Monday, August 31, 2009

Fear of a Hip Planet?

I've spent the past weekend wondering about the reader response to my post on the subway art party. Though I know the hipster issue is a controversial one, I was surprised by how many comments came with such a high intensity of violent rage--so much, I ended up declining quite a few.

I keep thinking: Why should hipster artists get more vitriol than the antics and behaviors of drunken frat boys, bachelorette partiers, Sex & the City clones, real-estate developers, etc., who have turned New York City into a gated suburban community?

Dash Snow

As TIME recently wrote, "Hipsters manage to attract a loathing unique in its intensity. Critics have described the loosely defined group as smug, full of contradictions and, ultimately, the dead end of Western civilization."

I've always had mixed feelings about hipsters. Some of them seem like just an alternative brand of vapid, super-consumers, while others seem like kids trying to do something creative in a city that no longer supports creativity. I often cannot tell the difference.

But there has long been some version of the hipster in the city--Beatniks, Hippies, etc. What's different now? Why the intensity of loathing today?

I have to think it's the state of the city itself.

Warhol & Basquiat, by Michael Halsband

If the hipsters had arrived in 1989, they would have moved into the East Village, LES, and Soho, decorated their lofts and walkups with neon paint and street trash, thrown parties where people dressed up in goofy costumes, and spent their days making mediocre, but earnest art. You and I might have been among them.

If Warhol came to New York today, he'd live in Brooklyn and his silver wig, tinfoil walls, and oddball friends would inspire mockery and rageful derision.

Because today, the city has been torn to shreds by hyper-gentrification, split into an "us and them" border war as neighborhoods and homes are lost year after year. Every newcomer is already suspect, whatever their intentions. People are hurting, scared, and angry. We've watched buildings fall, glass towers rise, favorite shops and shopkeepers vanish, friends and family get evicted. We've watched the city lose its soul.

To the defense of young hipster artists in this divided city: They've stepped in an unavoidable hornet's nest. It's common knowledge that artists are often the first to gentrify outlying territories, laying the groundwork for the upscalers who will push them out, too. But are they aware of their role in the process?

Ultimately, the question is: How does a young artist come to this city, as it is today, to make and display art that disturbs, delights, and de-stabilizes its viewers--as art should strive to do?

If hipsters are the ones bringing new and/or upsetting ideas in art and alternative culture to a city suffocating in suburbanism, shouldn't we at least engage with them?

Steccato's flickr


Anonymous said...

i will speak for myself regarding the hatred of hipsters (i am, by the way, a native new yorker). what disturbs me most about them is a big lot of them are actually pretty well-off white suburbanites that come to this city and make it their playground because they can afford to. they are wannabe "artists" and "musicians" who continuously make this city too expensive to live in and think the real flavor and personality of this city is just a novelty. sure there are the sex and the city clones and real estate developers, but those are the 30something's generation of hipsters. the scraggly dirty plaid wearing hipsters of bedford ave are the scourge of the 20something's. unfortunately, this city is getting more and more watered down as each decade and generation passes. i'm not old in the slightest and i don't recognize this city anymore.

Debbie's Daily Dose said...


You wrote: "Ultimately, the question is: How does a young artist come to this city, as it is today, to make and display art that disturbs, delights, and de-stabilizes its viewers--as art should strive to do?"

Maybe that is the core of the problem - NY is already disturbed and destabilized enough. It is frightening to people. The last thing any of us need is a bunch of perceived over-privileged bored "artists" invading our space.

Native NYers have already had our boundaries invaded by all manner of people - Yunnies, transplants, tourists, frat boys, etc. Hipsters in and of themselves might not be so offensive. Seeing some of the more exuberant and off-the-wall antics in a park or even subway platform can really brighten my day. But having them invade a subway car crosses a line (as exhibited by the responses to your previous posts).

I think too many of us have run across hipsters that are "just an alternative brand of vapid, super-consumers" and not enough of the "kids trying to do something creative in a city that no longer supports creativity" type.

I count a number of actresses and creative people among my friends. To me, these types of folks have always been a part of the tapestry of NY. In fact my neighborhood used to be quite a haven for poor actors looking for that big break. The difference is that they didn't feel the need to impose themselves on you. They didn't come off as over-privileged pains-in-the asses. Then again that might just be my perspective.

