Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mommy's All Right, Daddy's All Right: Or, Why "Hipster Racism" Was Invented By Your Drunk Grandpa

You know what I love? Comments. I love them! Thanks to comments, and thanks specifically to a comment by favorite person Snobographer (SNOBOGRAPHERRRRRR), I finally think I may have pinned down what bothers me about "ironic" racism and sexism and what have you. Here is what bothers me about "ironic" racism and sexism and what have you: it's just. So. Fucking. Bougie.

Yes, that's right! My crankiness about the young people has turned out to be, in fact, merely another example of my crankiness about the moral codes of the white middle class! Which makes sense, given that the hipster thing is, in and of itself, a pretty white, middle-class phenomenon. This was the entire point of Stuff White People Like, right? This is not a new point that I am making! But, to explain how it ties into hip racism and sexism, I invite you to go on a journey with me. A journey many of you may have taken before. A journey to your white, middle-class parents' house for Thanksgiving.

(Don't have white, middle-class parents? No worries! This is a journey of education.)

Okay, so the first thing that happens at your white, middle-class parents' house is that some gay dudes have moved in next door. Everyone is making a big show of how tolerant they are! But then, somebody - let's say your mom - leans over to you, and lowers her voice, and says something really, really fucktacular about The Gays. And you gasp, and you go, "Mother! That's not OK!" And she looks at you, all wounded and indignant, and says, "honey, I am not a homophobe."

Welcome to the bougie dynamic. Prejudices are thought of as nasty and tasteless and unrefined and bad, and of course all of us white middle-class people aspire to taste and refinement, and also to having a whole lot of smooth jazz CDs, and so we imagine that racism and sexism and homophobia and the like are only engaged in by dirty poor people, also known as White Trash. (See, also: white people being dismayed by black male sexism and homophobia.) This is another thing pointed out by lots of people, like Barbara Ehrenreich and such! At a certain point, the privilege and prejudice of the middle class got projected onto the working class, because it was an undesirable characteristic and we love attributing those to poor people. So, no, we middle-class folk are not prejudiced! We just, um, say prejudiced things a lot?

Now, join us, as we go on another journey: a journey out for drinks with some white, middle-class hipsters! They are also cultured; you can tell, because they don't have any smooth jazz CDs. They are also totally not like their parents, and they want you to realize and appreciate this very important fact. And yet, at some point, during the drinks, somebody says something really fucktacular about The Gays. It is puzzling to you, because he is not actually lowering his voice, as his parents and yours would do; he is raising his voice and smiling and is clearly very proud of this thing he has said. He seems to feel it is quite iconoclastic and bold, this thing about The Gays he is saying! And yet, if you call him out on it, he will look at you all wounded and indignant and say, "look, I am not a homophobe."

Forget it, Jake; it's Bougie-Town. VICE-esque racism and sexism, and the hipster "rebellion" from middle-class mores, consists only of raising one's voice rather than lowering it when behaving like a jackass. Because it's cool, right? We're all cool? Cool because we think of prejudice as problematic, not on moral grounds, but on grounds of taste - and have innoculated ourselves against charges of prejudice by making sure our tastes are appropriately classy. Cool because we think saying aloud what our parents would whisper qualifies as "rebellious," rather than "the same old shit cranked up to 11."

Oh, and also, if you really lay into your friend, he'll misuse the word "ironic" and tell you that you can't take a joke. Which is not so much a cool young person thing as a thing your grandpa does after he's had a couple and has started calling you a Commie, but whatever.

So, for the record, here is some irredeemably crass titillation, beloved only by those with a deplorable lack of education, refinement or taste:

Here is something that it is totally cool to jerk off to:

Here is a woman who only plays hollow, personality-free fantasy sex objects, and whom we must all deplore for that reason:

Here is a woman who only plays hollow, personality-free fantasy sex objects, and is your imaginary girlfriend:

Here is an ad that grosses you out with its overly obvious, porn-inflected sexuality and its choice to cast a living model as an inanimate object:

Here is an ad that is full of sexy fun times:

I trust you begin to see the problem. Bad news, though: to remedy this, we would actually have to adopt a system of aesthetics that values content over cultural positioning, and a system of rebellion that values resistance to power over nihilistic, self-indulgent acceptance of it. And that is just so out of style.


