Hating on Hipsters

hipster.jpgThe New York Observer has a follow-up on Saturday’s n+1 panel:

[Christian] Lorentzen, who penned a polemic called “Why The Hipster Must Die” for Time Out New York
in 2007, declared the idea of the hipster a great fraud, and said he
had come to apologize for his part in it. “No member of my family, no
close friend, no enemy, no rival, no dance partner, no party guest, no
barkeep, no doctor, no lawyer, no banker, no artist, no guitar player,
no deejay, no model, no photographer, no author, no pilot, no
stewardess, no actor, no actress, no television personality, no robber,
no cop, no priest, no nun, no hooker, no pimp, no acquaintance known to
me, has ever been a hipster,” Mr. Lorentzen said.

“The fraud held that there are people called hipsters who follow a
creed called hipsterism and exist in a realm called hipsterdom,” he
continued. “The truth is that there was no such culture worth speaking
of, and the people called hipsters just happened to be young, and, more
often than not, funny-looking.”

Rest of the piece here. So does he no longer think Mailer was prescient in his prophecy of the coming hipster class? Here’s what he had to say a couple years ago, looking back at “The White Negro”:

But plenty of what Mailer prophesised has come to pass. He predicted
either widespread rebellion marked by violence, or that “Hip would end
by being absorbed as a colourful figure in the tapestry.” As it
happened, the absorption came after the rebellion. Mailer saw the
hipster class which he estimated at around 100,000 “politicians,
professional soldiers, newspaper columnists, entertainers, artists,
jazz musicians, promiscuous homosexuals, and half the executives of
Hollywood, television, and advertising” as a rebel elite that had
succeeded the radical Marxist elite of the 1930s at a time when dissent
was no longer safe. Whereas Marxism is now less seditious than
laughable, the rebel aesthetic has been absorbed and co-opted by the
only elite we have left the wealthy.

It seems hardly a week passes that we aren’t subjected to a profile in New York, the New Yorker, or the New York Times Magazine
of some courageously trend-bucking tycoon rebel. Whatever violence is
left isn’t perpetrated by hoodlums in candy stores; it grinds away
quietly behind the phrase global capitalism. Meanwhile, the character
who in the style pages and the service magazines appears under the name
hipster is distinguished mostly by the eccentricity and capriciousness
of his consumption, repopulating blighted neighbourhoods and ironically
reappropriating exhausted cultural artefacts. The menace is gone, but
the hipster remains now as merely the most colourful figure in the
tapestry of commerce.

Rest of that one here. To me, Lorentzen sounds like a disillusioned believer.

Previously on AHNY.

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