New Zine: Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization


Hipster: The Dead End of Western CivilizationAt the past couple of events we have tabled at, one of our more popular titles has been a re-print of the Adbusters article, “Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization.” While coming out almost five years ago, it remains one of the best critiques and explorations of the hipster phenomenon. At its most basic level, the article argues that hipsterdom has become a global phenomenon that has no meaning, signified primarily by its participants’ desire to buy empty authenticity and rebellion. Whereas other subcultures (punk, rap, hippies, etc) may have had rebellious undertones or components, hipster stands for nothing.

Reading the article, it isn’t hard to see how it describes some of what goes on in Grand Rapids. Add some newer references to Instragram and Tumblr, and you’ve got a decent description of much of what’s taking place in Grand Rapids:

Take a stroll down the street in any major North American or European city and you’ll be sure to see a speckle of fashion-conscious twentysomethings hanging about and sporting a number of predictable stylistic trademarks: skinny jeans, cotton spandex leggings, fixed-gear bikes, vintage flannel, fake eyeglasses and a keffiyeh…

Lovers of apathy and irony, hipsters are connected through a global network of blogs and shops that push forth a global vision of fashion-informed aesthetics. Loosely associated with some form of creative output, they attend art parties, take lo-fi pictures with analog cameras, ride their bikes to night clubs and sweat it up at nouveau disco-coke parties. The hipster tends to religiously blog about their daily exploits, usually while leafing through generation-defining magazines like Vice, Another Magazine and Wallpaper.

We don’t necessarily agree with everything the author writes–for example, you won’t find us bemoaning the death of western civilization–but it does make some good points and we’ll likely raise a few eyebrows when folks see it.

You can grab the PDF (imposed for printing, or the screen readable version) from us: “Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization” Lovingly bound in twine, of course. Complete with American Apparel font and a fixed gear bike on the cover! You’ll have to check elsewhere for your dose of hipster cultural appropriation though. If you look around town, it probably won’t be too hard to find some examples.

7 thoughts on “New Zine: Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization

  1. jones

    Adbusters doesn’t have the greatest reputation these days, I’ll try to find the article and send it along. History of really questionable political stances and funding from the Tides Foundation. Seems they may be a little hip themselves.

    From what happened to the Occupy movement, which tried to hide its class and racial struggles, I wouldn’t think their cultural critique would hold much merit. What value, really, is there in critiquing a fashion trend when the individuals who dress that way can or can’t become revolutionary for completely other reasons (class, conditioning, etc)? Seems more like a way of excluding people rather than trying to bring them in, like criticizing hippies or black bloc kids.

    I don’t trust Adbusters anymore, since their foundation money comes from the exploitative capitalist system. There has to be real anti-capitalism to have a balanced view of capitalism. Two cents. jones

    1. toodles

      Hey –

      Thanks for your comments. I thought this particular piece from Adbusters had really good things to say in terms of subculture and the possibilities for resistance. In particular, it talked about how previous subcultures like the 60s counter-culture, punk, and hip-hop challenged the status quo and had revolutionary undercurrents whereas hipster as a subculture is missing that element. It’s basically a subculture that exists to perpetuate capitalism by giving consumerism a hip veneer.

      I am skeptical of Adbusters’ politics as well, but I thought that this piece was pretty insightful. It’s definitely worth considering their position on other things as it relates to this, but even in light of their questionable views on other things, I thought this article still held up quite well.

      I’ll checkout the links you suggested as well, they sound interesting.

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