Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Somewhere, deep in the world of the people whose job it is to publicize concerts, there was once a conversation about how to make hipsters actually smile.
Market Research Dude: We have a problem.
Publicity Chick: We promote Indie bands, we have lots of problems.
Market Research Dude: No. This is something we’re never encountered in all of music history. It’s the hipsters…
Publicity Chick: Haha, of course it is (pours glass of scotch, on the rocks).
Market Research Dude: We give them free performances from the bands they pretend to like, free stuff – towels, keychains, Starbucks™ double shot espresso energy drinks – and we allow them to continue thinking their clothing is fashionable. But no matter what we do, they just won’t smile! Now the bands don’t want to perform in Williamsburg anymore because they say it’s (makes air quotes) “too awkward.”
Publicity Chick: Hmm, yes you’re right, this is critical. We need to find something that will fill their hipster hearts with joy. Perhaps something that reminds them of childhood – you know, before the mockery and ridicule set in; something big and fun and as colorful as all their converse shoes combined…
Market Research Dude: I’ve got it – beach balls. Several over-sized beach balls. Then they can engage in a mass volleyball game while grooving to tunes (in low voice to Publicity Chick) and we all know how much kids these days love to multitask (nudges Publicity Chick with elbow). If that doesn’t put smiles on those pasty white faces nothing will!
Publicity Chick: Brilliant. And did you hear? volleyball is the new kickball.
Initially, the plan appeared to work. When a beach ball is first introduced into a crowd of hipsters, there is sometimes cheering and even an attempt at participation as restless fans lunge for the opportunity to touch the beach ball. This is especially true when the balls are presented to hipsters waiting in line (for example, before the MGMT show at McCarren Park Pool when the doors did not open for approximately 1.5 hours after the advertised time). But after approximately 2 minutes of beach ball circulation during a show, hipsters lose all interest in the beach balls, becoming potential targets for rogue balls, which are heavier than one might think.
So despite music promoters’ efforts to liven the spirits of the forlorn hipsters, the beach ball idea turned out to be nothing but a severe annoyance.
At one McCarren pool party, an angry hipster chick standing next to me even went so far as to catch a beach ball and deflate it, attracting boos from a few surrounding hipsters with higher beach ball tolerance levels. This is profound because for a hipster to risk being ridiculed by her peers, and to disregard it when it occurs, there must be an incredibly strong motivating force, which beach ball anxiety appears to produce.
One explanation for this anomalous behavior is that the hipster may have conducted a rudimentary cost-benefit analysis, placing the cost of being ridiculed for deflating a beach ball at a lower magnitude than the benefits gained from avoiding the embarrassment that would ensue should she be struck on the head by a rogue ball.
Also irritating to hipsters is that whenever one of them purposely hits a beach ball into the press area or photo pit at a show, the oblivious photogs and PR apprentices throw them right back. This is done with patronizing graciousness, as if to say “you couldn’t possibly be enjoying the show like I am from back there, so you will probably want to play with this inflatable plastic ball.”
Photo by Jamie Killien.