends inevitably do, is it indeed a dead end — or will everyone just become grups and free-spirited moms? Leave your answers in the comments.

Grizzly Bear – “While You Wait for the Others” (live): mp3
Cut Copy – “Strangers in the Wind”: mp3


Critical Backlash is a column where I complain about things.