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The camera is mightier than the rock - click opera Page 2
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Sun, Aug. 3rd, 2008 06:52 am
The camera is mightier than the rock

hello Momus, I was reading an article about hipsters in Adbusters, thought it interesting enough, some good points. Was wondering, if you've read it, what you may think. b, richmond, va

Hello, B. Yes, I read Douglas Haddow's piece in Adbusters. Joe and Emma were talking about it as they surfed through their blogrolls and newsfeeds. We discussed it on our way out to an art opening. Emma said Adbusters was in danger of insulting its own readers, and Joe wondered why they didn't pick one of the million-and-one things much worse wrong with the world

I have to say Haddow comes across as a satirical character, someone like Dan Ashcroft in Nathan Barley. In the first episode we find Dan writing "Rise of the Idiots", an article which insults the readers of SugarApe, and yet is destined to make them laud and worship him for his cynical vitriol even more than they already do. Dan lacks the talent to cross over from his style mag world to something more adult and substantive. "He knows the idiots are idiots, but unlike them, he suspects he's one too," as Chris Morris and Charlie Booker put it. Like Dan, their series ended up appealing only to the people who recognised themselves in its satirical targets. It preached hellfire, in other words, only to the converted.



Haddow comes over all purple, all 6th form apocalyptic: "The half-built condos tower above us like foreboding monoliths of our yuppie futures. I take a look at one of the girls wearing a bright pink keffiyah and carrying a Polaroid camera and think, “If only we carried rocks instead of cameras, we’d look like revolutionaries.” But instead we ignore the weapons that lie at our feet – oblivious to our own impending demise.



"We are a lost generation, desperately clinging to anything that feels real, but too afraid to become it ourselves. We are a defeated generation, resigned to the hypocrisy of those before us, who once sang songs of rebellion and now sell them back to us. We are the last generation, a culmination of all previous things, destroyed by the vapidity that surrounds us. The hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture so detached and disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new."

Haddow seriously seems to be suggesting that carrying rocks rather than cameras would make these kids better and more advanced, rather than worse and more neanderthal. Smashing things is apparently what we're put on the planet to do. "Each successive decade of the post-war era has seen it smash social standards, riot and fight to revolutionize every aspect of music, art, government and civil society." Oh really? Is that why we're still mostly wearing jeans and listening to rock music, just like people fifty years ago? Maybe this "smashing" has always been mostly gestural. Maybe it's a blood-red herring, and maybe glorifying it is a kind of pointless machismo.

Hip subcultures have come into existence, it seems to me, mostly for the purpose of creating art, and of getting the more creative kids in any generation laid (the geeky ones tend to be the ones who need to rely on culture rather than mere nature when it comes to luring attractive partners into bed). Unfortunately, Haddow fails to get down to the serious business of art criticsm -- to tell us whether Dash Snow is better than Terence Koh, and whether Ryan McGinley is more interesting than Ryan McGinness, and why. You cannot dismiss a whole culture based on one sketchy description of a DJ mix. But the Catch-22 is that as soon as you start talking about how skulls are dull, or how Koh is better than Snow, you're basically carrying on the conversation the subculture carries on with itself on a daily basis. Jeremiads are therefore a safer option for the naysayer than prac crit.

Then we come to the apparently-damning argument that the hip subculture can be marketed to. "Hipsterdom is the first “counterculture” to be born under the advertising industry’s microscope, leaving it open to constant manipulation but also forcing its participants to continually shift their interests and affiliations," Haddow writes. "Less a subculture, the hipster is a consumer group."

In an age where anyone can be marketed to, this isn't particularly damning. I'm sure that somewhere, as we speak, a Shining Path Maoist is being sold a Shining Path Maoist t-shirt via AdSense, thanks to a link between Shining Path Maoist keywords and Shining Path Maoist products being marketed in his area. This does not, however, invalidate the politics or philosophy of Shining Path Maoism. It just gives him the chance to proclaim what he believes in via a t-shirt, should he so desire. Let's just take it for granted that anything can and will be sold to anyone, even -- hello, Adbusters! -- the idea of things not being sold.



