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 ...
Bill doesn’t wear glasses, but Andrew #2, the most fashion-forward of his friends, has wire rims. So does Tom, my other teenage son.
Andrew #1, the friend I like best, has a stupid beard like glued-on black sandpaper. It reminds me of “Pat the Bunny.”
My students sometimes show up in black rimmed glasses. They have no glass in them. I’m guessing it’s an Irony thing.
Now that’s weird.
They’re 12, 13. Their goal in life is to make teachers stare at them, nonplussed.
Irony is overrated.
Oh, at that age, I can see it.
You’re right about the ancien regime analogy. Not all of the aristos were like that, but many of the trendsetters were. And of course, just as today, they could indulge in this pose because they were insulated from reality.
What is most interesting is what happened when the languidly sophisticated and uninvolved aristos ran into people who took things very seriously indeed. The insulation melted and many of the ironists lost their heads.
Serious people will invariably kick the crap out of ironic poseurs.
It is unfortunate that people so often confuse irony with humor. In actual fact I think irony is the deadly enemy of true humor.
Most people drop the “student of cool” routine when they are forced to confront real life, and become committed to the life they are living.
Another thing: having the courage to be who you are openly without apology, and believing what you believe openly and again without apology renders the whole studied ironic pose meaningless.
There is a place for irony of course, as one tool among many. If its your whole tool bag, though, you probably aren’t building anything.
You’re right...Yet his show wasn’t about baby boomers but young adults of the ninties, who “Unlike many other sitcoms, Seinfeld focused less on a plot-driven story than on minutiae, such as waiting in line at the movies, going out for dinner, buying a suit and dealing with the petty injustices of life.”
Baby boomers in the ninties had careers, wives, children and mortgages. No time for worring about imaginary things. Thats why I said it’s a generation about nothing....
WTF? Seinfeld? Friends? Jon Stewart? Slackers? The '90s were ironic all over the place. 9/11 was supposed to be the end of all the Lettermanesque hipster ironizing.
But then, every past age is bound to look "simpler" and, I guess, less ironic, than the present -- especially to those who really don't remember those days very well.
Dear Christy; thank-you for sharing your thoughts with us. I haven’t been so underwhelmed since Geraldo Rivera found an empty bottle.
A site I like to visit from time to time: http://diehipster.wordpress.com/
HIPPIES were hipsters too. They were the joiners, not the original freaks in the scene.
The saying is The Haight changed (the visitors took advantage of the free store) once the tide of hippies came to town.
Post-modern irony died on 9-11-2001 but it came back like Carrie a few weeks later.
Recall when Dan Ratherbiased and David Letterman shed it tear for the days when we could just laugh again and talk about simple minded bullstalin.
Stan Freberg was a master of the form in the 1950s and 1960s. This educrat needs to do more research.
Oh wait, to the writer he probably seems to be wearing his glasses "ironically".
Obviously forgot when the coming-of-age baby boomers ushered in the ME generation.
And just like the hipsters of today, they did piles of cocaine.
Does not know of what she speaks.
It was a combat against the crap the music industry (hello Warner Bros.) was trying to shove down audiences throats. The last time so many small labels were actually able to get radio airplay and chart and concert hall success. Oh, and WB bought percentage stakes of many of these sorts of labels so as to own a piece of whatever took.
By the mid-1990s though, the indie labels were out in the mass marketplace, replaced by boy bands and girl pop stars (Nsync and Britney Spears et al).