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Of course this descriptor makes about as much sense as "corporate hippie," but whatever value it lacks in coherence it more than makes up for in marketing power. Giant corporations want the hipster dollar, and they salivate at the idea of a "mainstream hipster," a minor league tastemaker with major disposable income. Never before has the distance been so small between the counterculture and the corporation, and Lorentzen has every right to be angry, scared and sad, all at the same time. Fuck, we should all be worried.
But we shouldn't let our fear and disgust with "hipster" marketing lead us to a Bedford Avenue scorched-earth policy. And here's where we get to terminology; here's where we try to salvage the idea of the hipster.
Gawker recently tried to replace "hipster with "fauxhemian," as if the two were synonymous. They are not. While fauxhemian is a useful term for the thousands of young professional types who rent their way through gentrifying Brooklyn on the way to fully realized yuppie lives, it excludes the very people I'm talking about, the people I'm trying to defend. The "fauxhemian" is just a young city-dweller gravitating to whatever signifiers of youth counterculture happen to bubble up through marketing filters. The fauxhemian can't (and doesn't want to) commit to a real hipster lifestyle because they're too worried about being on time for work or saving money for downpayments on a home. And that's ok. This is what people do. Good, smart people.
But these good, smart people are not hipsters. The people Lorentzen wants dead aren't hipsters either (and don't try to call them "mainstream hipsters").
The hipster I'm talking about—the definition I'm trying to get back to—is an obsessive curator of her own life: from fashion and art to drugs and rock and roll, the real hipster is a voracious consumer of culture in constant search of new routes to beauty and truth, ways of forestalling death, of fighting back against the inevitable compromises of time and age. The real hipster is desperate to remain one step ahead of convention, to make art from life and life from art. She is a collector and a collage-artist, aesthetically adventurous, intellectually playful. Do not blame her for the marketing commodity her lifestyle becomes six months after she's lived it.
So let us embrace Gawker's "fauxhemian" category, and let it apply to what Mr. Lorentzen's real estate guy would call the "mainstream hipsters." But let's not abandon the "hipster" altogether, because they are still out there (even if we don't yet know their names), taking risks, experimenting, making it new—and we are all better for it.
Hipsters Throughout History: The Definitive List
A brief polemic against the lists we make...
Jan 25, 2011