Crossing an invisible line

These days, it’s Forged in Fire marathons and conspriacy theories

Why do they still call it this?
  • Why do they still call it this?

Dear Hipster:

Although you’ve always made it abundantly clear there is no one-size-fits-all definition of hipster, we can all agree that hipsters are largely identified by what they do, whatever that may be. Some magic combination of sociocultural values, socioeconomic trends, and ridiculous fashion choices adds up to hipster; and it’s fine if nobody can pin down exactly what factors constitute either sufficient or necessary conditions for hipsterness. I’m curious about the inverse principle. I would imagine that if one stops doing hipster stuff, sooner or later one crosses some invisible line where the name no longer fits. Where’s the line? Trading in the fixie for a used Corolla? Going to a bar and having one of those alcoholic “hard seltzer” clear malt beverages instead of a craft brewed IPA? Making Folgers in your Mr. Coffee coffee maker? Purging your resume of any references to your short-lived art house DJ career? At what point does a hipster stop being a hipster?

— Terry, Crown Point

I doubt it’s a bright line thing. I think it’s one of those “You don’t realize it’s happening till it’s already happened” kinds of things, like going grey, becoming addicted to heroin, or having your theological monarchy slowly undermined by rebellious internal factions who seize power in a bloody coup. Think of it in terms of the History Channel. As you may remember, the History Channel once featured programs about history. At least, it showed lots of programming about World War II, which is admittedly a substantial part of history if you take a somewhat myopic perspective on things. These days, it’s Forged in Fire marathons and conspiracy theories, but they still go on calling it the History Channel, even after the connection to actual history has become tenuous at best. At some point, it’s just going to change its name to the Swords and Conspiracies Channel. Nobody really knows when that will happen, but when it finally comes to pass, everybody will think, “About time!”

Dear Hipster:

Hipsters have been so successful in resurrecting trends — although it annoys some of us old farts when hipsters act like they “discovered” something that has been around forever, like making coffee one cup at a time, “mom” jeans, and the utility of Mason jars. Annoyances aside, I love a good cultural revival. What should we try to “bring back” for 2019?

— Denise

Let’s bring back super-geometric, artificial-looking design, so 2019 looks like the future as people once imagined the future would look. It will be the first step in redeveloping our sense of positive futurism before the next decade sets in. The dominant aesthetic of the 2010s has been organic, but living in an earth toned world has made people too nostalgic and folksy. Hipsters have focused on preserving the past, which has been great for the reclaimed wood and second-hand vinyl record industries, but the job of planning the future has too frequently fallen into the wrong hands. When I poll my hipster friends about the future, they make dystopian pronouncements, echoing an admixture of Ray Bradbury and William Gibson. Visions of a “bright future” seem to have died out with brightly colored geometric design, and maybe bringing back the latter will let us remember what it was like to believe in the former.

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