04 Aug 2008

we real cool

Adbusters claims hipsters to be the Death of Western Civilization. Hyperbole, yes, but also navelgazing BS. Even though they may wear different clothes and sneer across lunch tables, Adbusters and Hipsters are cut from the same cloth. The culturejamming content the mag praises is lauded by the very hipsters they deride.

We lurk late

The thesis of the Adbusters argument is as follows: Ever since the end of WW2, Western subcultures have worked to subvert dominant paradigms and their oppression of art/love/race etc. As the power of punk and hip-hop lost their true pluck, the aesthetics of rebellion mashed up to create The Hipster. Alas this Hipster whirlpool is sterile like a mule, unable to create new content/Meaning, zombies subject to trends and adverts. Thus Western Civilization is toast, faced with “a youth subculture that mirrors the doomed shallowness of mainstream society.”

Some truth there, but the sky aint falling.

Since we now live in the quickening of an instant era, anything that catches as cool will spread as fire. Unavoidable and certainly leads to repetition in NYC. But if we burn our fort, what does Adbusters truly expect us to do? Go East/3rdWorld and jack ‘culture’? Make the post-colonial claim that foreign lands are so much more authentic/ pure/real? Do something meaningful, be like Bono and um, ‘save’ Africa?

We jazz june

Just as ‘Alternative’ music became mainstream rock, “Counterculture” (as evinced by The Hipster) is now folded into mainstream culture. The singular Hipster aesthetic has ossified and is now no different from the uniform of a preppie/jock/hiphopper etc.. But the costume of tight jeans and a Keffiyeh is simply a collection of visual cues that signify membership to a group, just like baggy pants or pearl earrings. So Counterculture aint dead, it just might now be looking different.

Both the West and The World are currently living in an unprecedented state of remix and creation. There are more tools of authorship, identity and distribution than ever before – and these tools bring forth new sub and countercultures, ones that may have been ignored not only by the mainstream, but also by the dominant counterculture. Possibly even by Adbusters, who close their article with this strangled swan song.

We are a lost generation, 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 and 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 and disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new.

Good Heavens. Rather than cueing dirges, I wanna know why Adbusters is looking at the hipster to signify the progress or failure of Western Civ. Makes me think that the mag is well out of touch, lapping at the pool of cool irony and now indistinguishable from those they once tried to bust.

we die soon?


  1. 20 Jul 2010 Caleb

    i think, then, that the solution to this miasma is to reject the world and try to live as closer to the vacuum as possible. I would hate myself if i ended up being considered a hipster, a punk, an emo, a hip hoper, or any other trend and over-regurgitated concept of what a human being should be. I also think we have come too far in our thinking evolution, so far that now we occupy our thoughts with issues that are not real issues just to feel that we have issues to think about, and therefore, feel like we are thinking. It’s all bollocks, if ye ask me. A mere distraction to the real problems of this rubbish of a world. Detachment is the only solution.

  2. 31 Jul 2010 Ronak

    I believe that if people would do what they like, act how they feel while abiding by laws (w/ a victim), stay connected to new and old music/movies/art/news/history, wear clothes they like, learn something new, discover a cheaper/safer alternative, smoke or not smoke, drink or not drink, do whatever and don’t place yourself in a certain group or category… we’d be a lot more happier and you would still contribute to civilization albeit Western.

    Whenever I find something new and interesting whether it be a new leaked song by Kid Cudi, or a banned indie movie in the US about how Scientology is full of shit, or even a cool adage by Ben Franklin, I’ll share it with friends and family and that’s how I contribute to our society. Detachment is an option, individuality is the solution.

    Peace & Love

    Kid Cudi – Mojo is Dope
    The Profit – Featuring L Con Hubbard
    “People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.” – Benjamin Franklin

  3. […] For more, see this parallel post here. […]

  4. 9 Jan 2011 Pfff..

