Skip to comments.How to Live Without Irony (Hipster Irony)
Posted on 11/20/2012 11:21:10 AM PST by nickcarraway
If irony is the ethos of our age and it is then the hipster is our archetype of ironic living.
The hipster haunts every city street and university town. Manifesting a nostalgia for times he never lived himself, this contemporary urban harlequin appropriates outmoded fashions (the mustache, the tiny shorts), mechanisms (fixed-gear bicycles, portable record players) and hobbies (home brewing, playing trombone). He harvests awkwardness and self-consciousness. Before he makes any choice, he has proceeded through several stages of self-scrutiny. The hipster is a scholar of social forms, a student of cool. He studies relentlessly, foraging for what has yet to be found by the mainstream. He is a walking citation; his clothes refer to much more than themselves. He tries to negotiate the age-old problem of individuality, not with concepts, but with material things.
He is an easy target for mockery. However, scoffing at the hipster is only a diluted form of his own affliction. He is merely a symptom and the most extreme manifestation of ironic living. For many Americans born in the 1980s and 1990s members of Generation Y, or Millennials particularly middle-class Caucasians, irony is the primary mode with which daily life is dealt. One need only dwell in public space, virtual or concrete, to see how pervasive this phenomenon has become. Advertising, politics, fashion, television: almost every category of contemporary reality exhibits this will to irony.
Take, for example, an ad that calls itself an ad, makes fun of its own format, and attempts to lure its target market to laugh at and with it. It pre-emptively acknowledges its own failure to accomplish anything meaningful. No attack can be set against it, as it has already conquered itself. The ironic frame functions as a shield against criticism.
(Excerpt) Read more at opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com ...
Well, it’s official. I have now lived in Alabama for so long, that this article reads like a foreign language to me.
I went with some friends this past Sunday to Portland, OR to something called an “ecstatic dance” but that my friends called the “hippie dance” even though my friends aren’t hippies (they just like to dance).
Definitely the hippie crowd was dancing at this event! You can find videos of it on GoogTube that gives you an idea what I witnessed but I won’t post any links here.
Actually, not a bad article.
I think the problem goes a lot farther back than the author does.
The intellectual leaders of our society have spent the last 200 years, and most especially the last 50 years, telling us there is nothing worth believing in.
Maybe they have just finally got their point across.
The author is quite correct, however, that this is a pose only for those who are insulated from reality. Very few people successfully maintain a pose of irony when stranded in the desert without water.
“If irony is the ethos of our age and it is then the hipster is our archetype of ironic living.”
The author is a 35 year old liberal, female, college professor. She reflects a subculture without purpose or values but with lots of leisure time. The things these self-indulgent elites do to amuse themselves she chooses to call irony. The ethos of these people is pursuing no other purpose other than self-absorption and defining themselves as “hipsters”.
The guy across the hall from me was once accused of being a hipster doofus.
Translation: Young white people are irritating. (And they are.)
The author is basically describing the predominant style of the current generation of college-educated, urban twenty-somethings, which is to basically laugh at everything and believe in nothing. The only antidote is an intrusion of cold hard reality into their otherwise sheltered lives, which I fear is imminent given the results of the recent election.
You are right Sherman Logan. —Seinfeld described his generation as being about ‘Nothing’- except you said it better....
Exactly - which is why they get their news from Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart...
My 18-year-old son says you're not a hipster if you're "still" dressing ironically. Irony has been out of date for some months now.
I'm not sure what his current act is, but it involves knitted ski caps in various ugly shades of green.
A newspaper columnist here in Pittsburgh recently described one of our scruffy, dingy, slightly dodgy streetcar suburbs as “the place hipsters go to have kids”.
Just the very thought of that has been keeping me awake at night.
My extremely unironic POV is that if you don’t have anything you are willing to die for, then you really don’t have anything worth living for.
Most movies and TV shows are ironic today. They mock their own story. Why should I buy into and believe in a story when the makers obviously don’t? And if you don’t believe in a story, what in the world are you doing spending $100M to film it?
One movie made in recent years that as far as I could tell was made without a trace of irony was Lord of the Rings.
The makers of the movie obviously took their story seriously, and IMO it made it a much better movie.
It is a good article, isn’t it? I could see this starting in 1990, but like you said, she may have been too young. But it’s nice to see what is probably a liberal suddenly sensing a light bulb over her head.
Also, Seinfeld was born in 1954, so he's a baby boomer.
Are black-rimmed glasses still *in*? (Because I'm wearing mine right now. I've had them for 15 years.)
I think most people lose their irony when they have kids.
Few people can be ironic, which means being uninvested, with their own children.
Which means a lot of people aren’t growing up until they start having children. Which is kind of sad.
I think irony is kind of like sophistication. Back in the early 60s I remember my considerably more wealthy cousins being bored out of their gourds by our simple pursuits when they visited. Quite a bit of the time I could see they really wanted to jump in, but it would spoil their pose of being big-city sophisticates.
Right on. This is what happens when nothing is sacred, when life has no value.
I came across this quote yesterday in a Cormac McCarthy novel: In the end we shall all of us be only what we have made of God.
That sure didn’t read like anything we’d find in West Virginia ...