Monday, September 28, 2015

What even is a "hipster"?

Trends are dumb and boring people with social ambition are often suckers for expensive trends that make them feel cool or important or "creative" or whatever.  So, sure, I guess that's annoying. 

But, really, pop culture is just inane by definition and has always been thus.  So it's really not worth anyone's time to obsess too much over whatever specific inanity is currently in fashion. Or, at least, it's not really worth blaming fashion for the real life problems we associate with it.
The original definition of gentrification, as coined by Ruth Glass in the 1960s, was not about extravagant beards, coffee houses and fixies – it concerned housing opportunities, and the lack of them: an area is being gentrified when the housing options of the middle-classes expand and those of working-class communities diminish, leading them to be displaced elsewhere. There is a cultural dimension to the process too, but it’s an accompaniment to the main event.
Even if you hate hipsters, the problem with your city is not hipsterism. It's economic displacement. 
Capitalism can’t get enough of hipsters and creatives; not least because it needs them to sustain itself – a revealing press release I found issued by a “hipster property agent” earlier this year began: “Hipster boutiques and eateries are sliding further into the City [of London] … there’s a growing appetite for independent shops and cafes. This is driven in part by people’s obsessions with London’s creative scene and a growing apathy for identikit high streets and mainstream brands.”

Hipsters are the honeytrap, the property industry’s stimulus package; that doesn’t mean they get to eat all the honey. That sticky privilege belongs to landlords, to property developers, to local councillors moving seamlessly into well-paid jobs in “development consultancy” – in the end, not to young white men with beards, but middle-aged white men in suits.
Trendy yuppies are pretty terrible, but that's their business. If they weren't also being used as waypoints for real estate profiteers, they wouldn't really bother me at all.

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