As for Andy Warhol - let's not get started on that one. In my opinion he was over-rated and deserving of a certain amount of "mockery and rageful derision". It's only because he's gone that he no longer evinces those responses.

Anonymous said...

I think you're reading too much into people's responses to the specifically irritating group in the subway art post. I found it odd, as I read the post, that you wound up using "hipsters" as shorthand to refer to them, rather than "artists" or "performers." I think the comments just picked up on your term, and in a lot of cases (not all) the vitriol was directed at this particular group (who sound really, really annoying on their own individual terms).

Also, in this post you conflate hipsters and artists, which is not quite accurate. Hipster is an extremely broad term, but for a lot of people it conjures up the trust fund kids roaming williamsburg dressed in boho chic.

Anonymous said...

I am a 44 year old native NYer and see no difference today from the past. New York has always been a city in violent flux. Neighborhoods are always in a process of gentrification and/or decline. There is always a new wave of young go-getters, dreamers, artists, posuers moving in and shaping the landscape. I used to worry about such things, they seems terribly important in the 80's. I now see it as a natural and organic process, and the only constant is change.
I now relax and go with the flow.

L'Emmerdeur said...

Why does everybody assume the hipster types from previous eras were any less hated than the current flock? Beatniks and hippies were LOATHED by the mainstream classes.

Sure, the reasons are different... perhaps not. The hippies were seen as unruly, spoiled, lacking in work ethic and immoral. Sure, many lived without the support of their parents, but it didn't cost much to live in NYC bck then, so it was much easier to pull this off. Furthermore, I suspect many a suburban mother secretly sent letters with hundred dollar bills to their kids in NYC, hoping it would "keep them out of trouble".

For many, a hundred bucks back then WAS rent.

Difference: the beatniks and hippies heralded and shepherded the deterioration of NYC in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. They were the ones moving in to neighborhoods in decline. The hipsters did the opposite. They moved in to neighborhoods at their nadir, and helped kick off their gentrification.

Anonymous said...

As a longtime reader infrequent commenter I have in the past been pushed to comment about “hipsters” before. Artists are artists, I have a few friends who belong to the art and fashion world who are by no means hipsters… when you have to try so hard to set yourself apart from others, you often waste quite a bit of creative energy on something that is not your craft.

Hipsters and trustafarians are by in large, non-contributing, self entitled wanna-be’s… I’ve used this before, but they are the panzer divisions sent in ahead of the blitzkrieg of destruction in this city. They all too often are also the standard bearers in how not to act and treat the places you live, perhaps even more so than many of the bros and frat dogs we love to hate. These people flock to NYC from parts unknown with readymade notions of what is cool and hip… nothing is organic, they never assimilate with this city, they treat it like another accessory to be discarded when its usefulness (or irony) has come and gone.

JackS said...

Okay, I think the comparison of the past to the present is a canard premise. The reason? Two things: First in the past NYC was not as crowded out as it is today and second credit cards—and easy credit—did not exist in the past as pervasively as it did today.

People tend to forget that living in lofts is a fairly recent construct. Perhaps popularized by Warhol, but nowhere near as pervasive as today. When folks moved into lofts in SoHo or Williamsburg or even DUMBO back in the day, nobody wanted to live in these depressed industrial zones. And I have clear memories of my childhood in the 1970s of walking around SoHo and lower Manhattan with my dad and knowing clearly there were factories there and no people lived there.

Nobody had any fantasies about things getting "better" perhaps maybe factories coming back. Artists I eventually met in the 1980s who lived in such places did so to create work and live cheaply and it was a tough going.

Now add the fact that few had credit cards or easy access to a trustafarian parachute and what do you get? People who want to make it in NYC but who still want to work and make an effort. Heck, without an effort you're gone.

Flash forward to now, and the idea of moving into a former factory is not unusual. Heck, it's a selling point! And don't have enough cash, who cares! Here's a credit card! Give your NYC dream a 5 year shot! Don't work off the debt, work the city and before you know it you will be taken care of!

