I would say the opposite: the problem with "hipsters" is precisely that they are pathologically well-adjusted, untroubled by sexual anxieties or financial worries.Uh... well, yes, that is precisely the problem with hipsters, no argument there, but this in fact is in firm agreement with McInnes' assessment of anti-hipster sentiment. Minus the "chubby blogger" snipe, of course.
But this puzzling misstep aside, Mark gets it absolutely right and cuts to the chase far quicker than I did: that such blasé hedonism & luxuriant narcissism can't possibly produce any worthwhile art. "The very seamlessness," Mark writes, "of these unalienated, guilt-free lives leaves no material for sublimation." Which, again, would put us in agreement with McInnes: yes, we are angry with these kids for getting wasted, having fun, and being fashionable because their vapid bacchanalia will give birth to sweet fuck all.
The Gavin McInnes' quote presupposes that resentment against the Last Boys and Girls is somehow illegitimate. But it strikes me as a classic case of good resentment - precisely the kind of resentment that, unlike the hipster's studied weltschmerz, could motivate the production of interesting art and culture.That is the 24-karat nugget of Mark's piece: "When youth culture was interesting it was because of alienation, not pleasure-seeking." Lack, want, frustration, anger, resentment - these are the tools of anyone seriously intent on ripping open a seam and seeing what spills out.
Douglas Haddow's article was hardly a groundbreaking bit of sociocultural journalism. It was badly written, researched worse, and (by the twist-ending switch from third- to first-person) percolating with histrionic self-loathing. But the sensational headline - "The Dead End of Western Civilization" - is a succinctly perfect damning of hipsterism's artistic sterility. So, being fairly confident that we can write off hipsterism as a source of sublimation, where do we turn? Mark suggests that "Metal, Goth and even, God help us, Emo, are still animated and enervated by that sense of abandonment and maladjustment." I'd add Punk to that list, though I'd consider this list a registry of foregone opportunities. Any revolutionary potential these subcultures once possessed has long since ossified into stylistic orthodoxies as uninnovative as hipsterism's gluttonous nihilism. Even Emo, by a decade the baby of the subcultures, has become so conservatively defined that it can be legally targeted with laser-accuracy by culture-warriors in the Duma. Absent the presence of some supermassive oppositional Other, what is rebelled against becomes smaller and more localised, eventually winnowing subcultures into sectarian bickering ("Death to false metal," East Coast/West Coast, etc.). The revolutionary impetus is replaced by codifying an aesthetic.
A friend who's been following the above furor agreed that the debate too often turned towards specific signifiers, accessories, fashions - a tunnel-vision that not only misses the bigger point, but gets really dull very quickly. In declarative all-caps, my friend wrote to me, "ANY FUTURE CONVERSATION MUST BE ABOUT THE THINGS WHICH ARE AT STAKE." This is the best tactic, as it keeps to focus above petty symbols and stylistic bias. No taxonomic nitpicking, no trend-oriented trainspotting. The revolution will not be symbolised.
"If you're out there, and you're beautiful, maybe you're cute... there's more of us ugly motherfuckers than you."Non-sequitorial Postscript: David Berman of the Silver Jews perfects the art of talking too much about your own art and makes the curious claim that he titled his new album What Is Not But Could Be If because "the language that looks really plain on the album is actually completely Google-pure." You sure about that, Dave?