Monday, April 28, 2014

Conspicuous consumers of trendy luxuries

There. You can stop asking, "What even is a hipster?" in that fake know-nothing voice the guys asking this question all the time like to adopt.   The core of it is the mass marketing of a stratified society where the ostensible "counterculture" look actually signifies high status.
The urgent need of our age is not individual self-actualization or even a really innovative artisanal cocktail; it is to hold on to that middle-class society the counterculture thought was so soulless and unfulfilling. All the signifiers have changed. Today corporate managers routinely declare themselves to be disruptive and revolutionary fellows, while average, uncool workers fight desperately to hang on to their pensions and healthcare benefits. The symbolic poles of our world have been completely reversed, and it is time we recognized it: flat-accented Wisconsinites and dowdy suburban moms and mulleted union guys, all of them watching their world fall apart, often show a kind of bravery these days that is far more transgressive than anything you will see at Fashion Week this year. Or ever.
This is not, in fact, a new phenomenon.  Tom Frank (quoted above) has been writing about this sort of thing for some time

It's strange to me that every 20 years or so the latest incarnation of yuppie fadism is treated as a mysterious new thing.

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