And in the case of Warhol as an example, his most famous incarnation of the Factory was in Union Square, but he was even up in midtown as well. He jumped from place to place not to be trendy, but to just find a good/cheap/large space. And nobody saw his presence as a gentrifying agent. He and the Factory folks (Superstars and their ilk) integrated far more with their neighborhood than hipsters of today. Yeah, I'm sure people stopped and stared, but they never told their neighbors how to live. And yes, Warhol had an entitled life, but he didn't hide it away for "cred." It was well known!

That's another thing that's maddening with hipsters. There is this constant trend to lie about your background in hipsters nowadays that didn't exist as badly as it did in the past. Edie Sedgwick didn't hide her wealth. And man, I respect that beyond belief. Flash forward to now, and some American Apparel spandex and lip gloss wearing hipster who was inspired by Sedgwick will never admit their financial backing.

And yes, I know that hippies and beatniks were derided in their day and many were trustafarians as well, but not as many as now.

It's simply too easy to fake a Bohemian existence now. So move to NYC, strike a pose, go into debt and then move back home after 5 years.

Oh, and as far as modern artists go... It can be hard at times to differentiate hipsters from real working artists, but hang out around a few pure art environments and in a few days you'll be able to tell the difference. I love artists. They are truly working and making an effort and respect the world they are in far, far, far more.

Christopher said...

The hipsters did the opposite. They moved in to neighborhoods at their nadir, and helped kick off their gentrification.

Oh the processes are just sped up now, but the fact of the matter is the artists of the 70s and 80s helped preserve a city that the developers were ready to tear apart with ill conceived highways and mega projects.

And then? Well it worked.

Artists (and other educated marginal communities) are always the first wave of gentrification. The reason that Soho and the West Village and Tribeca are unaffordable today is because -- suburban kids (and they were almost all post-war suburban kids, although some, admittedly were GI-bill educated vets) returned to the city and started the publications and the organizations that saved the city from it's worse organizational vices: greed, overdevelopment, making a quick buck off of short term thinking.

And of course now that the former boomers and early Gen Xers are running the magazines and newspapers and the organizations -- well we forget the tensions, and there is a tendency to put their heros on pedestals. So we forget the battles and struggles and the derision the punks and hippies and beats faced from mainstream society.

There are simultaneously other things that are happening. One we've run out room for further and further suburban sprawl -- and the wisdom of those urban pioneers is understood. Transit links, walkable human scaled neighborhoods do work.

And so the disfunction that reined in the 60s and 70s -- the mafia involvement, the near backruptcy, which prolonged the decline -- has been more or less fixed. And so the city is back to the pace of the citybuilding phases of the early 20th century. When the pieces were working better when an influx of immigrants and decent enough city government built the city we love today.

Cities (NY or wherever) should be the place that embraces both its commercial nature and its refuge status for the outcasts of mainstream society -- whether they are the suburban middle class kids or the children of the upper crust that don't fit in their either.

WIll we see the decline of the 60s and 70s again? That made the NY ripe for discovery? Probably not. And that's also probably a good thing. (Hence artists are looking at the Detroits and Phillies and DCs and Pittsburghs of the world.)

The challenge is to find in NY for both. To look at the early 20th century and not the mid-century, perhaps? I think it's possible. People still move here. Educated like previous generations of artists. Not comfortable with their suburban homes. And probably not welcomed their either.

And like in the past, these tensions are part of the fabric of what makes it all work.

AndyPenetrationInc said...

"Hipsters," to me, is the derogatory term properly applied to those many perceived as, for lack of a better word, frontin.' I know and prefer to associate with creative types who entertain/challenge me. I suppose if I stepped back, some would unfortunately be tossed in the same dumpster as the hipsters we love to hate.

The difference I see is that these hipsters we hate are hated because almost everything about them is so self-consiously calculated to be unique, but at the same time is so fiercely clique-ish–so Hipster 101–it's laughable. Tack on a dose of baseless attitude (what, because your bestfriend's friend's friend is in some stank band?) and laughable turns to punchable.

But these are the bad seeds. The best way to get past any prejudice is to get to know people on a one-to-one basis. So, chat one up if you find yourself on common turf, say at a screening, art gallery, Howl festival, etc. He or she may turn out to be a creative soul, who, like most of us when we were that age, just doing what all the other cool kids are doing to fit in.

