Between the recent minor internet war, as Joel Johnson tried to compare geeks and hipsters, and miss lizbt’s comments to me on the weekend, I’ve spent the last few days with a minor identity-crisis. Am I a geek, a hipster, something in between, or just me? And, of course (since it’s constantly on my mind, clearly), the characters of the Bigendian ‘verse.. which box do we put them in?
I walk amongst many tribes and subcultures, but rarely feel a member of any of them. In truth, I rarely leave the house anymore anyway.
Naturally, I turn to the Internet, my primary residence. The natural habitat of the Hipster is Tumblr. But you don’t have to be in DavidAttenborough-mode very long to realise there are many species of Hipsters.
First, we have the deliberately dress ugly kind – the dominant species, perhaps. Raybans, non-prescription glasses and lately ‘rockin’ the RealD ones. Ugh! These are the ones that repulse everyone else. (Except emos, they’re secretly happy that everyone has moved on from hating them). The Classic Hipster. No picture required.
Then we have the pure Philosophy and Art Hipster. Master of the affectation. Found largely on blogs like Hipsters Sleep Where They Want:
See also: Where the Wild Things Are. Style alles substance.
Now, while of course the Bigendian ‘verse characters would be familiar with these species of Hipster, none of the central characters (or any of them, I’m pretty sure) could be put in that box.
Damn straight, neither can I. a) I am definitely no Classic Hipster. Everything I wear or do is in earnest. And sadly b) I don’t really have the talent or arts school knowledge to even aspire to be an Arts/Philosophy Hipster. Sure, I can have a conversation with them, we’ve probably both read something in common for instance. I love Hemmingway, Kerouac and Bukowski for instance. But I’d never affect to be them.
However, we now enter interesting ground. The land of the Unhappy Hipster.
Now you could say this is stretching the usage of the word. That this website, err tumblr, is largely taking the piss.. but it still fits. Hipster can also (perhaps) be taken to mean outlier, and these photos depicting highly designed homes and spaces, from magazines such as Dwell and ArchDaily, that are far from the norm and would be taken by the McMansion building citizenry to be.. absurd? Stupid? Wankery? It’s hard to say.
Because I love them. These images are aspirational for me. And they’re home for Gibson’s characters too. I would rather live in a reclaimed barn or church or water silo than have a giant heating nightmare out in the ‘burbs. Does that make me a hipster or just bourgeois? Isn’t it ok to like nice things?!
Another thing Gibson’s characters do is never dress to be ugly. They are forever stylish – each to their own, personal style of course – but working to outwardly personify themselves, honestly and with conviction. They may be Fashionable, but with a knowledge and surety that makes them seem educated and self-aware; not mindless drones.
Which brings us back to Hipsters. By complete chance, as I was reading Zero History, my friend came over with the British comedy/satire? (I’m still not sure) Nathan Barley. If the UK in the Bigendian books is the Mirror Universe to the US, then whatever reality this show depicts is an Parallel Universe.
OK, this is the clip I wanted to show you, but they’ve disabled embedding. Bloody Hipsters. Instead, I’ll run with the same clip Theremina ran in her post on the Hipstergeddon – it’s also quite good.
I cannot recommend this show enough. Be warned, it is possibly even darker than say The League of Gentlemen, because it’s so much closer to our reality. (Other shows by the same makers – Jam and Snuff Box – equally brilliant.)
Coilhouse. Does it make me a Hipster that it’s pretty much the only magazine I buy? And it’s ridiculously hard to buy. (Not their fault of course), but unlike say, GQ or Vice or something, I can’t just wander up to the local newsagent and get it. Instead, I have to go into town and visit my friends Cass and Co at Wildilocks. (I hear Borders have it now, but a) fuck them and b) fuck them twice for adding a huge mark-up on it.) And I pass that mag around like samizdat.
When Cass and Jeremy and I were hanging out at WorldCon – not a Hipster in sight btw – I had this perfect thought, sitting there, hating on iPhones, that we were TECHNO HIPSTERS. I was going to tweet this (Exhibit B), but something about the Techno prefix didn’t feel right. But it’s true, we’re hardcore Android fans, we were drinking our caffeine enhancers, each with a very definite sense of style. We were probably talking about Mad Men, in between glancing at our screens. Being careful not to spoil each other. It’s Rule 1 of the tribe; no spoilage. Because we’re all watching everything time-shifted, via DVD or torrent. Where once you could assume continuity, ’cause everyone just sat ’round the telly, now we’re masters of our own programming.
We techno hipsters. It still doesn’t sound right. Whatever we are though, we’re Gibsonian. Sure, we’re geeks.. but we’re not Classic Geeks either. Some new hybrid species, or evolution perhaps. We make fan films for video games and play time-traveler. Always for fun and having fun. Some may mock it – YouTube is full of comments of “You’ve too much time on your hands” – but none call it ugly. And if you’re paying attention, play is the best way to learn and explore.. to find the next thing.
Classic hipsters though, they only watch and do things ironically. Though don’t consume, they absorb; like some constantly mutating Borg. Sampling from everyone, contributing nothing but what could generously be called a detached critique; perhaps a barometer of sorts.
Gibson’s characters, well if they’re not busy creating culture, they’re critiquing it at a high level.. on a forum of like-minded investigators, for a magazine, or in a book. (That’s Cayce and Hollis nicely summed up.)
Because they are painfully hip. So cool, it hurts. They’re also fictional characters. Ideals. That inspire us.
It is ok for fictional characters to inspire you. The French films of the time inspired the Teddy Boys. The list goes on.
It’s also got me wanting this CafePress Gabriel Hounds tshirt. Because it’s perfectly wrong. And on the Gibson forums they’re saying it’s just a matter of time before the Buzz Rickson’s people are buying the rights to make it real.
That’s what life is like in the Bigendian ‘verse. Where Hipsters become fodder for ads like this:
Ironically marketing themselves back to themselves, in a never-ending fun house mirror of wink, wink, nod, nod. While the rest of us ignore them or, failing that, have a chuckle. Except for those poor aspirational Hipsters; we’ve all seen them, they buy into that ad and will consume it on their way to their dream Identity.
Because I don’t watch broadcast tv, I hadn’t seen that ad ’til I started writing this, wandering around the ‘net seeking casually researching. It didn’t penetrate my online world. Not even the Ninja vs Pirates one. No one posted it to my Facebook Wall. Nothing.
Probably because I was distracted by whatever the latest meme or amusing viral video was on the Internet. Which today is:
And so it goes on and on. (I’ll probably post that to my Tumblr later.) ((Actually, if anywhere it’d be on soup.io.. but don’t tell the Hipsters about that place, k))