Here on Brooklyn Based, we’ve resolutely tried to stay out of the hipster fingerpointing wars. We have an ongoing editorial policy to use the term as sparingly as possible, since it seems to mean everything and nothing all at once. If every person in Brooklyn who rides a bike, shops at the farmer’s market, wears glasses, or moved here from somewhere else is a hipster, then well, nearly all of us are hipsters. I mean, Old Navy sells skinny jeans for $19.
Don't get me wrong, the insane twee-ness of so many elements of Brooklyn life need making fun of. We have artisanal toothpicks and organic baking powder; handmade soda is still basically sugar and water. But could we keep a sense of humor about it all?
The tone on the hipster haterade blogs and in comments intended as anti-hipster zingers has taken a dark turn lately. Die Hipster, that weird compendium of homoerotic complaints about the physiques, beards, vocal qualities and avocations of hipster dudes, has long posted a daily “hipster beating.” An example:
Today’s hipster beating.
Today, I saw Landon and Mason; tri-pod shaped roommates leaving their $2450 a month studio in Bushpointburg and heading to their part time busboy internship jobs at the local $14.50 grass fed meatball shoppe. So I caved in their cheekbones with a couple of left hooks and stuffed every last blade of grass in McCarren Park down their fucking kazoo-voiced throats. End of story.
The dude behind Die Hipster, and his neverending outrage, can be entertaining, but the beatings posts have always bothered me. And that tone, that flippant attitude toward actual violence perpetrated against other humans, seems to be spilling over onto other sites that are usually more civil.
Last week the Greenpointers blog posted a photo of a flyer advertising a casting call for hipsters on their Facebook page, and the comments that followed bothered the blog's editor enough for her to report them as abuse. In a blog post she said:
Greenpointers’ facebook page will no longer be being used as a hate page for so called, “hipsters.” There is always room for joking and light hearted fun, but explicitly violent comments, for example in response to the “Casting Call For Hipsters” poster will be reported as abuse, which may affect your facebook account status Some of the disgusting comments included:
John: “In local news, 200 people artists, baristas, and other creative types between the ages of 19 and 34 were found dead in Midtown this morning. More on this story as it develops.”
And in a Brooklyn Paper story about a new bar in Bay Ridge, there’s this comment: "As far as gentrification—that is killing Brooklyn. You have to blame politics and the mayor for that one. Granted these rich-kid midwesterners are contributing, and seemingly making out quite well, but nothing a good dose of violence can't quell."
The threat of violence is almost an afterthought here. It’s like a knee-jerk compulsory closing that has nothing to do with the rest of the thought, which is actually more nuanced than the typical anti-hipster clap-trap about how all transplants from outside New York are entitled do-nothings with trust funds and an inflated sense of self-esteem. It's become acceptable, and even expected, to wish violence upon fellow New Yorkers whenever the word hipster enters the conversation.
It's easy to make fun of privileged white kids, but the violent tone of conversation has really crossed the line of civility. If you replace "hipster" with "cop" (and NYPD officers are another group of individuals who have chosen a certain identity and path, one that many other New Yorkers have something to say about, both good and bad), the threats of violence take on a much darker aspect. Likewise, try replacing the states that hipsters are accused of arriving in New York from, Ohio, Washington, Nebraska, with any country in the world, say France, Mexico, India or Iraq. The xenophobia really pops.
In the same way that I sometimes hope that artisanal beard oil is an elaborate, the-emperor-has-no-clothes kind of joke, I also hope that Die Hipster, and at least some of the vitriol the flows from the site, is also satire of a sort. Can we have some civility? Can we stop making threats and return to making fun?