I agree with my former boss at Vice, Gavin McInnes, when he says that disdain of hip subculture tends to come from "chubby bloggers who aren't getting laid", people who are "just so mad at these young kids for going out and getting wasted and having fun and being fashionable".

There's derision in Haddow's article for American Apparel, but no mention of the company's non-sweatshop activities, or the fact that its advertising keeps low circulation lesbian magazines in print.

Haddow also fails to look at -- or even mention -- the centrality of skate culture to hip subculture. Skate culture is a way to hack the city, a way to turn all its hard, inhuman surfaces into an opportunity to demonstrate extraordinary human skills. Skating and street painting turns greyness into colour, and alienation into belonging, and boredom into skill. It's central to big chunks of hip subculture, and it's a political blow against one of the central evils of our time, the motor car, which would make a much more worthy target for a radical magazine.

Not only does Haddow fail to see that hip subculture is a big machine for creating sex and art, he fails to see that being hip can be a sort of code of honour, something sadly lacking in the cultural mainstream. The spiritual sloth Haddow accuses the hip subculture of is actually much more prevalent in the general population, which schlepps about in jeans and listens to shapeless, floppy music and sleepwalks through shapeless, floppy jobs. People in the hip subculture are more likely -- like chivalric aristocrats -- to pay attention to what they're wearing, to experiment, to innovate. As for the value of what they come up with, that brings us back to the hands-on prac crit the Adbusters article avoids, desperate to stay arm's-length.

Sure, the hip subculture, seen from a certain distance (like next door when you're trying to sleep and they're partying), can be frustratingly superficial, conformist, holier than thou. But think of it as something people do in their 20s, and think of 20something hipsters spreading out, in their 30s and 40s, in more and more individual directions, becoming artists, visionaries, eccentrics... or just settling down to bring up kids in a neighbourhood with an organic grocery and soya milk ice cream.

In the end, the camera is mightier than the rock.

88CommentReplyShare


(Anonymous)
Sun, Aug. 3rd, 2008 09:13 pm (UTC)

yup all we need is a few more organic groceries and we'll be totally SET.

I'm sorry but art just isn't that important. We're gonna need this generation (mine) to pay attention to more than what it's wearing.

LS


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trickseybird
trickseybird
Bruce Springsteen, you're not the boss of me
Sun, Aug. 3rd, 2008 10:09 pm (UTC)

I read that as generation (MIME). I'd be all over that shit.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Aug. 3rd, 2008 09:40 pm (UTC)

"We are a lost generation, desperately clinging to anything that feels real, but too afraid to become it ourselves. We are a defeated generation, resigned to the hypocrisy of those before us, who once sang songs of rebellion and now sell them back to us. We are the last generation, a culmination of all previous things, destroyed by the vapidity that surrounds us."
Thanks, Adbusters, for your insightful and timely analysis of 20-something youth culture, and in particular, it's relation to The Real. Surely, your continued commitment to Caulfielding out the inauthenticity in 21st century late capitalism is a beacon of hope for progress to a new era - the flash of your glossy cover across the supermarket is, to me, as a lighthouse to a ship (obviously doomed and adrift in purchasable identity-components, ready to be frivolously applied to my vintage puffy ski coat like flair to a cheaply made cotton vest). Your well-designed, Helvetica-emblazoned pages peeking up at me from the toilet tank lid at that basement show last night, I saw the force of your truth, your scalpel-like insights, cutting through the lifestyle-magazine-like garb that you wear and awakening my sleeping subjectivity. I knew that THIS party, THIS night - this dancing, this dirty bathroom, these art-encrusted walls, the non-fixie bicycles chained together in the yard, the joy that I felt as surrounded by friends and strangers, the particular pulse of this beat (metering out our second-by-second revolt from hipsterism and mass culture) - THIS anti-commercial, rhizomatic counterculture that you've been so instrumental to (so deftly have we learned to dodge hipster signifiers, like a vegan dodges all-beef franks!) - is most certainly, legs spread, astride a Rocket on a direct trajectory to the Real. To true experience and subjectivity, to a place where one's lifestyle, the building blocks of ones life, the way one chooses to live, are determined by purely enlightened personal choice, freed from the governing structures of the advertisement and the almighty dollar. You are the lemon juice that cuts through the swampy aftertaste of generational hypocrisy, the buzzing neon sign outside the window of our poorly furnished apartment, reminding us that That Culture is Hella Fake, and Adbusters is Hella Real. Thanks!