  1. Right the FUCK on. Yes, yes, and yes. And yes. It's amazing how often AA uses racism as well in their ads - I'm sending you a picture in a minute. But this post is full of win and awesome and I salute you.

  2. ...to be fair, I don't at all agree that Zooey Deschanel only plays personality-free sex objects. I think that's completely unfair to her and some of the amazing movies she's put out.

    I think that it's fair to say "Oh, well AA is just as disgustingly racist and sexist as Burger King", but comparing two actresses -- both of whom are talented, beautiful women, one of whom unfortunately should be taken more seriously as an actress -- totally defeats the purpose here. Um, yes, let's demean a more popular woman so that Megan Fox can look better, or something.

    (Not to mention that probably every hipster-or-not boy on the planet thinks Megan Fox is a hottie and doesn't care one way or the other about whether she plays sex objects. [She was in Transformers. She even has 80's cred!]

    I know that's probably not what you MEANT by that (or at least I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt) but it just came off extremely mean-spirited. "Oh, well, this "indie" actress is just a vacant sex object too".

    AA is completely disgusting, and I agree that hipster white kids are often racist (often as a byproduct of their upbringing), but I disagree that "hipster"ism de facto results in this.

    I know a lot of people probably qualifying in the hipster demographic (wtf does that even mean, anyway?) that, rather than playing up their own tolerance simply to be racist under the surface, would mostly be horrified at a fucktacular comment (and lets not forget that a lot of the hipsters ARE The Gays, The Mexicans, That Black Dude or whoever's getting badmouthed behind their back today -- it's largely a myth - and a reality perpetuated by said myth - that hipsters are only white, and completely INCORRECT that they're mostly straight).

    It's not as simple as all that: you're right. I think 100% of us have -isms that we're not aware of, for instance: racism, sexism, agism, all hidden beneath a glossy, tolerant veneer. (Feminist bloggers are certainly not immune: we definitely throw stones from glass houses.)

    But I think judging an entire, externally-defined group's personal opinion on the creep who runs American Apparel doesn't hold a lot of water.

    To be honest, most privileged, middle class white guys, regardless of demographic, are "ironically" making offensive jokes these days, loudly. Jocks. Rap fans. Polo-wearing preppy dudes. What white kids like: making offensive jokes. I don't think this is a "hip" thing. (Granted, a lot of people are wearing hoodies and jeans these days! It's hard to tell the difference!)

    I can't even talk about this subject without getting really confused about what a hipster is, anyway. I don't think anyone even knows anymore.


  3. I LOVE THIS POST. I do. Completely. Thank you for articulating something that I've wanted to articulate for a while. (Also, thank you to SNOBOGRAPHERRRRRR for giving Sady the idea to write this).

    As a side note, my white middle-class parents in the example sound a lot like the white middle-class grandparents I have been LIVING WITH FOR THE PAST FIVE WEEKS AAAAAAGHLEYURTKlkbeu. Interesting! (My white, middle-class dad & stepmother actually have more in common with the Hipster Racism, honestly [except, more with the ableism than with race stuff]. Which I guess sort of drives home the point that the two are VERY SIMILAR.


  4. Holy crap! I inspired the most awesome post! I love the comparisons at the end that illustrate how hipster-approved sexism is a bougie and crass and stupid as old school run of the mill sexism. Could someone explain the Suicide Girls to me? Is that still a thing?

  5. Good god. As if ironic assholery wasn't enough: those creepy hipsters, what have they done with Zooey's nipples?!?!

    THIS, however, makes my stomach flutter: "a system of rebellion that values resistance to power over nihilistic, self-indulgent acceptance of it."

    Yes yes yes!! Love this, love you.

  6. ...is that Jesus in that last picture?

