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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

No One Likes a Dirty Hipster

Finally, thankfully, the hipster generation is over. The end really began with their adoption of the trucker hat--such an absurd, obnoxious, over the top symbol of cool was just too much of a reach. Yet the last gasp of those trying-to-hard lost youth rambling about Brooklyn drinking 2 Pabst Blue Ribbons a night was Conor Oberst, aka "Bright Eyes". He made every music publication cover in one week, had the #1 and #2 single, and was the basket into which the hipsters put all of their eggs. They thought they had their Dylan, finally a voice for their (quickly) aging generation, a group that was approaching 28, that age when one needs to find a job and a life. Parading around playing dress-up and bar hopping was no longer acceptable--the kids had their chance and they failed. No political, social or cultural icon or product emerged from their insular world, except perhaps a growing rift between urban youth and the rural Oberst, however, represented of them who made it big and--or so they thought--would legitimize their society (which, by the way, is now 40% off at Urban Outfitters).

Few stars in recent memory burned out as fast as Bright Eyes. His albums, with titles as absurd as, "Bowl of Oranges", were emo ad absurdum. It had no reason to be taken seriously as a political statement--Oberst's political diddies were little more than whiny repetitions of liberal insults. Most importantly, Oberst and his music were the culmination of the hipster's biggest flaw--the inability to laugh at one's self. Rarely does one here a hipster jokingly insult another, indeed doing so would really hurt their feelings and would warrant another session of therapy. This is not a knock against therapy--certainly many of the finest cultural icons could have benefitted from quite a bit of it. No, it is a knock against the hipster's choice to be self indulgent, to discuss not just one's emotions but one's problems with the world, to (as Oberst does) yell, "I have problems!" and expect pity from others.

What my generation--a bit younger than the hipsters and hopefully wiser--will be remembered is yet another incarnation of the critic. Jaded by both the greed of the roaring 90's and the "anti-greed" of the hipsters (who in fact lived with the safety net of Daddy's credit card--while not a trust fund, at least base security in case shit really did hit the fan) we question conservatives and liberals, rich and poor, lazy and ambitious alike. Our spokesman is Jon Stewart and his ilk--a man who hipsters applaud for his liberalism while we applaud for his humor. And, unlike the hipsters, as Stewart grows more serious so do we. Finally I feel inclined to give the Brooklyn set their so desired pity--they never had such a cultural barometer to mock them, to tell them their trucker hats or vintage t-shirts were absurd and silly. No, they never had anyone to tell them to get a clue, and the result was their society spiralling ever downward into the world of the absurdly self indulgent. The closest thing they had was Ashton Kutcher, and they still didn't learn they need to marry rich.