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mrobot
mrobot
Ben
Tue, Aug. 5th, 2008 03:07 am (UTC)

thank you for this


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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand

(Anonymous)
Sun, Aug. 3rd, 2008 09:56 pm (UTC)

Fadbuster, get over the Nathan Barley fixation why dontya. Ya big Hipster.


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kineticfactory
kineticfactory
this is not your sawtooth wave
Sun, Aug. 3rd, 2008 09:56 pm (UTC)

It depends how one defines what a "hipster" is. If it's someone who's into art, then criticisms of hipsters have a boorish, reactionary quality, not a world away from gay-bashing and religious fundamentalism.

Though at its extreme, the word "hipster", especially when used by people whom others term as "hipsters", refer to a degenerate case of this phenomenon; an inbred mutation of sorts. The vacuous, fashionable, coked-up young people, who affect a pose of being "over" everything, a sort of terminally jaded fuck-you solipsism/nihilism. They're not doing it out of any artistic fire in the belly, as such passion would be totally unhip. And once you get beneath the surface, the trendy haircuts and artistic affectations and whatever bandwagon they're jumping on, only to vacate as soon as the mainstream gets on and it loses its value as a signifier of hipness, there's nothing there; it's totally superficial.


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robotmummies
robotmummies
ad reinhardt
Sun, Aug. 3rd, 2008 10:00 pm (UTC)

after the end, the prt scrn key is mightier than the camera


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Aug. 4th, 2008 12:02 am (UTC)

The Anticoncept

Cinematochronic Argument For A Physical Phase of the Arts

Preface

Let X be the original. All art poses the elementary equation: movement of X. Progenitor of the cinematograph: movement of photography.

Emile Reynaud writes movement on the screen with photographs successively taken and projected at a given rhythm.

The Lumiere brothers simplify this process by photographing movement directly.

An art evolves by multiplying its origin by elements that are specific to it.

The evolution of the cinematograph is marked by optical variation and variation of movement and their combinations: close-ups and other shots.

In 1896, Promio gives a second dimension to movement by introducing the first travelling shots.

Thus furnished with its specific means, the cinematograph begins to express a new reality by an original stylization. It produces several masterpieces.

Then, without laying the problem to rest with the reproduction of speech, [the cinematograph] perfects its technology on the criterion of precision, to the point that it ceases to interpret in order to reproduce reality, whether real or novelistic.

The cinematograph had arrived at that stage, when in 1951 Isou destroys photography in favor of sound; and in surprise one saw a most banal fish in the sea take on an unaccustomed relief by means of a love story that unreels on the sound track.

The same year, Gil J Wolman realizes his first cinechronic film, which he calls by abbreviation and to mark the difference with the cinematograph: ATOCHRONE.

Wolman divides the second by 24; he thus renders an image autonomous, which, outside of all symbolism, becomes the element of the propagation of movement on the exterior of photography. Asynchronous, at the unreeling of the atonic narration, this new antithetical movement, counters each vocal inflection.

AND A NEW ART BEGINS.

I love you I no longer love you he loves another woman.

Beneath the mask she must be pretty she must be ugly.

THEOREM.

There is no negation that does not affirm itself elsewhere.

Negation is the transitional term to a new period.