Technically, I was one back in college. I was an art major, wore nutty outfits, chain-smoked, and surely had an attitude. Today, the clothes are better, I hate smoking and the attitude, uh, well, let's just say it's more focussed.

And to hipster snots, I say, just because the person next to you is not tricked out in Hipster 101 gear, don't assume that he or she is clueless. New York is packed with creative, cool, smart people, many of whom have made it because they possess the backbone to not follow the pack. Next time that stylish older man gets on the L, think about it, his past may well be cooler and hit attitude far more, uh, developed (he sees right through you) than yours will ever be. Check him out, chat him up. Maybe he'll turn out to own that gallery you worship, to be the owner of the label you like or designed the costumes for your favorite "film," and maybe, just maybe, he'll happy to talk to grungy little you.

Anonymous said...

"If Warhol came to New York today, he'd live in Brooklyn and his silver wig, tinfoil walls, and oddball friends would inspire mockery and rageful derision."
No he wouldn't. Andy was a trailblazer and not a sheep.
He arrived in a city without an "alternative art scene" creating one of his own
Today's "avant garde" are merely a bunch imitators looking for a party because, after all, life is a music video.

Grand St. said...

When reading the initial post and comments, I recalled the groups of young guys who used to get on a train car, turn up the boom box and literally somersault down the length of the car, then pass the hat. (...and yeah, they did it in midtown Manhattan and I never once saw a cop break it up).

I wondered what made them different than the "hipsters" we've been discussing. Sure, they weren't white, but more importantly, they were clearly just trying to make a buck, not pretending to be cultural ambassadors of any kind.

That's the thing that galls me - do your thing, but stop trying to act like you're bringing civilization to the natives, like you're John Jacob Astor building libraries.

Anonymous said...

Dash Snow?

Just another pompous TRUST FUND HIPSTER who produced shitty "art" and made gentrified NYC his playground without having to worry about pesky things like bills, rent, and respect.

Anonymous said...

I was born & raised in New York City in a mostly Italian/Irish neighborhood.

When I come to Manhattan, in the East Village, Union Square, in particular, I feel like me and my friends are not accepted, because of our accents, or dress. I'm kind of old school and just wear regular jeans and sneakers. I don't go around with skin tight jeans and
converse all star shoes.

I guess the word fpr this is "pretension".
It's like back in the early 90's it was like the movie "KIDS". A bunch of jerks, but it wasn't like people who lived downtown were snobs. They were open minded.

I feel like hipsters are not open minded, they just block us out like we are ignorant and stupid people from lower middle class neighborhoods and backgrounds.

They wanna hang out in the ghetto, gentrify formerly poor areas like Alphabet City, but loathe being around the people who have been in that neighborhood way before they ever came.

I think it's actually the first time in history a class with money moved into the Lower East Side/East Village area.

As far as artists go, I've seen real artists, and I can tell you real artists like EVERYBODY. They don't form clicks and social circles that don't allow people in. That's why they are artists. They are open minded people.

These hipster people are closed minded and completely fake. I know this because I've hung out back in the day with graffiti artist, (I was one myself) and they are cool down to earth people.

The bottom line is we can't change anything, because they are already a certain way, and the high rents pushed out the real people.

Now everybody (the real artists, or starving artists) are moving upstate and out of New York altogether. That's the way I see it.

Anonymous said...

That guy in the picture looks to masculine to be a hipster. He actually looks like a real punk rocker.

Anonymous said...

Plus his shirt is to big. Hipster would wear extra small t shirt.

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks everyone for engaging in this discussion in a constructive and interesting way.

a few commented on the conflation of "hipsters" with young artists who just look like hipsters.

i imagine, back in the beatnik days, a lot of people grew beards, ironed their hair, put on black turtlenecks and Wayfarers--to be trendy, without it having any meaning (whatever meaning "beatnik" had at the time). and they were all thrown together under the "beatnik" label, which came to be reviled.

so how do we differentiate? are there "good" hipsters and "bad" hipsters?

Anonymous said...

Hippies are just as bad, in fact, hippies are the reason we have hipsters. Who do you think raised these kids?