  7. In my experience, (admittedly lower-)middle class households do not work like this. My parents, my friends' parents, my grandparents, etc. did not speak about people in this way and on the rare occasion someone did, people spoke up about what was being said and pointed out the inherent -ism of what was taking place.
    You presume that middle class white folk have a single, shared brain without deviation based on upbringing, background, social and political beliefs, etc., which I find offensive. You attack a group of people for attacking a group of people because the first group has obvious privilege. You ignore the fact that those groups have obvious disadvantages because you are attempting to validate your own argument without further examining education, region, religion, gender, sex, sexuality, etc. as though these are irrelevant to the social structure of middle class life. My middle class neighborhood included people on the lower- and upper-middle class spectrum, hetero and GLBT folk, PoC and whites, single parent and two-parent households, conservatives, liberals, etc. but rather than admitting this varied social landscape, you paint us as a group of people entirely unaware of privilege (we had/have it because we are often white and making ends meet, though that is HIGHLY DECEPTIVE because even someone in a nice house can be draining savings during a job hunt or someone making $75k can be fighting back from bankruptcy). We don't have it for other reasons.
    You associate a class with a system of ideals, and that is outright false, the same as claiming that all feminists are man-hating lesbians. That is an incredibly closed minded and hateful thing to claim. So is claiming to know the inner workings of millions of households without regard to other factors. When it happens to us, we find it problematic. When we do it, we're telling it how it is.

    (to be continued)

  8. (continued)

    The same is true for hipsters. Define hipster for me, as the term actually includes an umbrella of people from different classes, races and ethnicities, sexualities, levels of education, etc. but you seem to see them as all white, upper-middle class, males. That is not true. There are women who choose to shop locally, buy clothes made by etsy sellers, work in cafes, and listen to feminist folk rock. Those people are, by the definition of many I know, a breed of hipster. I don't think they're sexualizing the disgusting AA ads. There are those men who wear thinkgeek tees with jeans, smoke pot, write their own music and haven't had sex in their lives. Also hipsters. They don't all make gay jokes. This entire argument is about one very specific subgroup of a subgroup. And even then, you can't speak about that entire group, but only about individuals.
    Finally, you imply that Zooey Deschanel, "plays hollow, personality-free fantasy sex objects," and while I make no claim EITHER WAY about Megan Fox because I haven't seen much of her work, I must ask if you've even seen much of Zooey's work. Have you watched movies like Eulogy, or the mini-series Tin Man? Or listened to the music that she has created on the side for years? She plays some of the realest female characters going right now. Even 500 Days of Summer, which I had issues with because of the wholly male perspective, has her playing a woman with wants and desires of her own who refuses to be defined by someone else. She does generally choose to do films that are heavy on atmosphere and the examination of reactions to a scenario, but that doesn't make her characters default sex objects, that's simply ridiculous. Further, regardless of your opinion of an actress or her roles, demeaning that person in order to make your point is decidedly anti-woman.
    My point, here, is that you are making generalizations about a number of groups of people without acknowledging your actions. You speak about these groups as though they are all in unison. They are not. They are groups of people comprised of a myriad of different ideas and experiences. Some of those ideas and people are positive, some are negative. I'd appreciate if you, rather than taking people on a "journey," you spoke about things both more specifically (perhaps people with certain political and social leanings within said groups are more willing to make those comments) and were more open to pointing out your own flawed bias.

    Sorry for the immensity of this comment. I had a lot I wanted to cover.

  9. Ohohoho, thank you for bringing up class issues in re: hipster racism! I would love to hear your thoughts on the hipster appropriation of classically "lower class" items, like, say, trucker hats.

  10. two totally awesome posts in a row which inspired me to leave a comment for the first time about said awesomeness. woohoo!

  11. Wow! I expected people to weigh in with defensiveness about the cool young folk, as that is pretty much par for the course. I had no idea that people would feel compelled to defend the lowly, trodden-upon petit-bourgeois as well.

    You know what? For the sake of argument, I'm going to try to leave aside all the "no such thing as structural critique, only individuals" stuff. I will only note that this is a feminist blog, and we should take that stuff for granted. This is 101 stuff. We know that when somebody uses the word "men," they are not saying that every individual man is guilty of all the things of which they speak. They mean that the behavior they're talking about is widely tolerated and encouraged in men, and that therefore many men do engage in it.