Negation of the intrinsic, immutable, a priori concept, projects this concept outside of matter, reveals it a posteriori to an extrinsic reaction, becomes mutable by as many reactions.

THE TIME OF POETS IS FINISHED.

TODAY I'M SLEEPING.

From some website or other


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kubia
kubia
kubia
Mon, Aug. 4th, 2008 08:53 am (UTC)

The adbusters piece is terrible writing, even for a magazine whose editorial content relies more on the power of teenage angst than on that of any political arguments. In fact, it fits straight into that straitjacket when constantly mistaking the discontents of contemporary culture for political articulations. Sad.


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jaimi
jaimi
Thu, Aug. 7th, 2008 04:22 am (UTC)

I think they rely on dreadful typography more than anything. I haven't picked up that magazine in awhile, but last few issues I read, shit was barely legible. Maybe they're thinking if it looks nice, no one will notice how lame the magazine is.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Aug. 4th, 2008 09:44 am (UTC)

Some pretty harsh criticism here...maybe it's bec


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Aug. 4th, 2008 10:35 am (UTC)
Stephen Duffy

Momus, I have noticed over the years how quite a few people have compared you with Stephen Duffy. I wondered if this is soemthing you are aware of/would like to comment on.

Particularly your image, less so the music, though you were both on Creation and have both written idiosyncratic songs for beautiful Japanese women singers. Stephen D. for Sandii of Sandii & the Sunsetz.

When you were both younger, you did look quite similar, with the same pout and hairdos. You were both born in the same year, and you cite the same childhood pop and literary influences. Even your mother, judging from the picture you recently uploaded, doesn't look so disimilar to Stephen's mother (there's a picture on Duffypedia).

Musically, you both are really good at writing a catchy tune in combination with intelligent lyrics. My own POV is that the difference is that Stephen Duffy's work is more overtly romantic and nostalgic wheras you seem to be obseesed with what's happening now, or is about to happen, and the future.

I did read once that you met him with Brix Smith in Camden, or is that a myth?

Anyway, I am genuinely interested to hear your views on this pop nexus!


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Aug. 4th, 2008 10:15 am (UTC)

ause (yes, me again, must make mental note to learn to type) most contributors (including myself) are loosely associated with hipsterism.

The article itself is silly but interesting too - anything that gets this many negative comments certainly can't be dismissed that easily.

I had to smile when I recognised hipster burnout masquerading as insight. You know, the feeling you get in your late twenties when you realise you just can't cut it anymore. That coupled with the assumption that counterculture can lead to genuine social change (isn't it the other way round?).

The only way for me to get to grips with what I feel about this article is to compare it with what was cool in my days. I'm in my early thirties and therefore a child of the rave (oddly absent from the list of alt. cultures in the article) from its first rumblings in the mid-80s to it's death by synthcore at the turn of the millenium. So what are the differences?

1. A common ideal. I know it sounds incredibly trite nowadays but we were striving for something new. It seems that all sense of this has been lost (hopefully temporarily) in many sections of society - not just the youth. Whether it's god, politics or a sense of community, nothing really binds anyone together. I've got to hand it to today's hipsters though, as they are creating a network that brings people together, however shallow the cement may be.

2. A short term relief from the corporate giants. OK, so all counter-culture gets swallowed up in the end but there's always a gap of a few years when people are out there doing it for themselves. I remember a time in the very early nineties, when all the best selling records weren't anywhere in the charts or on TV. It seems to me that there is no true undergound left, and the small loopholes created by the internet are just teeny mlicrocosms of a few people and their extended mates.

3. No cameras everywhere. I can't stand going out anymore because of the hadge of people filming the event. At parties, the cameraphone is a great way to hide boredom. Why are people afraid to experience things firsthand ?

