Posted by pocochina on September 22, 2010
So…I figured out what it is that bothers me so much about hipsterism.
It’s nihilist. It’s scruffy. It’s not enjoying anything. It’s glamorized even though it’s not particularly glamorous.
It’s depression drag.
I don’t, generally speaking, disapprove of drag on principle. I’m actually a huge fan of queer drag and the way it interrogates gender and sexuality with its performativeness clearly marked as over the top by sheer talent and hugeness and presence. But this isn’t thoughtful, useful drag rooted in half in social commentary and half in unabashed exuberance for a part of peformers’ selves that they’re usually forced to deny. It’s a socially conformist affectation of some people’s social and psychological realities. And that wouldn’t be such a big deal, except it’s a reality that is decidedly not fun, or socially rewarding, or in any way actually desirable.
I don’t know, maybe this is a region-specific thing. But where I am, at least, it’s this subcultural contest to see who can roll one’s eyes the hardest, in an effort to show laconic disillusionment with entertainment phenomena – but such disillusionment comes with the detailed knowledge that takes active engagement with (and thus, presumably, enjoyment of) said entertainment. It’s not about legitimate social criticism, either, though your average hipster with a conscience will couch a few good eyerolls in talking points they read on Salon.com. There’s nothing wrong with legitimate criticism, even especially of stuff you enjoy. I do it all the time. But appropriating the language of genuine social criticism without actual intellectual work or engagement is a shit move, no doubt about it. This is false detachment from things that are meant to be fun is something that depressed people can’t escape.
The constant and rapid change of favorite music and then refusal to let on that you’re enjoying them – it looks like the boredom that never ends.
Whatever. It’s okay. Not as good as I expected.
That’s code for hipsters, in-talk for fantastic, and terrible, and everything in between . It’s real life for some of us.
Hipsters and hipster apologists – and I am sure a few people that really do enjoy the aesthetic – claim it’s about good stuff. It’s about not giving a shit about a proscribed fashion script. Except the scruffy IDGAF look is clearly not, as people who have for realsies not given a fuck for extended periods of time can attest, the actual result of not giving a fuck. It’s a result of paying close attention to what the folks around you are doing, and going one step away from them, farther into distancing glasses and ever-more-drab shades of black and brown.
It’s about challenging gender roles, I keep hearing, except it doesn’t really. It’s a passive acquiescence to them. The hyper-thin aesthetic is the same as it’s been for our whole lifetimes. That’s what the white, bone-thin beauty expectations are about – denying the reality of the physical body. Not rejecting gender, but pretending it doesn’t exist. And if that would lead to an actual rejection of harmful gender expectations, nobody would be more excited than I. But it’s not that. It’s deciding you can’t (won’t) fight it, and flying under the radar.
I mean. American fucking Apparel. People wouldn’t cop to liking their clothes – and in that case, I’m less inclined to blame them, because I am ashamed that I wore similar shit in a dance recital when I was eight years old and didn’t have a choice – so they pretended it was because it was socially responsible. You know, for those poor developing world victimy victims. Labor standards! Responsible capitalism! Except, no. Deliberately misleading advertising, blatantly discriminatory hiring practices, outright sexual harassment and abuse. That’s the opposite of corporate responsibility. Refusal to know otherwise, when Gawker can figure that shit out, is just gross.
Whatever. We can’t be bothered to care about discrimination when it’s right in front of us. Suck it up. It doesn’t matter anyway.
It’s about the pretense of wasting youth, when you can financially and emotionally afford to spend weekends in concerts and bars.
That’s what this irony bullshit is actually about. ‘Cause, haha, it has nothing to do with the actual meaning of irony. Oh, I don’t actually think [insert current, and often talented, artist here] is cool, I’m appropriately ashamed of what you’re presuming is my enjoyment, I’m listening to it ironically. It’s practically pathetic. In a lot of ways, the depression drag analysis of hipsterism is the meta-hipster bigotry. ‘Cause, if you don’t really mean it, what’s the harm? As long as you mean it ironically.
There’s harm when it’s blatant bigotry, and there’s harm with the depression-drag angle of it. You wanna front like the world sucks? You’re not interested in anything? You can’t be bothered to think about what you wear or say? That’s nice. Some people can’t take it off at the end of the day. Or the end of the month, or for their whole fucking lives. This isn’t drag as celebration or criticism or commentary. It’s lazily appropriating, and glamorizing, the shit reality of other people’s lives.