    Similarly, the definition of the bourgeois as sharing an identity based on privilege, and prizing conventional behavior, conformity, "politeness" and non-reflective participation in the power structure over radical, creative resistance has been around for a while. I identify the whole "hipster" thing, especially the uber-commodified later version of it, as a fundamentally bourgeois mode of rebellion, and I'm not the first. And I don't think I'm the only person to notice that the leading figures therein do tend to be white men - they're not the only folks in it, but due to all that nasty structural stuff they're privileged within it and tend to wind up on top. This is a point that has been around as long as... oh, let's say Riot Grrl? Seriously, all of this, and the phenomenon of "ironic [name your prejudice]" or "hipster [name your prejudice]" is not news, so I'm not going to try to defend all this as if I'm the only person who has ever noticed it. I'm just going to note that the defensiveness I see here is the normal reaction when someone points out an unexamined privilege.

    Nope, I'm going to talk about Zooey Deschanel! Because if there's one thing I've learned here, it's that people are really fucking invested in Zooey Deschanel. It reminds me of the whole uproar when Megan Fox said that women shouldn't have to use "SAT words" to prove that they can be simultaneously pretty and smart. They also shouldn't have to release adorable little collaborations with M. Ward, or - for that matter - Tom Waits cover albums. Nor should they have to do spreads for cute little indie home decoration media. (Wow, it's like a totally retrofucked and limiting definition of femininity... but COOL!) If you can't see that Zooey Deschanel has been positioned as the acceptable, "cool" fantasy girlfriend, and that this is based on lifestyle accessories and marketing and is no more inherently subversive than getting a boner over a Victoria's Secret model, I don't know what I can do for you. I will say, though, that I've never seen the girl play anything other than appropriately quirky saucer-eyed waifs, and that the positioning of this as an "alternative" to any other commodification of women as sex objects makes me want to claw my eyes out.

    Also, her cover of "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" was really boring. Hey, you like the Smiths? I love the Smiths! And I hear The Shins will change your life.

  12. I am glad that my own white upper middle-class family is nothing like this... I love my mother for her outspokenness and willing to call people on their racist/sexist/otherwise shitty and bigoted comments.

  13. Ha. I admit I do like Zooey Deschanel. She was a great Trillian, dammit! BUT YOU ARE RIGHT. Also: that dress, wtf? Here is my transparent boob-pocket?

    The part about one's mom saying offensive things and then getting defensive hit home for me, since my mom is that way about black people. It is mighty embarassing.

  14. My issue here is that you conflate bourgeois and middle class, which is incorrect:
    "Welcome to the bougie dynamic."
    "Which makes sense, given that the hipster thing is, in and of itself, a pretty white, middle-class phenomenon."
    Bourgeois is, as you are using it, a concept, a set of defining guidelines that includes an interest in material goods and the status quo, which is generally considered to include the upper-middle and upper classes. Middle class, on the other hand is an income bracket. A HUGE ONE. Compare lower-middle ($40-50k) to upper-middle ($150k-$200k) and you might have some grasp of my issue. Take into account the varied sized of families within the bracket and you might begin to cover why this is so absolutely wrong. That is barely paying the bills range to eating dinner out every day of the week and seeing plays every weekend. That is we can't afford to go to the dentist because it might take up next months’ paycheck to we can get our hair cut and styled every week. These are entirely different people with entirely different lifestyles and beliefs and lumping them together is not WS or Feminism 101, it is irresponsible, lazy writing.
    You also call “the hipster thing,” a primarily white, middle-class thing. This is also wrong. I have met very, very few middle class hipsters. The reason it is hip to thrift is because hipsters originally couldn’t afford much better, not unlike the early punk followers of the 1970s. Most of the people I’ve met that you would define as hipsters are living at or just above the poverty line. Every hipster type I’ve ever met lives/lived on the poorer side of town the multiple roommates. They choose to spend their paltry extra income on concerts and music. That may be IRRESPONSIBLE, but it is what it is. I knew girls who had to thrift all of their clothes and were in danger of being kicked out of school because they couldn’t pay their bill. Also, at least in Atlanta and Chicago, there is a fairly diverse scene with a number of different ethnic minorities in both bands themselves and in the crowd. There are numerous younger teens still living at home living an upper-middle class, American Apparel hipster lifestyle, but they are not the people I would consider real hipsters.

