Read Between the Lines: Hipsters Look Too Much Like “70s Elton John”

07/27/2009 3:32 PM |

cf50/1248722600-elton-john.jpgOur own Jonny Diamond already did a bang-up job explaining why people who complain about hipsters are guilty of far worse crimes than any of the people they’re complaining about. So normally I would have let this Pop Matters article by Micheal Brett pass by without comment. But then I realized his argument was basically that hipsters are totally gay.

They’re not angry enough. In fact, they’re a bunch of wimps.

Got it. Hipsters are weak and ineffectual.

They would unite and resurrect the fashions and music of the ‘80s. Leotards. Neon sunglasses. Painters hats.

And they dress weird!

Shows I went to became reruns of You Can’t Do This On Television. Before I found some of their trend-hopping mildly amusing even. No longer. Not when I was faced with audiences half full of people clothed like the short-bus kid down the street.

Oh, ok, and they resemble people who are either physically or mentally handicapped.

First, buy a mirror. If you own a mirror, for the love of everything which is sacred, please dress at a volume a couple scoches below ‘70s Elton John. Someday you’re going to be an adult, no matter how hard your parents try to prevent it.

Hipsters look like a younger Elton John.

Third, eat something.

Omigod, and they’re waaaay too skinny!

Fourth, listen to some heavy metal. I suggest Motorhead, but hell, you’re in such bad need to get rocked even Motley Crue is acceptable. Listen to it until your ears throb. Then make it louder. If you’ve followed my third point, go and break something. Feel the catharsis!

You know, they could have learned a thing or two from Fred Durst.

So there you have it. Michael Brett has written the most blatantly homophobic take-down of hipster culture ever published in a halfway respectable outlet—and Pop Matters’ claim that he’s their new “satirist” doesn’t even come close to getting him, or them, off the hook.

20 Comment

  • Michael Brett is important and wants you to know what he thinks about a host of unimportant things. PopMatters is about to need a greater bandwidth!

  • who the fuck is Michael Brett?

  • First, stating that I’m homophobic because I think that Elton John’s Donald Duck outfit at his Central Park concert was ridiculous is like calling me anti-semitic because I think Woody Allen is a creep. A grown male in a Donald Duck costume has nothing to do with sexuality. Last time I rode my bike down Halsted, I didn’t see any other gay male dressed up as a Disney character. So I understand that it is not indicative of gay men in general.

    As for your overall take on my column, we blatantly disagree over some major points. I point you in the direction of Jonathan Swift and the art of satiric exaggeration.

    But please refrain from calling people out as homophobes on such a public forum as the web. First, it discredits the cause of gay rights. Second, it makes you look like a tool.

    And third, if you did even a modicum of research before you tarred individuals you would discover quite easily that the the people behind PopMatters would never run anything homophobic.


  • Yeah, that Jonathan Swift essay about how we could alleviate hunger by eating hipsters, if only they weren’t so skinny — that’s a personal favorite.

  • Assuming we can agree that it’s fair to say satire is a method used to deliver criticism, perhaps you could offer some clarification regarding what exactly you’re criticizing. Since you cite exaggeration as the satirical device you used in this piece, I would assume, then, that your goal was to criticize people for making careless, insensitive jokes without realizing that they’re playing into dangerous, outdated stereotypes. But for a number of reasons (not the least of which being that you defended your Elton John joke and denied any cognizance of the fact that he’s a gay icon, and a very flamboyant one at that), I don’t really think that’s what was happening here.

    As far as I’m concerned, while trying to write a lighthearted piece about getting older and feeling a little bit out of touch, you made a bunch of jokes that you failed to realize were irresponsible and potentially hurtful. Then you hid behind a flawed understanding of a literary form as a defense.

    And I’ve been reading Pop Matters for nearly a decade, multiple times a week, and I think they publish some really great things. This doesn’t mean they’re not capable of making a bad judgment call every now and then, as they’ve done here.