Like every 'movement' I'm sure it started out with good intentions. Maybe if the hipsters did something other than 'create a dialogue' or hold 'art partys' they might be received better. If their personal philosophy had anything to do with real rebellion and encouragement of new thought- instead of just finding pleasure and creating an image- maybe they would be viewed differently. Or if they got to know and understand a community they moved into before deciding they should change it.

Also, most hipsters are not artists. This is not anti art, or anti rebellion. Its anti empty gestures.

I'm 22. And I resent that THIS is the youth movement I'm stuck with.

But I will say this: youth trends, in whatever form they take, are rarely welcomed by the public at large. The rage is nothing new- hipsters are (once again) not special in that respect.

Anonymous said...

"Why should hipster artists get more vitriol than the antics and behaviors of drunken frat boys, bachelorette partiers, Sex & the City clones, real-estate developers, etc., who have turned New York City into a gated suburban community?"

Because they are the consumers of that culture, and thus they feed it. There is no supply without demand.

Alexander said...

I would say... never judge people solely by their appearance. I know plenty of folk that wear what would be considered "hipster" regalia, and are intelligent, hardworking, artistic, and yes, BROKE. Likewise I've met people that wear the clothes that they think are cool and follow trends because they can't think for themselves. I've also met yuppie-types that were godawful, and pure-as-day "bro" frat boys that ended up being the sweetest guys you could want to know.

The list goes on and on... I would just say, much as another poster mentioned, not to assume people think or act a certain way, or that they have money or trust funds, just because they dress "hip." In any group of people, there will be cool and uncool people, great folks and total asses. That's just life.

Just as you would not want a "hipster" (or anyone else) judging you for your dress sense, why would you judge them for theirs?

snuggle bunny said...

There is no such thing as a "good" hipster b/c they are a subculture of wholly unoriginal people. They are niche hyperconsumers, and I don't think ANYTHING happens to NY as a result of hipster hatred in terms of how it affects the art scene...simply because they are not artists. Putting nose prints on canvas with fingerpaint and sending a picture home to dad so he continues paying your rent does not qualify one as an artist.

artzcritz said...

I'd just like to point out that this entire conversation is about a stereotype, and because it is, there can be almost nothing constructive said about the subject. The author here has offered the stereotype on a platter for everyone to react to, and all the reactions seem to fall along the predictable lines set up in the original post. There is no "hipster." There are only people that are labeled "hipster" because they fit a (usually external) stereotype. What's the point in discussing these prejudices? (Which is what they are.)

Anonymous said...

The strange thing is....they started arriving in droves AFTER 9/11. It's like SOMETHING BIG HAPPENED and they MUST be there (no matter how awful the BIG EVENT was)- NYC was in the news everyday and weirdly enough I honestly think the influx of hipsters thought it would be cool to be living somewhere so "dangerous", soooo, they all moved here and made it a freaking suburban mall. Go home boring nothing-niks....humbug.

Richard M. Knox said...

I wouldn't single out the "hipsters" per se. It's more symptomatic of a misplaced sense of entitlement that started with white upper-middle class America and has drifted across the socio-economic spectrum, across race and gender. Parents who have spent more time stifling their children's sense of exploration and wonder with bike helmets and self-esteem coaching, coddling them well into adulthood. The fact that these kids should grow up and want to become artists is no surprise... "you're special!" has been all they've ever heard. It's the self-absorbed malaise that really took hold with Post-War (WWII) America and, like a virus, has been passed on in more powerful strains to each successive generation. When every gesture of rebellion has been co-opted (even GG ALLIN), what else is there but smugness? Parents and kids get high together and get matching piercings... 40something parents (my age group BTW) buy their kids Jandek t-shirts and make sure that the kid asks politely if he can fire his squirt gun at another child, all the while complaining about how much Waldorf is costing them. I really feel for the next generation - They're doomed to endless Sonic Youth on Mom and Dad's iPhone...

JaneDoe said...

Greenpoint and Wburg were homes for generations of blue-collar types, who needed affordable housing.

Hipsters could not afford Manhattan and moved to these neighborhoods, and other blue-collar, low-rent neighborhoods.
They could pay more money in rent, displacing thousands of working class people. I guess a capitalist wouldn't shed a tear.

