Which brings us to the hipsters. I'll admit, I'm not a fan of hipster-bashing. It's a tired joke, for one thing.
It's also a joke that often translates into bashing eggheads. This isn't defensiveness; I don't think I fit the stereotype. But I've known people who do. And they were defined, more than anything, by their passion for creation. It's easy to roll one's eyes at the precious forms that creativity can take — artisanal mustard; hand-knitted bike cozies; putting a bird on it — but the fact is, these were people who spent time making things, who made furniture and clothing and beer and food and paintings and music and literature.
And they appreciated the effort of creation. They were the dwindling audience for literary fiction, the people who sought out unknown musicians and directors, the people who not only knew something about painting or photography but might actually buy it. All of which makes hipster-bashing seem like giving a wedgie to the kid who'd rather take AP art classes than try out for the football team.
Or, in Swift-speak: Like being cheer captain, and making fun of that artsy guitar-playing dork on the bleachers. Somehow, Swift's come full circle. She's surrounded by cool kids, kids who make her feel like she's nothing, kids who just won't let her in. She's invisible.
It looks exactly the same. And yet it's completely different, because now she's Taylor Swift. She's the girl who's dominated celebrity gossip cycles and album charts for several years. And she's uttering the age-old stereotypical complaint of every spoiled celebrity in the business: Don't you people know who I am??!?
And certainly hipsters make for useful lab rats if you're interested in the culture of young, gentrifying, trendy, affluent, and white college graduates. But it's easy to let this hypothesizing go too far, and you get into trouble when you try to charge hipsters with representing the "ethos of our age. If hipsters aren't convincing enough, Wampole offers a second proof that we live in the "age of Deep Irony": advertisements.
Not a specific advertisement, mind you, but, she writes, "an ad that calls itself an ad, makes fun of its own format, and attempts to lure its target market to laugh at and with it. That's irony, she says, and because she's raised the specter of an unidentified advertisement, along with the unidentified hipsters, we're supposed to believe that the overwhelming ethos of our time is irony.
But you can't determine the ethos of an entire age by looking at a sub-sub-sub-sub-culture. Rather, there are far more prominent indicators like, for example, a society's cultural output. Take that into account, and a different picture emerges.
The success of filmmakers like Judd Aptatow, the increasing popularity of ultra-sincere indie artists from Arcade Fire to Vampire Weekend, and the proliferation of wholesome, though not traditional, family-centered television shows like Modern Family point to a rise in what some call the "New Sincerity. If that phrase sounds familiar, it may be because Professor Wampole brings it up toward the end of her essay as an example of an attempt to banish irony. She notes that the New Sincerity has been around since the s, and is a response to "postmodern cynicism, detachment and meta-referentiality.
But the New Sincerity failed, she tells us.
She wants us to take her word for this, even though each of her examples still wield a great deal of cultural influence and continue to model the New Sincerity even, in the case of Wallace, posthumously. Now, I'm not one of those "irony is dead" people otherwise I wouldn't be having so much fun with irony here , and I really don't like the descriptor "post-ironic," which came to popularity in the wake of September 11, He says it better: "Irony and sincerity combined like Voltron, to form a new movement of astonishing power.
No one is so cool that they are above all that. Admittedly, none of that is particularly rebellious. And please, keep your feet off the wall. This article was republished with permission from The American Conservative.
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They provoke me, I realized, because they are, despite the distance from which I observe them, an amplified version of me. Had a great afternoon a fortnight ago at my local non league club Bath City. Her research focuses primarily on 20th- and 21st-century French and Italian literature and thought. But you can't determine the ethos of an entire age by looking at a sub-sub-sub-sub-culture. And pollsters find this same trend in the up-and-coming generation from which Wampole culls her hipsters, Millennials.
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