By Paul Casey
The first sign that you are a hipster is that you cannot stop using the word “hipster.” In conversation, your thoughts turn to those angles and rimmed glasses and how their love of Animal Collective makes them inauthentic. They’re false. You’re the real deal. You get hard at the thought of real music that gets to the heart of the matter. You think of yourself as open-minded but the need to attack that music you see as inherently wrong brings on physical discomfort, until you can release it on some misguided soul who loves Kenny Loggins without irony.
“Hipster” is rarely self-applied. It is a put-down, and those who use it with venom do so not to mock the pomposity of uptight jerkwads who JUST CAN’T BELIEVE THAT YOU DON’T FEEL WHAT THEY FEEL, but to highlight their confusion in not appreciating the universal objective qualities in music which disallow one from liking The Dandy Warhols over The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Or the other way around. There is no opposition to the hipster. There are simply variations of the hipster, which share the same affliction: They put far too much stock in their taste. What bothers them more than finding someone with the wrong tastes is being reminded that their taste rectification is not egalitarian but a rather dismal attempt to order the world.
There is a contrarian streak that is prided within this disparate and conflicted community, true. Musical defenses are more important than almost anything. You must be able to plod into a discussion and say, “Not only is that not the worst album of the 1970s, it is in fact the most important musical moment of the decade!” Passion is required. To be observed as contrary for its own dubious sake is what gets you pegged a hipster. It must be part of a long battle in pursuit of—gosh, what else?—authenticity. Honesty. The search for the objective, artistic truth.
To be in this search, whether in opposition to the idea of the hipster through the rejection of Animal Collective, or in opposition to the idea of the hipster through the support of Animal Collective, you must use the word hipster. A lot. Even more than I am using it here. “Those other guys over there, at Pitchfork, boy, they don’t know the score. They don’t feel it, like we do. If they weren’t such terrible fucking hipsters they’d realize that I’m right!” There can be humor that cuts directly at how hipstery the other lot are, or “ironic” displays of elitism, pomposity, or mangled personal threats over the wrong favorite of 2012 list. Strange displays of masculinity can enter into things.
You must be invested in the idea that everything you like must be defended, or discarded. If it cannot be defended, it can be a “guilty pleasure.” You must acknowledge that you are an idiot for liking it, and sublimate your real feelings in exchange for phony stabs at objective evaluation. “Oh sure, it was a terrible film! The worst of the decade! But I just kind of enjoyed it. But I know I’m wrong.” The fear of Jim Emerson about the simpletons who use big words to describe their little superhero movies is the same fear of the fervent anti-hipster elitist populist. If folks come to realize that there is nothing to be gained from not pursuing what they enjoy, then there will be nothing to tell us if we should like Lana Del Rey or not. Get in the scene that rejects the scene that is a rejection of the scene. I don’t like what you like but I don’t care! Hey, do you want to see my reasons why Johnny Rotten was a fraud?