Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization


We've reached a point in our civilization where counterculture has mutated into a self-obsessed aesthetic vacuum. So while hipsterdom is the end product of all prior countercultures, it's been stripped of its subversion & originality, & is leaving a generation pointlessly obsessing over fashion, faux individuality, cultural capital & the commodities of style.

An artificial appropriation of different styles from different eras, the hipster represents the end of Western civilization - a culture lost in the superficiality of its past & unable to create any new meaning. Not only is it unsustainable, it is suicidal. While previous youth movements have challenged the dysfunction & decadence of their elders, today we have the "hipster" - a youth subculture that mirrors the doomed shallowness of mainstream society.

Lovers of apathy & irony, hipsters are connected through a global network of blogs & shops that push forth a global vision of fashion-informed aesthetics. Loosely associated with some form of creative output, they attend art parties, take lo-fi pictures with analog cameras, ride their bikes to nightclubs & sweat it up at nouveau disco-coke parties. The hipster tends to religiously blog about their daily expolits, usually while leafing through generation-defining magazines like Vice, Another Magazine & Wallpaper. This cursory & stylized lifestyle has made the hipster almost universally loathed.

Gavin McInnes, one of the founders of Vice, who recently left the magazine, is considered to be one of hipsterdom's primary architects. But, in contrast to the majority of concerned media-types, McInnes, whose "Dos & Don'ts" commentary defined the rules of hipster fashion for over a decade, is more critical of those doing the criticizing.
"I've always found that word ["hipster"] is used with such disdain, like it's always used by chubby bloggers who aren't getting laid anymore & are bored, & they're just so mad at these kids for going out & getting wasted & having fun & being fashionable," he says.

It is rare, if not impossible, to find an individual who will proclaim themself a proud hipster. It's an odd dance of self-identity - adamantly denying your existence while wearing clearly defined symbols that proclaim it.

Marketers & promoters get paid to co-opt youth culture & then re-sell it back at a profit. In the end, hipsters are sold what they think they invent & are spoon-fed their pre-packaged cultural livelihood.
Hipsterdom is the first "counterculture" to be born under the advertising industry's microscope, leaving it open to constant manipulation but also forcing its paticipants to continually shift their interests & affiliations. Less a subculture, the hipster is a consumer group - using their capital to purchase empty authenticity & rebellion. But the moment a trend, band, sound, style or feeling gains too much exposure, it is suddenly looked upon with disdain. Hipsters cannot afford to maintain any cultural loyalties or affiliations for fear they will lose relevance.

We are a lost genaration, desperately clinging to anything that feels real, but too afraid to become it ourselves. We are a defeated generation, resigned to the hypocrisy of those before us, who once sang songs of rebellion & now sell them back to us. We are the last generation, a culmination of all previous things, destroyed by the vapidity that surrounds us. The hipster represents the end of Western civilization - a culture so detached & disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new.

Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization
Douglas Haddow
Adbusters #79

Comments (adbusters.org):

*It's a very hipster move to write a quasi-academic article for a hip magazine ain't it? So the author can get the street cred by writing about hipsters for adbusters, a pretty trendy publication in itself? But it's a little much and quite obnoxious to claim one vapid group of urban dwellers is the end of western civilization. For every hipster there are a number of people in my generation doing fantastic things to better society and the world. I don't think disco in the 70s or those craaazyy flappers of the roaring 20s made much of a dent on western civilization.

*I used to be a hipster but then I ran out of money...

*I'm reminded of 1999's Woodstock.
That, like hipsterdom, marks the difference between the genuine article and its manufactured counterpart.