Thursday, August 14, 2008
When one spots a hipster on the street, his first inclination is rarely to strike up a conversation. Given hipsters’ sullen facial affect and copious amounts of street cred-earning tattoos, they are generally viewed as standoffish and even mean.
More recently, they are sometimes even referred to as “the new jocks.” This label incenses hipsters for a variety of reasons. For one, it is inaccurate; while jocks have measurable talents, hipsters do not posses talents beyond sleeping until traditional dinner hours, binge drinking and pimping their myspace profiles.
Another reason this title bothers hipsters is because they do not acknowledge themselves as oppressors. In fact, their whole image is based on being oppressed. If they were known as oppressors, they would lose their ability to receive benefits from society like being given “the benefit of doubt” when they don’t show up for work and second chances in relationships where the significant other “just doesn’t want to hurt” the hipster. This is similar to how blacks are now losing affirmative action privileges since they are viewed as a threat in workplace power hierarchies.
Also, hipsters had to endure socially-acceptable torture from jocks in their fragile years of adolescent development, AKA the “awkward phase.” In fact, jock harassment is partially responsible for the birth of the modern hipster (which would cause hipsters to hate jocks even more if they ever acknowledged that). After launching a high school and early-college rebellion (which consisted of not caring what “those assholes” thought, scamming on jocks’ girlfriends and blasting punk music in the parking lot), the jock was ousted from his spot at the top of the social ladder. (Note: Some jocks will vehemently deny this claim, using their fraternity status as proof of sustained status, but the fact that they must now spend thousands of dollars to immerse themselves in these realities of alternate cool – which are similar to WoW and Second Life – to feel superior is objective evidence against their case.)
All the while this was happening, however, the hipster went about life unaware that this transition had occurred, as is the case with most other things involving hipsters and their place in the world. That is why, as you can imagine, some hipsters are shocked and appalled to be equated with jocks. I say some because the majority of hipsters, not identifying as such, have jumped on the bandwagon with this train of thought. They can be heard wholeheartedly agreeing that hipsters are just like filthy jocks.
But there is a logical flaw in the comparison of hipsters with jocks that may alarm you because of its counterintuitivity: Hipsters are not actually mean, they are just really awkward. Their outward appearance of angst and annoyance is really just the physical manifestation of the hipster’s inner awkwardness.
For example, if a male hipster is considering talking to a female of interest, the female will likely notice the male scowling in her direction. This is because the hipster is weighing the possible outcomes of an interaction. You see, due to the years of jock-bullying during adolescence, hipsters have developed warped negative self-images and anticipate their interactions to end in some form of awkwardness. Evolutionarily, this defense mechanism has developed as an adaptive way for hipsters to save themselves from embarrassment, which would further weaken their self-images. But this plan also works against hipsters, as it thwarts social interactions and decreases their chances of mating.
To understand the hipster’s thought process in situations of potential human interaction, watch this video that was recently posted on FREEwilliamsburg.com, the hipster’s equivalent of The New York Times or Reuters.
As you can see, pervasive fears of awkwardness in the hipster’s psyche account for many additional hipster behaviors that are often misinterpreted as “snubbing” someone. These behaviors manifest in scenarios involving going to restaurants, riding elevators and all social interactions in general.
Let me just say, this video was filmed in Williamsburg for more reasons than one.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Over the past 10 years, the town of Williamsburg has become the latest magnet for high-income business people, driving property value and the cost of living way up for all, including local Puertorriqueño, black and hipster populations. As a result, crime is at an all-time high (note: I really can’t verify that statistically, but two people definitely got stabbed with machetes by a gang in the nabe recently.)
When asked if the victims were also gang members, a police officer stationed nearby the scene replied, “Nah, they were probably some kids from Oklahoma who started shit with the people who have lived here their whole lives.”
While hipsters have multiple tattoos and like to dress “hard,” they are not actually skilled with martial arts or weaponry. It is likely that in this case, and many other gentrification-driven acts of violence, hipsters have been wrongfully targeted and blamed by those in financial duress, who confused them with the corporate tools who work so much they don’t even have the opportunity to walk around the streets after 10 pm to get attacked.
If there is one thing hipsters hate more than being victims of violent crime, it is being confused with young professionals. I mean, they wear nothing but navy pantsuits and topsiders.
Thus, hipsters view gentrification as a serious issue.
Aside from being offended by mistaken associations, hipsters naturally clash with the corporate-attire wielding market researchers and investment bankers slowly filling the luxury condos and artist lofts. This is not necessarily because hipsters are morally opposed to the corrupt processes that these people willingly feed with their employment, but because their oblivion is soo ironic it hurts a hipster’s mind to think about. The whole point of living in an artsy slum is to be able to work 3 shifts a week at a shitty coffee shop and have money for rent, drugs and concert tickets. But the gentrifiers in Williamsburg work 40-hour weeks and listen to bands like Bon Jovi, missing out on the finer points of the location they are co-opting.
Kristen Reynolds, 24 who recently moved to Williamsburg from Portland and works at a local restaurant, put the situation nicely:
“I mean, why should I have to take out more money from my trust fund in order to be able to live near some professional stock loser? I would rather be mugged than hear Elton John through my wall.”
Torn between living in immediate danger and immediate wet-towelness, gentrification has forced the hipsters to retreat to the north, unofficially designating “red zones” where hipsters are ill-advised to live. These zones can be seen by this carefully rendered map:
Hipsters also do not like gentrification because some righteous hippies on city council are using it as an excuse to close McCarren Pool (and by close I mean spend millions of dollars to make it an actual pool again). See the third thing Hipsters Don’t Like for more on this.
Map editing by Lola Wakefield for Stuff Hipsters Don’t Like ©2008