    Ronak. What are you even saying? Talk about stating the obvious.. “people should do what they like to do, act how they feel, while abiding by laws.”
    Here’s the problem with everything. There’s nothing new. Thanks to the Internet, we find the newest, the next and the soon-to-be so quickly that we think we’re doing the rest of the world a favour by saying “wow, you have to check this out.” Most people probably knew about it already.
    Smoke or don’t smoke, drink or don’t drink. Pff. Come on. Take a position. Have a fucking opinion. That’s the other problem. All we do is e-mail, text, chat on IM. People are terrified to stand up to one another face to face and say what they really think because we’re so used to the buffer of time and space the Internet has created. Because of all of our online “communication” we’ve lost the ability to communicate in the most important way. We’ve become terrified of confrontation. Our defense mechanisms now consist of closing an IM conversation or ignoring a text if we don’t like what someone is saying to us. How pathetic. Only 15 years ago, people would have screaming matches in universities over issues because they were defending their beliefs. Now the only belief we hold is that there’s no wrong answer. Well fuck that.
    Turn off your fucking computer and go talk to someone.
    Tell someone what you really think of them.
    Break up with someone face to face, no other way.
    Write a real fucking letter.
    Stop riding the coattails of people who are creating things and create something of your own. You know what I think when people send me great quotes by great thinkers? Write your own fucking quote. Get your own opinion. Read. Learn. Talk to people. That’s how you do that.
    That’s the problem with hipsters. They pretend to be nihilistic when really they’re just uninformed and apathetic. They have no style, substance, or opinion of their own, so they simply go online and find a cool quote to adopt, then they see what everyone else is wearing and do the same.
    We need to destroy the Internet and put some mystery back into the world.
    And fuck Facebook too. Live your life to live it. Not to simply photograph it and add it to your album. Like anyone except the lonely voyeurs who stalk you give a shit what you did last weekend, you narcissistic fuck.

  5. 9 Feb 2011 skeez

    to above… A-fucking-MEN.

  6. 23 Feb 2011 a dood

    get a fucking life. What are you trying to do get hipsters to be more like you? have a bunch of zombies follow you. there will always be that group of people that have no real life and become waste. those people, you ignore, stop complaining. A lot of people don’t have opinions and have nothing to say really, and usually the people arguing their points all the time piss people off and turn into dictators, which tend not to work out. at least now people can put on silly close, look like goons and we can laugh at them, but i guess you think its too big of a deal to find the humor in it.

  7. 18 Mar 2011 JasonGrange

    @”Pfft” above, A-MEN, that’ gold

  8. 20 Apr 2011 Charlie

    A dood is obviously the exact type of person that pff is describing and instead of allowing himself to hear wisdom and open his infant little eyes to the truth he decides to tell it to fuck off! hahahaha Pathetic!

  9. 8 May 2011 Zzap

    Hipsters are incapable of independent thought. They’re strung around by other hipsters who listen to the same thing, read the same thing, dress the same way, hate the same things and listen to the same thing.

    They created a trend, even though they refuse to admit to doing such.

    Hipsters aren’t the downfall of western civilization, they’re just a bunch of idiots desperately clinging to anything that is obscure. They will either grow out of it or find themselves very much alone.

  10. 13 May 2011 ColaBoy

    I enjoy people like Pfff who piss and moan about how people are too internet driven then start slamming people over the internet. This coming from somebody who probably has two computers, an iPhone, a gaming system of some sort and probably has a Facebook account….with no friends.

    It’s like the guy who is in debt up to his eyes telling somebody else how to manage their credit.

    Beyond that, Pfff has no right telling others how to live or what to think. At some point in his life he was (and probably still is) guilty of the things he criticizes others for. To say otherwise would be a lie.

    We spare feelings, we deceive, we don’t take a stand, we don’t take sides. At some point I’ve been guilty of this, Pfff has been guilty of this and you have been guilty of this.

    Welcome to human nature.

    If the worst thing somebody does in their life is to spend too much money on second-hand clothing, write bad poetry, wear glasses when they don’t need them and listen to obscure music then who are we to judge? More to the point, what difference does it make?

    I hate to break it to you, but Hipsters aren’t a culture. They aren’t a counter-culture. They’re a fad.

    Worry about your own life and actions, Pfff. Let others worry about theirs. Leave the internet if you so desire, it’ll manage just fine without you.

  11. 19 May 2011 Big B

    Pfff is absolutely right, and although I somewhat agree with your point ColaBoy… Why are you so offended? You know Pfff is right… Damn hipster!!!!

  12. 7 Jul 2011 shape

    i think this article describes the situation very accurately for the most part with some brilliant explanations. some good comments here to followup, but a bit too much unnecessary “foofaraw” overall. i agree w/ ColaBoy that all this animosity toward ‘hipsters’ is silly. personally, i don’t even like or use the term, but will use it in my response merely for reference to the topic. i feel there’s too much focus on trying to stereotype people and define a group. i mean there are plenty of people who may wear the same styles of clothes but not take part in those actions/interests, or people who take part in all those actions/interests but have a completely different style of dress. one of those guys in the pics could be one of the most creative dudes on the planet (or may be in the future), and you would never know. it’s unfair to judge people based solely upon a shallow external layer and conveniently place them neatly into a group. for adbusters to say that is pretty retarded. although i don’t actually have any friends that are “hipsters”, they are a hell of a lot more interesting & passionate than the average Joe & Jane America or Marty & Mandy Mainstream who have little to no appreciation, or even disdain for anything untraditional or absent from TV “programming”. it’s also pretty mean-spirited to blatantly target an entire culture of people like this and post pictures so they can be identified by newcomers & outsiders (ok, let’s print out this pic and go hipster hunting. wait i think i see one. spotted!! let’s get him!). it’s also adding more fuel to the fire of what already bothers you and reminds me of government/police control tactics and task forces for racial & culture profiling. i don’t think it’s in the mindset of this website to approve of and intentionally simulate those types of tactics.