If we assume that social change brings about new forms of counter-culture, then I wonder if it isn't preciesly lack of impetus for change on the part of many people, not only hipsters, that has led to this stagnant situation (and no I don't mean throwing rocks at shop windows). Then again, I'm rambling...thanks for posting that Dan Deacon video Kamakouji - his live sets express everything I've been trying to say here much more eloquently than I ever could (and everyone at the gigs is too busy dancing to remember that they have cameras)



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(Anonymous)
Mon, Aug. 4th, 2008 11:59 am (UTC)

why am i not surprised about momus reaction about that article?

having read this blog for a few months, im sad to say it becomes more boring and predictable for each day. there are some commenters, however, that really make it all a bit more interesting.

and personally, i think the adbusters article was well-needed. the aggressive response it got most of all proved that. a culture with a lot of irony, but no self-irony and self-distance, might need a wake up call.

and really, self obsession is so f-king boring.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Aug. 4th, 2008 10:38 am (UTC)
Stephen Duffy

Momus, I have noticed over the years how quite a few people have compared you with Stephen Duffy. I wondered if this is soemthing you are aware of/would like to comment on.

I think in particular what's picked up on is the similrity of your images, less so the music, though you were both on Creation and have both written idiosyncratic songs for beautiful Japanese women singers. Stephen D. for Sandii of Sandii & the Sunsetz.

When you were both younger, you did look quite similar, with the same pout and hairdos. You were both born in the same year, and you cite the same childhood pop and literary influences. Even your mother, judging from the picture you recently uploaded, doesn't look so disimilar to Stephen's mother (there's a picture on Duffypedia).

Musically, you both are really good at writing a catchy tune in combination with intelligent lyrics. I tend to think the major difference is that Stephen Duffy's work is more overtly romantic and nostalgic wheras you seem to be obseesed with what's happening now, or is about to happen, and the future.

I did read once that you met him with Brix Smith in Camden, or is that a myth?

Anyway, I am genuinely interested to hear your views on this pop nexus!

Nan.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Aug. 5th, 2008 07:20 am (UTC)
Re: Stephen Duffy

There do seem to be some similarities, Nan, yes. He's always been a bit more successful than me -- I was nearly in Josef K, he was actually in Duran Duran, my Folktronic record sold in small numbers, his Lilac Time project was rather a big seller, he womanises on a different scale, and Robbie Williams never called me for songwriting help!

I did once meet him and Brix Smith in a dressing room somewhere, they talked about leylines at Malvern and I pretty much kept silent, smiling shyly.


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telephoneface
telephoneface
Mon, Aug. 4th, 2008 05:49 pm (UTC)
the one person we can blame for all this


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thomascott
thomascott
Thomas Scott
Mon, Aug. 4th, 2008 07:54 pm (UTC)
It's important to be trendy.

Stone/camera analogies aside there is actually a lot I agree with in Haddow's piece.
As regards hipsters 'maturing' into "adults who settle down to bring up kids in a neighbourhood with an organic grocery and soya milk ice cream", you have almost perfectly described the new-Tory voters categorised in yesterday's Observer.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/aug/03/britishidentity.davidcameron
Sorry Momus, but we both know that for every hipster artist or intellectual comes a dozen conformist, vapid, glad-ragged ninnies. The sort of scientifically-ignorant twits for whom the purchasing of organic groceries is worth more than an original idea, an artistic passion or a creative impulse...


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Aug. 4th, 2008 08:53 pm (UTC)
Re: It's important to be trendy.

but we both know that for every hipster artist or intellectual comes a dozen conformist, vapid, glad-ragged ninnies. The sort of scientifically-ignorant twits for whom the purchasing of organic groceries is worth more than an original idea, an artistic passion or a creative impulse...

Sure, but what if the possibility of the former depended on the existence of the latter? It would be wrong to kick the scene if it meant kicking away the ladder, surely?