  15. On that note, simply because a belief has been shared before does not mean it is above criticism. You may not be the first, nor will you be the last, to make the statements that you have made today. That doesn't mean that people who disagree should sit down and shut up and not point out the flaws in the argument.
    And you know what? Girls don't have to use "SAT words" to be seen as pretty and smart. But that doesn't mean that they are somehow people to be stepped upon by others if they do use those words. (SAT word: bourgeois, that doesn't make you a big fake feminist, why does it make Zooey?) I'm not saying that people DON'T see Zooey as eye candy. I'm sure people do. Positive. But that doesn't remove her positive qualities or the fact that I find her characters to generally be similar in personality to a number of women I have been friends with over the course of my life. I'm sorry, I guess I'm simply too much of a hipster for you, so my friends aren't real people. I'm sorry some people aren't so incredibly (hipster appropriately, even) jaded that they dislike one human being based on her film roles as a clothed, intellectual female lead while applauding another for being an often undressed, vacant female lead. I don't choose to judge people entirely based on their roles as actors, but quite frankly, I like the idea that Zooey plays girls who are attractive in a weird way, educated or smart (depending), and largely okay with themselves.
    Please, don't pretend that we don't live within a capitalist society in which every single lifestyle is marketed to us. Some people may buy into a retro inspired aesthetic while others choose a contemporary style. Some people thrift not because they are poor but because it is, "cool," to do so. Many go to the Gap or some other chain store. At least the styles Zooey's type of hipster is marketing come largely from independent, often female run, retailers.
    Further, the idea that it is "limiting" for women to participate in home design is ridiculous and insulting because it implies that if a woman should choose to ever publicly participate in anything not in direct opposition to traditional female roles we are personally contributing to the downfall of feminism and women's rights. Not to mention that this is her STUDIO, a place with musical instruments on the wall, painted in non-traditionally feminine colors, and is exactly the type of room that women SHOULD be able to say they have: a room dedicated to their (somewhat non-traditional) creative outlet rather than their household duties. It isn't a nursery or a kitchen she's showing off, but rather the room she uses to make something less expected and less tactile than a baby or a cake. What is truly limiting the definition of femininity is your insistence on infantilizing an actress and musician making valid career decisions by calling her and her pursuits, “cute,” and a “saucer-eyed waif,” throughout your response. You also compare her music, something she has done since high school, well before She & Him to Scarlett Johansson’s attempt to capitalize on her fame.
    Finally, we live in reality. All women in films, unless overtly intended to be ugly and used for comedic effect will be sexualized. You seem to understand this because you don’t take issue with Megan Fox. Yet, somehow, a woman who doesn’t fit into mainstream standards of sexuality and beauty is mockable while Fox’ upcoming film is arguably feminist? Where are you finding this? Rather than proving anything, you’ve only shown that you have an extraordinary bias against Zooey for being sexual in less overt ways while portraying the type of woman many of us know. People who are a little aloof, a little laid back, and who are, regardless of the apparently APPALLING implications, like to wear little A-line dresses.

  16. But but but I'm a product of a white working-class upbringing, and my peeps were totes vocally opposed to egregiously bigoted epithets! (well, the N word anyway, though they'd have had coronaries all around if they ever found out I dated a black guy, and they were madly in lurve with words like 'beaner' and 'retard,' and sex-based double standards were too many to list) I'm in the clear right? I don't need to examine anything! YAY!!! And the tater-tot casserole was so kitsch!

    Tis true many gay guys are hipsters. Several gay male hipsters I've known personally like to bash women something fierce. So there's my anecdote as data.

    The only thing I think I've seen Zooey Deschaniel in was Elf. I don't remember her character having a lot of dimension in that one. Oh there was Almost Famous. She was on-screen for all of five minutes.

  17. Dude, this is definitely my favorite blog entry of yours so far. Why so awesome?

  18. "here is my transparent boob pocket" would be a good hipster band name.

  19. I guess it's quite obvious to me after reading this that I am in fact of the lower white class and not the middle class, because the sexism and racism where I'm from IS loud and blatant and nobody's the hipper for it.

    But to be fair, my generation of lower class white folk is probably more likely to have left whitey town too.

  20. Sady, this was amazing.

    I think you nailed it about how racism/sexism/homo/transphobia is seen as "bad taste," not a moral failing in way too much bourgeois culture. It's why you always see people apologizing "if they offended" anyone when they use a racist term--it's because they committed a faux pas, not an outrage.