    destroying the internet is definitely not a solution. that’s like having an outbreak of e.coli and then decide shutting down the global agriculture business is the best way to handle it. while the net may have some negatives, there are certainly an exponential amount of positives that outweigh those negatives. It’s an expanded method of communication, like postal mail, telephones, or TV when they were created, but in this case acts as a wormhole for mass consciousness, creating a separate thought-based dimension of infinite expansive potential. i’m sure there were plenty of aspects of culture that changed due to those previous technological revolutions and plenty of people who proposed similar ideas to abolish them and go back to the old ways (reverting to the traditional). plus, this music culture phenomena started happening well before social networking and even before the internet became popular enough to have the effects Pfff states.

    “hipsters” are not a cause of these problems. they are an effect – simply fans and followers. you can’t expect everyone to be creative. plus, you can’t really “write your own fucking quote” unless you actually want to quote yourself. the tide has changed direction, the pendulum has been swinging the other way and hipsters are like fish in the water, moving with the tide – the microcosm being subject to the unseen macrocosm. it’s part of an entire paradigm shift of all aspects of culture. though if you want to point fingers in the realm of music, you can use both hands. look toward the artists and the record companies. it’s the music they choose to create and release that is the biggest influence on present youth culture. the common element from all genres right now that is missing from most new music is honest emotional expression. this trend has been created by a steadily growing fear and loss of self for more than a decade, resulting in music than sounds very immature compared to most music that came before it. i agree with Ronak’s one point that it has to do w/ lack of individuality, but individuality comes from inner confidence and trust of oneself. you cannot truly have and express individuality without letting go of fear. individuality is an introspective quality, yet we’re living in times where creativity & emotional expression within music are more extrospective than ever before in history. it’s no coincidence that in these times, US politics is peddling fear to the masses at an unprecedented level.

    if you look back during the last half to full century or so at all the music styles/genres/subgenres that were created, nearly all of them were influenced by drugs, particularly psychedelics. this has definitely been missing during the past decade or more. not that they are a requirement for true, timeless art/music, but it’s extremely challenging (and rare) for most artists to tap in at such an introspective, raw, primal level of emotion and creativity without them, especially if it’s not the current trend. the recent trend in all genres has been imitation of others, resorting to a highly intellectualized style of mentally applied emotion, heavy on the intellectual creativity with the sole purpose of creating something new for the sake of being original while abandoning emotion, and/or watered-down, less creative & emotional versions of music styles of the past. there is no more true underground subculture. it seems everything within these realms is a leftover, watered-down version of a previous underground. music has gotten less and less hypnotic & emotional and more and more intellectualized & insincere. not that there aren’t exceptions to this. there are always exceptions, but they have been so sparse and rare that they can’t possibly hold up the weight of the whole, even within their own subgenre. drugs dissolve the fear barrier, force you to let go of the intellect which intensifies emotion and primal, sexual feeling in the body, inspiring honest expression of what feels real & good to the body rather than getting stuck in cerebral, overly intellectualized concepts and superficial desires from excessive rational analysis and fear. the underlying and often very subtle, subconscious fear of what you think you cannot have, do, or be, results in the repression of your true self & individuality of expression, and in turn these contemporary music trends. repression of self-expression leads to regression.

  13. 13 Jul 2011 richard berger

    AOnce a spontaneous formation is “owned” by media through being named, the game is up, the accelerating spiral into the toi-toi begins. True with Victor Hugo’s cadres of supporters falling under the medias summation of them as “Bohemians” (50 years later there would be an OPERA on the subject, thusly with the initially derisive cubism, beatnik, hippy, etc. Once the establishment names you, you’re owned and the name takes on a life of it’s own.

  14. 24 Aug 2011 Richard love

    I can’t believe we all care this much about people we hate, what a waste of life.

  15. 24 Nov 2011 James

    I buy my clothes at K-Mart.

  16. 13 Mar 2012 Pikselite

    Nowadays, if you watch the scene.. The guys who rule the world, decides the fashion, creates the ads… they’re all hipsters.. sry guys :/

  17. […] enjoyed what another blogger had to say about the Adbusters article – summed up by the one-liner: “Some truth there, […]