Friday, January 06, 2006
The Quest For The "Negro Hipster" Continues ...
Not very long ago Gawker did a “Are you a hipster?” quiz. I took the opportunity to inquire about the “negro hipster” (see comments) asking for the more informed to provide examples of such a creature. I was quickly directed to a few candidates.
But the premise of my query still remains. Initially I proposed that perhaps the negro hipster doesn’t exist. Such a term might be redundant since so much of “hipsterdom” is about co-opting "hip" black culture (and I don’t say that with an "angry black militant" agenda, I say it like my boy Norman Mailer did, because it's true. Mr. Kamoji knows what I'm saying.)
Not long after, I noticed Joey at Straight Bangin’ inquiring about the same issue.
And now Byron Crawford has also joined the investigation. Although he’s not as focused on the "negro" part.
I recently reached out to Byron since I was feeling a little out of touch with my hip hop contingency. And so I'll use his story as my launching pad...
In covering the fashion, music, and party aspects the most critical element to being a hipster is overlooked. Unlike being a black person, being a hipster is a state of mind. And so the hipster keyword missing in his breakdown is “meta.” Byron submits irony as the hipster common denominator (HCD), I submit that the irony is more of an affectation. It is the flag for meta. For intelligence.
Byron ironically notes the hipster love for non-racist racism. But hipsters aren’t actually mocking black people (or other minorities). They’re actually mocking people mocking people that mock people mocking black people. Which, I think, still means they’re mocking black people, but over drinks you could get an argument, and there’s no way you could pin them on it.
Byron accurately points out what hipsters think is ironic, or funny. But it’s not really funny. It's meta-funny. It’s ha-ha funny. It’s acknowledge this funny. It’s "smart. " It’s a blogger. It’s the ugly-duckling late-blooming swan. It's Dave Eggers. It’s passive-aggressive. (probably went a few terms to far here)
Hipsters are all about post-modern, post-ironic. They are acutely self-reflexive and self-conscious. They are a byproduct of the information generation. There is no longer any external advantage to be gained if we all have access to the same information/power. So the end result is to look internal. To go meta. This sensibility, more than anything else, may be the distinguishing characteristic for a hipster. It is the essence of the “cool” that fuels the hipster locomotive. And this coolness translates to music, fashion, and partying in many ways, as demonstrated by Byron's great hipster-bingo chart.
(As a related thought, but one too involved to explore in this post, I also see hipsters representing a break from the Christian morality of previous generations, to a more Nietzschean worldview. The hipster sensibility springs from a "will to power" value system, as opposed to a judeo-christian (generally speaking) value system. Hipsters like niche. They like "individual", which is essentially the ultimate niche. This is notwithstanding the fact that "counter-culture" always eventually morphs into "culture" thereby undermining its own agenda. So they turn away from the external crutch of religion and look to themselves. Sort of an ironic self-help generation.)
I find the racial underpinnings evidenced in the hipster sensibility fascinating because I believe they represent progress. Hipsters handle race in a whole different way. A way that would be foreign to any previous generation. Vice, a prime source for hipster gospel, believes race is a dead issue. I think hipsters think the same way. They’re both wrong of course. But to have that adamant belief circulating amongst our young whipper-snappers is indicative of a new era of race relations. In many ways, because of "the hipster" and our new racial epoch, The Assimilated Negro concept is dated (luckily for me, most of us are dated in this regard, so I still have plenty of potential readers who won't write me off for being old-school). Plus since I’m meta enough to acknowledge that deficiency everyone can still appreciate the fruit of my loins. I mean the fruit of my toils, err labor. You know what I mean.
Now what I was talking about. Oh right, me. Oh wait, no, hipsters.
Hipsters are our first graduates from the school of racial equality (SORE). They are our first look at a new generation. Of course they have gook on their heads, look a little underdeveloped, and generally make you say ewww (which, by the way, is the new "make you say hmmm"). They have issues. But the thing is none of those issues are race issues. You think Blackface Jesus is a product of "old-school Jim Crow" sensibility, or is he a product of "I could give a fuck about this race shit" sensibility. I'm guessing the latter. And if I'm wrong I guess I'll kick his ass later.
So I guess, even though I'm no hipster, I'm down with hipsters. I think it's the artist in me. Because while the fashion and music may be ephemeral, I think the sensibility, the "mind of a hipster" is here to stay. And I'm saying that, like, totally unironically. Seriously. No meta-irony here at all.
Seriously. Stop looking for meta. It's over.