The Death of The Hipster
If you ever listened to something called blog house, or went to Crawdaddy back in the day, or if you've ever had a post-apocalyptic haircut, then today is a sad day. Carles, author of website Hipster Runoff, has auctioned off his blog to an anonymous bidder. Hipster Runoff is dead, and I can't help but feel the hipster has finally, finally died along with it. I felt a little sad when I read the news, in a very sincere un-hipster way. It felt like the death of something. I'm right in the middle of my twenties now, all aspirations to hipsterdom gone, but Hipster Runoff occupied a cultural space in my late teens, even if it was meant as satire.
The truth is I'd not looked at Hipster Runoff for a long time. I drifted away from Hipster Runoff, as aged badly, like old American Apparel leggings, and eventually it no longer fit. For a while Hipster Runoff served as a lifestyle guide, the way Ross O'Carroll Kelly was secretly more than satire for the rugby kids. The site skewered hipsters as much as it paid it them homage.
No one wants to admit to being, or having ever been a 'hipster'. But the evidence is there, online if you look for it, and written on me in my nose-piercing scar and my faded toe tattoo. I used to be a filthy hipster. Or at least, I tried to be one, probably too hard - which is why I was never very good at it.
Why do we hate hipsters? Is it because they're young and more idealistic than we are? Or is it because they're old and have more money than we do? It may contradict the youth and iconoclasm that hipsterdom once represented, but I think the only hipsters left in existence are our dads. 'Hipster' as a lifestyle is only affordable to those too old to be hipsters. The restaurants, bars and property rentals declared 'trendy' are beyond the reach of the young. My parents live in fashionable Ranelagh, and I live in unfashionable East Wall. I'm surrounded by young people, apparent fugitives from hipsterdom too, who work hard and struggle to cover the rent.
'Hipster' only ever existed as opposition to something, and for my generation the enemy was all too clear: Juicy tracksuits, Sports Science, Mean Girls quotes and 'OC parties' in far flung South Dublin suburbs. Being 'alt' was easy, you just shopped at Age Action and learned the words to Up the Bracket. Hipster apathy was always a defence against a world we found cynical and daunting: it's no accident that the hipster needs an excessive drink in order to express emotion, because really they're very young, and usually terrified.
I think having seen possibility wrenched away from us during the recession has made young Irish people abandon hipsterdom and value more important things, like working hard and getting it right the first time around. There's a kind of lipstick index to be read in the current obsession with small, disposable extravagances like burritos or artisan coffee. We just want the basic nice things, like good food, an iPhone and professional dentistry.
Hipster' has metamorphosed into something hyperbolic and freakish, constantly stunting for tweets. Footballers with man buns. The new season of Girls on HBO and all its unfeasible plot twists. Witness the opening of a Belfast restaurant dedicated to serving crisp sandwiches, as if meant as a rejoinder to the cereal cafe in Shoreditch. Marketers have hijacked 'hipster' and made it a business model, aimed not at hipsters themselves but at curious oldies and impressionable children.
The hipster has been declared dead many times over, every year or so for the last few decades, but in Ireland we're dealing with a slower rate of change. It was only in 2007 that Topman arrived on Grafton Street, bringing with it permission for men to wear something other than bootcut jeans. And now the rake-thin Hedi Slimane-approved hipster male has given way to something with broader appeal: the hipster who is also tanked. Less 'lumbersexual' than actual lumberjack, or rugby player, or MMA fighter, the brawny hipster has even earned his own neologism, the 'spornosexual', courtesy of journalist Mark Simpson. Conor McGregor exemplifies the 'spornosexuality', appropriating hipster tropes–the man bun, the chest tattoo but swapping out mumblecore for machismo. The man looks like a telegenic viking, equal parts feral and family - friendly.
I can't say how people younger than me, the real life emotional teenagers feel about the end of the hipster, or if they even cared in the first place. Maybe a new Carles will emerge, in the form of a Tumblr or a Weird Twitter account. Or maybe not, because their parents are the ones who care about being hipsters instead. Maybe hipsterdom was always an illusion. Back when I was doing my Leaving Cert, I remember Urban Outfitters used to sell t-shirts emblazoned with 'Die Yuppie Scum'. In the light of their recent slogan shirt-related scandals, I suspect they'd never get away with it now, but today it seems so gleefully inept it's endearing.
Part of me is glad to see Hipster Runoff go. All those layers of irony were confusing, like I'd lost track of what happiness was. There are no prizes for apathy, and the ones who tell you they don't give a fuck always have the most fucks to give. We are all 'lamestreamers' now, and the sincere joke that was hipsterdom is over.