    But then I've been told I shouldn't be outraged, so what do I know? Besides, how the hell can I enjoy my unearned privilege with everyone trying to get me to understand that prejudice is a moral issue, not an icky personal habit.

  21. Oh, lunamorgan! You must understand that this is just like a Peter, Bjorn, and John lyric. Sady, she doesn't care about the young folks, talkin' 'bout the young style. And she doesn't even care about the old folks, talkin' 'bout the old style too.

    Whereas you don't care about the hipster faults, talkin' 'bout your own style. All you care about is talkin', talkin' 'bout Zooey Deschanel and you.

  22. Luna. Luna, Luna, Luna, Luna, Luna.

    "Most of the people I’ve met that you would define as hipsters are living at or just above the poverty line."

    This is commonly referred to as "slumming."

    "Every hipster type I’ve ever met lives/lived on the poorer side of town the multiple roommates."

    This is commonly referred to as "gentrification."

    "Further, the idea that it is "limiting" for women to participate in home design is ridiculous and insulting"

    You know what else is insulting? The fact that it's mostly, if not solely, women who are expected to market themselves by proving they are crackerjack home decorators. Owen Wilson could be sleeping on a bed made of styrofoam and empty Cheetos bags and we, as a nation, simply would not care.

    "Please, don't pretend that we don't live within a capitalist society in which every single lifestyle is marketed to us."

    Please don't pretend you're not participating in a lifestyle which lost its connection to real communities years ago (and it was still pretty fucked-up and privileged then, too! Crazy) and is now primarily a marketing gimmick for suburban teens. Please don't pretend there's any personality in personal branding.

    "Yet, somehow, a woman who doesn’t fit into mainstream standards of sexuality and beauty is mockable while Fox’ upcoming film is arguably feminist?"

    Zooey Deschanel doesn't fit into mainstream standards of sexuality and beauty? I'm sorry, is the age of the skinny white blue-eyed femme heterosexual girl over now? Or did you start talking about Audre Lorde and I somehow missed that?

    "[ZOOEY ZOOEY ZOOEY ZOOEY ZOOEY ZOOEY] you have an extraordinary bias against Zooey for being sexual in less overt ways while portraying the type of woman many of us know. People who are a little aloof, a little laid back, and who are, regardless of the apparently APPALLING implications, like to wear little A-line dresses."

    This is commonly referred to as "getting a little too invested in a movie star." Or, in layman's terms, "being unbearable."

  23. Sady,

    Not only are you intelligent and eloquent, you use exclamation points MASTERFULLY. Thanks for the (as usual) wonderful post!

  24. This post just made my day.
    Particularly because I completely agree about Zooey Deschanel.

  25. Which is not so much a cool young person thing as a thing your grandpa does after he's had a couple and has started calling you a Commie, but whatever.

    Wait, how do you know my grandpa?

    (No, really. I really wish I could say I was kidding. *sigh*)

  26. I'm sorry. I have to delurk because this has literally been on repeat in my brain ALL DAY before I read this (AWESOME! AMAZING! LIFE-CHANGING!) post...

    "Most of the people I’ve met that you would define as hipsters are living at or just above the poverty line."

    This is commonly referred to as "slumming."

    Ever heard "Common People" Jarvis (and Pulp) talk all about it.

    - Lauren

  27. Not only is the post filled with 100% literal truth, the comments and the ripostes to the President of the Internet League For the Defense of Zooey Deschanel: solid gold.

  28. This is an interesting post. I really enjoyed reading it. Your argument is solid, particularly when you address the way that hipster marketing is eerily similar to mainstream marketing.

    I'm not sure what the background context is for your response to comments -- a friend of mine linked me to this post, and I can't claim to be a regular reader -- but while the original post seemed to broadly generalize for an educational reason, your response to comments was remarkably dismissive. Lunamorgan's comments went quite a bit off the rails, I agree, but I rather liked thinking about some of Faye's points.

    The responses made me a little nervous about responding to the post, but I'm going to give it a shot anyway. Again, I really appreciated that you called out hipster racism. I think this racism has become mainstream in the hipster community, despite the very diversity that Faye and Lunamorgan address. More common, and equally irritating to me, is the wearing of PLO scarves without realizing their significance.

