Being a straw-gummin' native of the Midwest, I'm used to a fair amount of big-city cluelessness whenever I visit The Big Apple. (Like how supposedly worldly New Yorkers apparently believe my home state of Wisconsin hasn't seen any technological development since the mid 1920s.) But a local magazine cover from my most recent visit took the cake–"THE HIPSTER MUST DIE!" read the breathless headline from the May 31-June 6 issue of Time Out New York. Perhaps it would have seemed less ironic if I hadn't been (1) looking at a magazine most certainly written, edited, and read by the very people they were calling on to die (2) while on the way to a free Animal Collective concert (3) on a train packed with impossibly fashionable people who probably had Chloe Sevigny on speed-dial (4) in the hipster capital of the world.
I don't mean to pick on Time Out New York. It merely illustrated a growing trend among the great washed–hipster-hating hipsterism. Hipsters are always the first (and almost always only) people to complain about hipsters, typically for not being "genuine" about their tastes or judging others for not being as fucking awesome as they are. It's a great straw man, this bastard who acts like he loves Band X and not Band Y when he secretly loves Band Y and not Band X. These cretins push Wes Anderson movies on the innocent masses and force young people to like Interpol. They have ruined PBR and trucker hats for regular, honest folks, and made it impossible to appreciate cheesy T-shirts unironically. Worst of all, the hipster masses have diluted the waters of coolness for the truly enlightened, so you can't even enjoy your copy of Daydream Nation without thinking of all those poser suburbanites pretending to do the same. Damn you, hipsters!
Hipster-hating hipsterism is to the '00s what anti-political correctness was to the '90s, on a somewhat smaller scale. Anti-political correctness began as an inevitable backlash against left-wing censorship on college campuses and in elite intellectual circles, and grew into an insufferable, all-purpose complaint used to justify the existence of self-consciously dumb entertainment like The Man Show and Fox News. Similarly, hipster-hating has gone from being a standard and relatively benign mainstay of Internet message boards to an obnoxious, ubiquitous lament no longer on speaking terms with good sense. I can't say I've ever met a hipster as caricatured above. Maybe I'm just lucky–maybe there really are marauding gangs of beautiful, horrible people forever judging what is cool and uncool, and saying the opposite aloud of what they feel deep inside. Perhaps I should just look in the mirror. Or maybe I should I get a look at you. After all, if you're reading this, you're probably a hipster, too. Which means you also probably hate hipsters.
Maybe my perspective is skewed on this because I have lived most of my life in smallish towns. It's telling that "THE HIPSTER MUST DIE!" appeared on the cover of Time Out New York and not, say, my hometown newspaper, the Appleton Post-Crescent. Unlike other subculture groups like hippies or punks, hipsters don't really show up outside major cities or college towns. Where I grew up, where NASCAR and country music form the crux of culture, hipsters are less than irrelevant–they are completely off the radar. Nobody is like, "I wish these young people living in big cities would stop appropriating our stuff with a smirk, because it makes it impossible for us to enjoy it. I reckon we should hop a tractor to the city and chase them hipster fellers with pitchforks!" Trust me, they don't know and they don't care. (Perhaps there's a lesson there.) I learned early on that young people who wear Buddy Holly glasses and ironic T-shirts and love obscure bands and filmmakers are not considered the elite in most places this country; in fact, such an idea is considered laughable. It's the guys in the big SUVs and six-wheel pickups covered in yellow "Support Our Troops" ribbons that are considered cool. So pardon me if I can't believe skinny pants-wearing and Pitchfork-reading hipsters are an oppressive force worth bitching about. If you don't like hipsters, move 20 miles outside the city. The world is crawling with non-hipsters. Believe it or not, but it's much easier to find people who don't have an opinion on the new Battles record than those that do.
Here's a modest proposal–how about we give the whole hating hipsters thing a rest? If somebody talks about a band or movie you have never heard of, maybe they aren't trying to lord it over you, they just want to spread the word. Don't be threatened by it. Likewise, if a person doesn't like something you like, it might not be because that something is more popular than it used to be, that person just might not like it. And that's OK, too. Can't we all just get along, my hipster brothers and sisters?