So, hipsters don't gentrify a barren neighborhood, like I and my friends did in SoHo in the 70s.
These bourgeois kids displaced and effectively made homeless working families and old people who lived there for generations, because that is all they could afford.

Only then did the Yuppies follow.
Hipsters-Yuppies, in the end the result is one and the same:
The wealthy dispossessing the poor.
Except I think the Yuppies feel worse about it.

Zach said...

The NY continuity all of you want to return has been hugely disrupted by a detonated cascading timebomb of economics external events internal politics technology compounded exponentially by greed/acceptance propaganda/ignorance action/delayed reaction. In the void media marketers developers broke down the wall containing your idiosyncrasies neighborhoods accomplishments and most importantly sense of place and sold you/it out. Literally. Result? The country (USA) took a roughly 30% controlling stake of your city diluting your holdings to peanuts and kicking you and your people off the board. (surviving interests include legacy wealthy & global transient super-wealthy) Hence your walking through your own graveyard every day.

Enter The Hipsters. Yes they're one clusterfuck of an outfit. Yes many of them are spoiled pillaging fools with mixed track records at best. But did you ever stop to consider they that only represent the first wave of an incremental rebirth? That the only reason that they are here and prominent right now is because they have sponsors?

There is a new crop of co-generationals in the pipeline who have either yet to earn their own way in or otherwise "grow" into the ability to exist here "the right way" -the way it should have been done in the first place - apart from the superficial mechanism controlled by the Yunnies, Yuppies whatever. This new crop is native bold innovative and loves to roll in the dirt. They look up to and respect what came before them and seek to continue on those traditions. The way New York has always done it. They will not rebuild what has already been broken. You will not begin seeing them for at least another 5 years at best due to the generational lag witnessed up and down all strata of society. They currently get no media coverage and yes some of them will take a bride or a tunnel to arrive here. The same way you did.

lenora jayne said...

I think before this discussion is even considered, it might be important to actually define the term "hipster".

What is a hipster?
Is it someone who is between the ages of 18-34? White? Parents pay for their rent? Dresses funny? Lives in a loft? How many people fit into this category without even realizing it?

I agree with ArtzCritz, it's impossible to have this discussion when it is based on a negative stereotype; there's no way it will end up anything but biased.

John M said...

"If hipsters are the ones bringing new and/or upsetting ideas in art and alternative culture to a city suffocating in suburbanism, shouldn't we at least engage with them?"

Well, there's a big part of the problem.

If they WERE bringing new and/or upsetting ideas in art and alternative culture to the city, that would be one thing. But they aren't. They're retreading old and not very interesting ideas, and are actually adding to the suburban suffocation by rubbing our noses in outdated 'artistic' concepts that seem oh, so suburban in their faux 'upsetting'-ness.

They're just not very good, not provocative, and not thought-provoking. Three strikes and all that.

How old are you, Jeremiah? Warhol and his crew were light years beyond these folks in the context of their time. I think if he were young today, he wouldn't even be here. He'd be in Berlin or something.

I love the blog, read it religiously every day. Keep up the great work.

esquared said...

Maybe if the hipsters start behaving in such negative stereotypes (like that condescending and offensive "Art Party" train), then maybe people wouldn't be stereotyping them.

The only ones biased are the hipsters themselves: they're biased toward to their own without realizing or being sensitive to the world outside of their existence.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I've had the same feelings/thoughts about the next generation that comes after the hipsters. As a 40 year old "Gen-Xer" (I guess) I felt that we kind of got the shaft as kids and even got our generational moment cut short a few years early by the millenials (1997, anyone?). My nephew was born in the 90s and is likely to ape the cynicism of my generation in about, oh 5 years or so. The social conditions are kinda the same as the end of the 80s: economic bust, a return to "meaningful" work, etc. We'll see if history repeats itself.