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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand

stellapink
stellapink
stellapink
Wed, Aug. 6th, 2008 02:24 pm (UTC)
i didnt read the adbuster article, but I read your´s here

so, I cannot tell anything about your comment on the adbuster text, but on your view on hippsters in general.
I do agree with a lot of things, especially with the fact that anyway everything can be marketed. As a matter of fact we are all part of capitalism, which does not mean that we embrace it´s aspects or do not try to find other ways. Also, that hippsters try to have fun and be creative, that is true as well as they are highly normative and a bit like youth cultures in general: If you do not fit into the hippster conventions you are not cool enough. therefore, also the "cool jobs" play a role, you are cool if you are an artist or designer or whatever creative and creative industries, but how substantial interests in those things are, and how far an understanding for and intrest in people in general goes, outside of what job they do (which is anyway the most boring things about a lot of people, wheter they have creative jobs and do art or not; I mean, I do know a lot or artists whom I do not consider as people I wanna be friendes with simply because they are boring. nevetheless, they are hip and exhibit in hip galleries. but the visions most a lot of people in the art world have are by defintions not more interesting than people outside of it). I get a lot of inspirations from outside this world aswell.

this leads me also to questions the following part of your text:
"The spiritual sloth Haddow accuses the hip subculture of is actually much more prevalent in the general population, which schlepps about in jeans and listens to shapeless, floppy music and sleepwalks through shapeless, floppy jobs. People in the hip subculture are more likely -- like chivalric aristocrats -- to pay attention to what they're wearing, to experiment, to innovate."

first: there is not so much innovation as one might think. a lot of what becomes hip is actually there because it was rising up to certain people who then introduced it in a hipster milieu, which adapts it in a way that it becomes conventional to them (I mean, what I tell is iealtypical, of course there is innovation there aswell, but I think a lot of things are not so much).

second: I guess a lot of people in this world would prefer to not hanging around in floppy jobs. but how can they? what is a shapeless job? and is creating advertisment for a big company or designing sets for talkshows not shapeless and floppy?

third: I am not so sure what exactly "the hippster field" comprises of, who exactly does belong to it or not, what cultural expression do belong to it, where are the boundaries, of course, there cannot be any strikt once, still we all have an image in our head. so, not exactly knowing who you have in mind, I consider the hippsters as being either very rich kids or from the middle class, and therefor, of course, like everyone (just read bourdieu) shaped by the classfraction or fractions they are evolving in; to start from this point with a proper analysis would make sense to me.

hip
étoile rose aka stella pink


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Aug. 6th, 2008 08:21 pm (UTC)
Bikes.

I wondered how long it would take for someone to respond intelligently to Haddow's fixed-gear bike disdain. Post #2. I concur, and would like to add that bikers are hacking the streets in much the same way skaters did (and do).


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Aug. 8th, 2008 10:33 pm (UTC)
kill me


I'm elated that this adbusters article is creating a conversation...it actually gives me a great deal of optimism.

Everyone seems to feel strongly about it, and that's important to note because it shows an awareness to the culture that is more or less, "relevant"

I personally think the word "demise" is a little strong. There's still time to detach ourselves from our needs and wants and push for something that is outside of our own individualities. You can still look fashionable, especially if 30 to 100 people began drunkenly marching down SF alleyways, or Los Angeles Boulevards all dressed in uniform regalia...whether it be from American Aparel or from some thrift store on Vermont & Sunset.

(this isn't a call for revolution, it's just a call for anger and rage, and chaos. Because we have been lied to, and they are selling OURSELVES back to OURSELVES)

i.e endless remakes of super hero bullshit that hides American ideologies, all pre packaged in Robert Downey Junior catchphrases....

(just an example)

This "situation" isn't specific to just hipster culture, it's western culture in itself. The endless Ipod billboards that depict a single sillhouette dancing to HIS own playlist.

Ipod

My Space

My lifestyle

My Friends

My Fashion

My music

I

I

I

I

I

I

I

This is, to me atleast, a self involvement that is facilitated by the fact that we live in a capitalist state. (it permits the masses to rant about how they shouldn't care about other people's best interests, because in the end no one is watching out for them....what can you for me?)

This isn't as common in countries that have socialist values.

Why don't we stop pouting for the camera, and start carrying a knife around...you can stab a police officer and pout at the same time, no?







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