    I think the creation and reproduction of this racism and sexism (and ableism, &c) isn't just because of the middle-class white upbringing. If that were true, then I could congratulate myself for not being one of those hipsters -- my extended family resembles the example you gave -- without acknowledging that sometimes I screw up, too.

    I guess I'm saying that it's accurate of some cases, but I don't know that it performs the explanatory function you're making it perform here. I do think that when it's put in combination with the mass media marketing examples you excerpt, then it begins to take the shape you describe. There's a rebellion against the middle-class upbringing, exemplified by "slumming" (I put it in quotes because the term comes from the 19th century and means something slightly different to me) and class appropriation (the obsession with PBR, for example). Why then are these exclusionary views being reintroduced into hipster culture? The answer could just be "because white men in power," but there might be something else there.

    Just as an aside, I think it's more often that there's subtle demonstrations of hipster privilege. I never hear racist anecdotes (mind you, I have the reputation of a humorless queermosexual feminist). However, in Philadelphia, there are stickers up that have the SEPTA (public transportation) logo and "WALK" or "BIKE" underneath it, which are usually put up by hipsters of various stripes. SEPTA is primarily taken by black people, working-class employees, and young students.

  29. @Jess: I hear you, definitely. And I think Faye's comments were interesting and thoughtful, even if I disagree with them. I think lunamorgan's multiple two-part comments about how she's a hipster and she's middle-class and HOW DARE I and also SHE IS JUST LIKE ZOOEY were textbook Let's Talk About Me derailing and privileged defensiveness. I came down hard because of her denial of structural privilege and also because she tried to turn the discussion into a referendum on whether I (or the other posters) personally approved of her lifestyle and taste in movie stars. And we don't do that here. As I've said elsewhere, our lives can connect to the issues, but demanding that everyone involved must discuss the issues only insofar as they relate to our personal lives is detrimental to the overall quality of the discussion, and also really, really gross. In fact, it often arises out of privilege, and the concordant view that your experiences deserve to be centralized in a discussion! Food for thought, there.

  30. Sady, I love this post and Tiger Beatdown.

  31. I just wanted to add, after your most recent post, that there's this tendency for people with privilege (like me!) to read or hear a critique on something they like, or are even invested in, and interpret it as an attack on themselves. It happens all the damn time. But what we need to realize is that one aspect of our privilege is blindness towards our privilege.

  32. One thing I've noticed about class is that normal class rules don't apply to people in their twenties in the same way as they do to everyone else. Normal young people who don't have trust accounts are all, financially speaking, some stripe of lower class until they get rolling in a career and sort themselves out as adults. In the interim, though, they hold on to the values and privileges that defined the class they grew up in (As much as anyone does, since people are individuals blah blah blah.) I don't even remotely fit the upper middle class income bracket now, but I'm still, culturally speaking, upper middle class. And I've got all the advantages of someone raised upper middle class, even if I don't cash in on them. It doesn't have anything to do with whether I can pay rent, what sort of job I have, or how much is in my bank account.

  33. Re: Blue Mako -- I, too, wondered why Jesus was rubbing suntan lotion on her stomach.

  34. @ the Anonymous comment above:

    This is what Resource Generation talks about regarding class as a place of privilege irrelevant to how much wealth you yourself may or may not own... and how class ties in to past oppressions and exploitations, notinsomuch as a basis for Guilt, but rather an understanding of how our ancestors and ancestry ties into our personal places of privilege...

    On the post: I was trying to figure out what to call SWPL racism and now I know! I had also been struggling alternately with the "how dare you mock what I like" and "oh my god this is why I don't like people who like what I like" perspectives and I Have Been Enlightened! Seriously though, AA versus Hooters and Zooey versus Megan really illustrated for me how sexism is replicated within every system (see Mimi Thi Nguyen's Punk Planet articles on punk as a white supremacist patriarchal place) and that just because the trappings have tattoos and wear plaid shirts doesn't mean that these same racist and sexist structures don't exist...

    I mean, really? The white guy is rubbing questionable white substance into the black girl? Oh he has a beard.. and she's wearing a matching organic cotton pantie set... it's okay...