Adbusters has a controversial essay questioning whether or not today’s youth culture is inbreeding itself into oblivion. They use the dreaded word “hipster” which tends to make people argue about the definition and miss the point. The piece does raise an interesting question though -is the current cool/hipster/youth culture just an empty mash of previous cultures? Like westernization killing off indigenous traditions; is “hipster” culture an hyper-ironic recursive game that lays waste to creative thought? The article is written in typical heavy handed Adbusters style, but the ideas presented are worth thinking over.
Ever since the Allies bombed the Axis into submission, Western civilization has had a succession of counter-culture movements that have energetically challenged the status quo. Each successive decade of the post-war era has seen it smash social standards, riot and fight to revolutionize every aspect of music, art, government and civil society.
But after punk was plasticized and hip hop lost its impetus for social change, all of the formerly dominant streams of “counter-culture” have merged together. Now, one mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behavior has come to define the generally indefinable idea of the “Hipster.”
An artificial appropriation of different styles from different eras, the hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture lost in the superficiality of its past and unable to create any new meaning. Not only is it unsustainable, it is suicidal. While previous youth movements have challenged the dysfunction and decadence of their elders, today we have the “hipster” – a youth subculture that mirrors the doomed shallowness of mainstream society.