Remember the late 1990s and early 2000s? Nu-metal, the dregs of post-grunge, the dregs of gangsta rap, the tail end of Britpop. Britney Spears. Artful Dodger. The New Radicals. Cher’s ubiquitous “Believe.” Craig fucking David. It was a dark time for everyone. The history of that era has already been written and rewritten, and the accepted narrative goes something like this: everything largely sucked, and then The Strokes released Is This It and saved rock ‘n’ roll. The New Rock Revolution™ was dead almost as soon as it started, but it left in its wake a renewed interest in guitars and rock music generally, and for that we get to pay eternal thanks to Julian Casablancas and his band of drainpipe-jeaned saviors. … Read More
From suburb-bound hipsters to Beyoncé and Girls, and the aftermath of terrible Valentine’s Days, we rounded up the best of the weekend’s cultural writings. Weigh in on the most talked-about pieces of the past few days and tell us what else you’ve been reading in the comments. … Read More
Like many other former fans, I stopped watching The Simpsons sometime in the mid-2000s. It’s not that I think it’s uniformly terrible now — it’s still better than a whole lot of other shows on TV — or I’m boycotting it on principle. Hell, I even end up tuning in a few times per season, for a “Treehouse of Horror” or if someone I like is guest starring. But unlike its newish neighbor in Fox’s Sunday-night animation block, Bob’s Burgers, The Simpsons just can’t hold my attention anymore.
Sure, part of it is just that, a quarter-century into its run, the show rarely comes up with the kind of brilliantly loopy storylines that sustained it through the ’90s. What bothers me even more, though, is that a show that once had so many smart and original things to say about American culture has long seemed behind the times, its criticism mild and stale. In perhaps the most glaring example of this unfortunate trend, The Simpsons welcomed Portlandia stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein (as well as Patton Oswalt and, briefly, The Decemberists) to Springfield for an episode about hipsters. … Read More
How do we know this? Because we didn’t want to, either, but of course we couldn’t resist. So, yes, we are aware that Goodreads’ “What Should I Read Next? A Hipster Lit Flowchart” is pure click-bait, and we are on record as being so unhappy with the endless discourse about the dubiously defined subcultural group known as “hipsters.” And yet, here we are, following the path from Infinite Jest through everything else and judging ourselves hard for having read at least half the books on the list. Share in our pain — and, you know, perhaps find something very good to read in spite of yourself — below. … Read More
If the prototypical highly educated, white, 20-something city dweller is a skinny dude in a vintage Stryper T-shirt with elaborate facial hair, then The New York Times is the used-to-be-cool middle-aged parent squinting skeptically at that clothing and mustache, trying to figure out whether this is all a joke at her expense. It has now been almost two years since Brian Williams, who was already over 50 at the time, shamed the paper of record for treating Brooklyn and its denizens with a condescending brand of anthropological wonder. But The Gray Lady just can’t leave so-called “hipsters” alone.
The latest entry in what will probably one day be compiled into the worst book ever written is “How to Live Without Irony,” a dire op-ed by Princeton French professor Christy Wampole that begins with the bold pronouncement, “If irony is the ethos of our age — and it is — then the hipster is our archetype of ironic living.” But it isn’t just the time-machine-to-2002 vibe of the piece that’s got Twitter in a spin; it’s the imprecise definition of “irony,” the tired hand-wringing about modern technology, the laughable insistence that the ’90s of the author’s youth was irony-free, the contention that “nonironic living” is now so endangered that its practitioners are limited to “very young children, elderly people, deeply religious people, people with severe mental or physical disabilities, people who have suffered, and those from economically or politically challenged places where seriousness is the governing state of mind.”
If you were to construct a Reactionary Social Criticism Bingo card, this essay would provide no shortage of paths to victory. But since that might be considered an “ironic” way to respond to the piece, let’s go a different route. After years of publishing articles that misunderstand and indict young adults, the Times deserves to have the tables turned. So now it’s time to engage in some rapid-fire deconstruction of the op-ed and its author. Below, we’ve formulated 15 ways of looking at “How to Live Without Irony.” … Read More
Admit it: as tiresome as you find the term “hipster,” you can’t help but feel at least a little bit curious to see which spots made Forbes’ inaugural list of America’s Best Hipster Neighborhoods — which, it’s worth noting, was not topped by Williamsburg.
The magazine partnered with Nextdoor.com to analyze data on more than 250 neighborhoods in major cities across the US, with things like walkability, the number of neighborhood coffee shops, the assortment of food trucks, the frequency of farmers markets, and the percentage of residents who work in creative fields all playing a factor. Click through to see their top 20 neighborhoods, and let us know in the comments what you make of their picks. … Read More
Well, here’s a project you’ll either love or hate: Cape Town, South Africa-based designer and illustrator Emma Cook’s “Design Nerds Flash Cards,” which teach kids the alphabet using such examples as “D is for DSLR” and “M is for Moleskine.” While we wouldn’t fault you for questioning whether it’s a bit precious to teach five-year-olds about fixies, you have to admit that the set is head and shoulders above most kindergarten alphabet flash cards, design-wise. However you feel about this, just don’t take it too seriously. Cook calls the cards “another silly little side project,” and in that capacity, we’re well prepared to enjoy it. See more of her work on Behance and at her website. … Read More
It figures: Just as the word “hipster” is falling out of favor (or, at the very least, becoming utterly meaningless) in US cities, it’s all over Russia. Design Taxi brings to our attention “Save the Hipsters,” a campaign launched by the website It’s My City to protect “representatives of the dominant subculture” from thuggish Chavs in Ekaterinburg. As far as we can tell from the English-language video below, the project mostly involved displaying confusing pro-hipster banners during a military parade but somehow led to a 75% drop in the city’s street fights — not to mention attracting a lot of media attention that drove traffic to It’s My City. Unfortunately, we don’t know quite enough about Russian pop culture to determine whether “Save the Hipsters” is a run-of-the-mill publicity stunt, an ironic publicity stunt, a legitimate attempt to solve what is apparently a big problem over there, or some combination of those things. Give us your best guess in the comments. … Read More