Hipsters and haters: A carol of criticism

Steve Nordin

Within minutes of the news of Osama bin Laden’s death being announced Sunday, people logged on to Facebook to share their original and important opinions.

They are as follows:

1. I am glad that Osama is dead. I also experience somewhat strong patriotic feelings for the United States.

2. I acknowledge Osama is dead. I don’t feel comfortable about the use of coercion.

3. I dislike statuses about Osama on Facebook. I find them rather annoying.

As an amateur enthusiast of drying paint and growing grass, the first two statuses were of great interest to me, as you might imagine. However, I believe that the last is worthy of examination.

The eye-rolling at the conflicting reactions can be justified. I acknowledge that high school classmate Angus “Bubba” Schneider’s opinion on the matter likely will not affect foreign policy.

There seems to be a bit of a contradiction in complaining about private opinions being posted on Facebook… via Facebook.

This seems an appropriate moment for a discussion of “the hipster” to enter, as this particular Osama phenomenon seems to represent a broader cultural attitude of omnicriticism.

First, some caveats: I am not a hipster. I do not know exactly what one is. Growing up in rural Wisconsin, usually classmates would dispense with complex subcultural categorizations for an all-encompassing epithet.

If you are a hipster, I do not wish to offend you. However, as no proper hipster would ever admit to being one, I think I’ll dodge the negative response seen to last year’s “Dumb Jocks” editorial in this publication.

At the risk of being pelted with vinyl records and burned in flannel effigy, I will assert that hipsters are not individualists and their assertions to the contrary are self-deluding.

Why the constant superficial striving for “authenticity”? Why the criticism of that which is either traditional or popular? When has it been acceptable to loudly complain about the party when the PBR runs out, and yet not leave?

I believe that hipsterism is inherently contradictory.

In order to avoid the conformity and bourgeois values of consumer culture, they wear the same clothes, drink the same beer and listen to the same music — which is marketed and sold to them.

They carp about the political situation in Washington, yet refuse to vote for politically significant candidates, if vote at all.

They deplore sweatshop labor and dispassionate cost-benefit strategies used by mainstream clothing firms, yet purchase American Apparel, whose CEO, Dov Charney, possesses a notorious reputation for unabashed sexual harassment in the workplace.

They presume their opinions are correct, just because others’ opinions are flawed.

To be a hipster is to point a finger at the world and be surprised when the world points fingers back at you.

“But wait,” the thus-slandered and skinny-jeaned multitude may protest, “Steve Nordin is yet another unthinking, Polo-bedecked, bourgeois man-of-action conformist. He is a hater.”

This is true. I possess no pretentions to be something that I’m not, yet how does this logically justify your lifestyle as “better” than mine?

Not only do they contradict themselves, but they also ruin Gordon Lightfoot’s legendary ballad, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” through their ironic dancing.

Hipsters are cultural cannibals. If their despised “mainstream” didn’t exist, neither would they. There can be no reaction sans primary action. They claim moral superiority through the failings of our culture, yet refuse to acknowledge the negatives of their own.

I must pause. Does writing an editorial criticizing critics fix anything? Is this piece’s very existence a contradiction that weakens my argument?

Maybe. I’ll let the Djarum-smoking and self-proclaimed intelligentsia work that out.

As for me, I continue to scoff at their wimpy facial hair and assert that the vinyl does not significantly improve music quality, especially when it sounds like small mammals dying — acoustically, of course.

I’ll keep popping my salmon-colored Polo collar and let my “hater” flag fly.