Very interesting.

boredwithdismissingothersasfake said...

some of my friends resent these so-called hipsters. some of my friends are hipsters. i think it strange that having money, or coming from money, or maybe more money, disqualifies one as an artist, as a person who exists in this world, relates to it, interacts with it, and reflects on it. maybe they haven't had -your- experiences, but i wonder what people really mean when they dismiss these hipsters are mere suburbanites invading nyc with their audacious inauthenticity. we have no idea what their lives are actually like. we don't know if they are bored. we don't know if they are EMPTY. we don't know what they are made of. but we just hear how much money, and we dismiss. we don't know exactly what being overprivileged is like. i am poor and bored. why do we use money + bored + "artist" as inextricable terms. and for those who think it is these hipsters that are the only ones with bias, hahaha. seriously. it's like new yorkers who talk about the south who've never lived there. who will boycott whole foods for someone stating an unpopular opinion, but will not flinch at unfair stereotypes, all the while creating boundaries such as legit, authentic, fake, wanted, unwanted. this shit makes me bored. and a lot of great films in recent years are about the shitty griminess of the suburbs. but the people who come from them have no story to tell other than that they are overprivileged, spoiled, rotten, fake right?

polkadot said...

The "hipsters vs. locals"-dynamic seems to be at work in other cities as well. Yesterday, I stumbled across this video on youtube:

It is set in Berlin, the city where I was born and raised. A chorus of native, working class Berliners (they can be identified by their heavy Berlin accent) makes fun of a "Szenetyp", a hipster. The complaints:
- You are not a native Berliner.
- You are funded by your parents.
- You are using the city as your playground.
- You are detached from the tough life of the "real" Berliners.
- If you get bored with Berlin, you will just move on - to places like Paris, Barcelona, or NEW YORK!

Sound familiar?

Jeremiah Moss said...

Szenetyp! i love German words. "hip planet" indeed. thanks.

Eric said...

JaneDoe, sorry, but I gotta call bullshit on your post.

Have you been to Williamsburg? There are plenty of industrial spaces that nobody wanted that have since been turned into studios and so on. The working families that have been here for generations have largely profited on these kids.

Implying that you and your friends in the 70s were somehow more right in where you decided to live is just plain arrogant. And honestly, I think the core of why people hate these kids so much is their arrogance, I know that's what bothers me.

And really, the only constant in NY is change, and I find it sad that you have lived here for quite some time and haven't realized it yet.

Leslie said...

I think what is most important is not the label that you would slap on people - hipster, sex and the city clone, wall street drone - but their relationship with the city that they live in. It seems a lot of people live here without thinking of it as their home. Like plenty of people have mentioned, using it as a playground and nothing more.

The city is definitely a playground to all of us at times - it's such a wonderful city and we are lucky to live somewhere where there is so much to experience - but there are a lot of other issues that someone who lives here should care about aside from where to go get drinks.

Like some have said in the comments, young people and their effect in gentrification is hardly a new phenomenon. It is a continuous cycle. There are plenty of people that might be labeled hipsters who care about their community, and those who don't. I'm just tired of hearing the word hipster, when's it going to go away?

Anyway, good post.

Anonymous said...

As long as people divide themselves up and hate one another, they will never see the essential commonalities and are thus doomed to suffer at the hands of others who benefit from this divide.

People, what are you doing? Find some common ground, talk to one another, human to human, stop prejudging, stop thinking that you are better and start uniting. It's easy to broadbrush whole groups of people, but it's not useful in the long run. It's easy to separate and stand divided, each side thinking they are better. It's nonsense. It takes true courage, true depth, true intelligence to find that common ground and come together to make the city a thriving, bright and bold metropolis.

Have we forgotten that this is one big beautiful country, not, 'my city' and 'you don't belong here.' Wth is that? We're not toddlers anymore. Why so grumpy? Why so stodgy? Why so elitist? People on both sides of the fence would benefit by getting off their fake high horses and looking each other in the eye, human to human and finding what's good about one another. If you don't, you deserve every stinking problem that comes your way, and they will. Divide and conquer, don't fall for it.

Anonymous said...

Same old same old human nature, divisiveness ruins the city more than anything because the city is about people thriving and to thrive means that we are happy for the most part and all getting along, excepting one another's superficial differences because we see the universal connectedness and sacredness of our bonds as humans to one another and to our home, this planet, not 'this city' and 'that suburb.'

