David Bowie? Too soon. Tupac? Too soon. Buddy Holly? Still too soon.

Bono or Kanye West? Go right ahead.

No dead Bowie jokes, please.
  • No dead Bowie jokes, please.
  • Photograph by Adam Bielawski

Dear Hipster:

In the world of perpetual hipster irony, what, if anything, is sacred anymore?

— Dave B.

You might be forgiven for thinking that our cultural moment, which in its time has boasted such insensitive occurrences as Hipster Hitler and other such “too soon” jests, respects no boundaries when it comes time to crack funny at the expense of others. But, like the sword-dueling immortals in the Highlander franchise who will not fight each other on “holy ground,” even the most jaded hipsters adhere to a kind of code placing certain subjects off limits.

Some things are exactly as you’d expect: you never laugh about adorable kids with terminal illnesses; even the ugliest, most ill-tempered stray dogs get a pass on account of their status as the victims of animal abuse; and any joke about slavery never lands well so don’t even try no matter how funny you are.

There are some hipster-specific taboos. The most noteworthy one is probably how it’s always too soon to joke about dead rock musicians. David Bowie? Too soon. Tupac? Too soon. Buddy Holly? Still too soon, even though homeboy has been dead considerably longer than I’ve been alive.

It doesn’t have to be a dead beloved rock star such as David Bowie. Even musicians most of you never cared about — such as the singer from Linkin Park, or half of Lynyrd Skynyrd — remain off limits for hipsters, because even a musician you don’t care about is still cooler than 99 percent of humanity. Of course, this prohibition doesn’t apply to living musicians. You want to take a dig at Bono or Kanye West? Go right ahead. I won’t stop you. But once they die, that’s it. Untouchable.

Dear Hipster:

So, I bought at a GW the other day what I thought would be the coolest thing ever: a hand-cranked pasta maker. I was so excited about it. I had all these great visions of hosting dinner parties where I would serve handmade ravioli, stuffed with exotic meats and cheeses, to my friends; all of whom would compliment me. It would have been wonderful. Anyways, what a pain in the butt. It turns out making your own pasta involves a staggering amount of work. I am disinclined, but at the same time I feel this weird sense of guilt over not wanting to put in the effort, like somehow I’m failing some hipster test. Is this what life has come to, a constant game of keeping up with the hipster Joneses? If so, something has certainly got to give.

— Perfectly Happy With Trader Joe’s Ravioli

Lots of things are like this — appealing on the surface, but maybe more hassle than they’re worth in the long run. For example, you might consider getting yourself a parrot. You could teach it to sit on your shoulder, and squawk at passers by. You’re a pirate now! That would be cool, right? Yarr...if’n you don’t overmuch mind the bird shit and claw marks, that is.

Of course, some people don’t mind the bird shit. It’s totally worth it to them, because whatever peculiar value they derive from the activity more than offsets the costs. But keep in mind it’s always better to find something worth it to you than it is to go around worrying about the parrots you’re not carrying around on your shoulder.

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