Look at This Fucking Hipster Now a Book; Also, What's a 'Hipster'?

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The notorious Beans, a modern mascot for irresponsibility.
  • The notorious Beans, a modern mascot for irresponsibility.
Sometimes in our line of work, we’re offered free things … except, they aren’t exactly free, because we’re expected to write something about them in return. That brings me to my point: Look at This Fucking Hipster, once simply a popular Tumblelog authored by comedian Joe Mande, is now a 208-page paperback book authored by comedian Joe Mande. That’s right. Books still exist.

Now, I could go into great detail about how the book offers much more than the website can, such as features like “Is This a Hipster?,” “Celebrity Hipsters” and “Hipsters Through the Ages” — not to mention a full-on photo shoot with Beans. But instead of all that, I think I’ll tackle this whole “modern usage of the word ‘hipster’ ” thing. At least a little. Most of us know that the term ‘hipster’ originally, in fact, referred to members of the jazz culture of the 1940s. These folks saw through cultural conventions and formalities, rejected them, and instead strove to embrace a higher, more informed awareness via jazz and acceptance of the true pleasures in life (i.e. good music, mild narcotics and frequent orgasms). They (and this might sound a bit familiar) were “overcivilized to the point of decadence.”

Now, there’s the contemporary definition of the “hipster.” Basically, to those most likely to bandy the term about, a hipster is someone who obsesses over various trends and facets of modern culture to the nth degree, and regurgitates them in the most ironic fashion possible — all the while acting like he or she doesn’t care about anything at all. The hipster, by this definition, is an appropriator of other cultures, be the cultures African-American, homosexual, intellectual, et cetera. According to Mande, “Being a hipster is all about apathy. To belong, all you need to show is how little you care.” But Mande contradicts himself a bit when he says that folks like Vincent Gallo, James Joyce, Joseph Stalin, Che Guevara and Jesus Christ are/were hipsters. I think those people all care[d], and they all showed they care[d]. Mande further defines hipsters as "unemployed city-dwelling narcissist[s] with a penchant for bad clothes, organized kickball, and daytime cocaine."

The folks Mande is mostly mocking in his book and on his site are really scenesters. Or, as a friend of mine refers to them, “hipster trash.” They aren’t necessarily the ones digging through record bins and living in gentrified neighborhoods. They’re the ones downloading torrents according to the latest Pitchfork reviews and yelling at their parents via iPhone for not sending this month's rent money in time. Look, this book isn't an incisive cultural critique, and if anything, it obscures the true definition of the modern hipster ... if there really is such a thing. But it is pretty funny.

My review of the book: If you’re a “true” hipster, it’ll make for a pretty good coffee table book. But it’s $12, so if you’re a “true” hipster, you can’t really afford it. Just stick to following the Tumblr. Or borrow my copy.

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