You will see this pattern everywhere and it is so useful in dividing people so that they can remain in bondage and continue to be exploited by forces unnoticed, because we are too busy hating and being annoyed and we simply fail to pay attention to what's important. The following is from the book of Thoth...

"Who can blame men trained to habits of exactitude, or even simply well-educated persons, for hastily concluding that when so much palpable fraud lies upon the surface, there could hardly be truth if they should go to the bottom? The huckstering about of pompous names attached to idiotic communications has given the scientific stomach such an indigestion that it cannot assimilate even the great truth which lies on the telegraphic plateaux of this ocean of psychological phenomena. They judge by its surface, covered with froth and scum. But they might with equal propriety deny that there is any clear water in the depths of the sea when an oily scum was floating upon the surface. Therefore, if on one hand we cannot very well blame them for stepping back at the first sight of what seems really repulsive, we do, and have a right to censure them for their unwillingness to explore deeper. Neither pearls nor cut diamonds are to be found lying loose on the ground; and these persons act as unwisely as would a professional diver, who should reject an oyster on account of its filthy and slimy appearance, when by opening it he might find a precious pearl inside the shell."

J said...

Some thoughts:

The "problem" isn't with the city, it's with the art world. My parents were native NYers, born and bred. They recall with fondness seeing Miles Davis play, or seeing the opening night of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf". My parents (and their friends) were working-class, union members, but they could (and did) spend money on art that was at least comprehensible. I don't discount the economic changes in NYC and their effect on neighborhoods, but the aftermath of "conceptual" art means 1) that anyone can "do" art, by performing whatever stupid, random, or obnoxious act they deem "challenging" for their audience and 2) there's a huge gulf between "popular" and "high" art, which strikes me as a dangerous divide.

Second thought - I am neither a native New Yorker nor am I a hipster. I came back to New York--my parents moved to the burbs because they lived in genuinely dangerous parts of the city and wanted a safe life for me, which I THANK THEM FOR.

But I came back to make art -- theater, to be precise -- because I imagined that New York was the place to go to spend your time with challenging young artists. And in my experience with a limited circle, that has been true. But…

Here’s an example. I once attended an event, a staged “deconstruction” of T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland – whatever the fuck “deconstruction” means.

While we were waiting on line to get in, the director came out and was chatting with a friend or two who were standing near me on line. He was nervous (as directors are wont to be) and one of his friends told him to visit the bar across the street from the theatre to get a drink and calm down.

“I wish I could,” he said, thought for a moment, and had a new idea. He snorted. “I wish I could send the audience there so they could JUST RELAX. Because all they do is ask me what the play MEANS.” He rolled his eyes on the last word, and, as if on cue, lit a cigarette and huffed out the smoke.

I almost hit him. $12 dollars for my ticket and you didn’t bother working out what your show MEANS? Go fuck yourself. The show, as if on cue, sucked.

I've been very very lucky. I’ve never had to work with anyone like this; but I’ve been witness to enough behind-the-scenes art-world condescenion and contempt to know the following: If you don't believe that hipsters are condescending and exclude people and artists who are not willing to inhabit their particular vortex of random bullshit, you are sadly mistaken.

The people who ran that "party" called themselves "The Lowbrow Society for the Arts". Please. This dreck is as elitist as it comes.

First, it deigns to "bring" art to people, to "shake them up". How completely condescending. Second, it can't be bothered to be meaningful in any way that's important to its--literally--captive audience. If that shit ain’t highbrow, I don't know what is.

Either way, it's certainly not "art" -- unless you stretch the meaning of that word to mean "whatever the fuck I want it to mean".


Anonymous said...

No when young artists come to a city, like we did in the EV c. 1977 - they go to DETROIT. They go somewhere cheap. Hipsters are retard poseurs who want the bohemian life with the security of family money. Not the same thing at all.

Anonymous said...

people hate hipsters because it is selfish to spend all your time cultivating an 'image' rather than helping others- and now is not a time for selfishness. there is a frenzy to this time (which was not present in even the 80s or 90s) that looks upon all this as foolishness. now is not the time for selfishness, pettiness, whimsy, or artistic 'confrontation.' that era has passed, i think. that's why people are mad at these hipsters. they've got no sense of the times.