  • So…let me get this straight. Any joke about Elton John is automatically homophobic?

    Are you serious?

    I think there are some openings for a music writer in the Tehran Times.

  • Oh, and lest I forget, as an esteemed and knowledgeable music writer, explain to me what Fred Durst has to do with metal.

    Writer rule number one: Write what you know.

  • You’re clearly not willing to engage in any real dialogue about this, which is fine. I shouldn’t be either.

    But to answer your first question: No, jokes about Elton John are not automatically homophobic. But when jokes about Elton John appear alongside slights at people for bold dress and alleged wimpiness, things become suspicious very quickly. Remember, you can be homophobic by accident.

    Oh, and your other question. There’s a Limp Bizkit song called “Break Stuff,” which I totally figured you’d have known. Or, wait… were you being satirical when you asked that question? Omigod, sooooo confusing.

  • ‘Become suspicious’

    So if you suspect someone of homophobia, does that give you enough evidence to write an entire column addressing my work as homophobic? And tarring the reputation of an entire publication?

    This is the kind of stuff that allows ex-journos to scoff at the standards of internet publications.

    And, more to the point about your profession as ‘music writer’, making a Fred Durst reference when the conversation is heavy metal music only shows the lack of knowledge you have of pop music. Elton John and Kiki Dee have a song with ‘Breaking’ in the title. Why not reference that?

    I would personally appreciate an apology on behalf of myself and PopMatters. The standards of journalistic integrity call for that in this situation.

    Unless you would like to explain how suspicion of intent allows you to besmirch fellow publications in a public forum.

  • You suggested that people go out and break something as a way to achieve catharsis (satire, though, obvs), which is the very same theme explored in Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff.” “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” is song about two people making a commitment to one another, and therefore wouldn’t have made any sense.

    You have besmirched my knowledge of pop music! And now I demand an apology!

    Look, I doubt you hate gay people. But you made the type of jokes that a person who truly does hate gay people would make, and I think you should be more careful about that.

    Have a good evening.

  • I look forward to other fine L Magazine columns with your byline, such as:

    ‘Hey Animal Collective, Why No Black Kids At Your Show?’

    ‘Why Borat & Bruno Prove Sascha Baron Cohen Is A Genius’

    or the five-parter that will knock their socks off:

    ‘I Finally Discover There Was Pop Music Before 1979’

    You and your publication are headed for fame. In the Internet Archives.

    A good evening to you as well.

  • PopMatters happens to be run by two out lesbians, so the notion that it would run homophobic content is quite laughable. Sounds like you’re reading things into Michael Brett’s column that simply aren’t there.

  • Ladies and gentlemen, as an old fogie I would like to state the obvious in a phrase I’ve never used before:

    This column is fail.


  • I can’t make up my mind- Ting Tings / Crystal Castles or Tool. Is this the place to ask?

    Maybe “hipsters” are reacting against anger and violence which is a plague on our (American) society?

  • Holy shit, are you serious? Did M Brett state anywhere in his article that he is homophobic? So you are assuming things? Please, if you are going to attack him do it in a NON-PUBLIC FORUM.

  • It’s true, most people clarify purposeful or inadvertent homophobic comments with the statement, “I am a homophobe.” Just look at Tim Hardaway!

  • Are people really suggesting that you can’t criticize a published and readily available column in Pop Matters on a public forum? Are you kidding? Once you put your content out there, folks, it’s up for scrutiny. If M Brett can’t handle the public nature of writing columns (including the occasional scrutiny), I suggest he write his columns in a composition book and that said composition book never leaves his bedside.

  • Dude, criticizing me as a d-bag is one thing. Calling me and the publication homophobes is completely another.

    Oh, and the irony of your comment when Mike’s whole column is basically stating that any Elton John joke or reference to wimps makes you a homophobe is not lost one me.

    But hey, payback’s a bitch.…

  • this is great guys! keep it up!