I just had to begin with that; it's such a great line. I can sympathize with Mr. Bateman (the character in the book who made that comment) on this point, though I would find even a bad suit to be more preferable then the repulsive, tee shirt and jeans culture that we are currently immersed in. But this lack of individual discrimination and taste goes a lot deeper then what people are wearing on their bodies. And it tends to be even more horrible to witness (assuming that's possible).
Despite how I began this rant, we will not be focusing so much on the aesthetic elements of this topic (that's hipsters, in case you haven't figured that out), but instead we will be examining many of the philosophical aspects of this subject. First I'd like to point out that the definition of the word "hipster" can be rather vague and subjective (note: in this rant I am referring to the contemporary subculture known as "hipsters" as opposed to the classic, 1940s cultural grouping). Depending on who you ask, there can be a great deal of overlap between this subculture and others, such as indie, emo, etc.; and these, in turn, can have much in common with other sub/countercultural groups. On top of that, many people who would fall under this category would not want to consider themselves "hipsters" (hipsters don't like "labels", and I'll explain why in a moment). For purposes of philosophical discussion, I'm going to be using the most general definition of the word, which may include other groups with similar attitudes and philosophies, but who might display slightly different aesthetic distinctions.
In my "The Myth of Goodness" rant, I introduced an idea that I called the new goodness; and here's what I said:
I think I'll call this condition the "new goodness" (it's a lot like the old one, only with updated features and different name and packaging designed to suit the current market). Just think... "Not only does the new goodness come with mass social acceptance, but you get a laid back, I don't give a shit, tee-shirt and jeans appearance. It also comes complete with a fashionably liberal attitude, with a rougher, more cynical edge to it; while still maintaining the same, though greatly watered down, set of ethics and principles which you would criticize stuffy or radical conservatives for having! And, if you act now, you'll receive the ability not to be categorized, that's right; you'll just claim that you don't really believe in anything! This special feature allows you to criticize those who actually have passion or conviction, while remaining too vague and ambiguous about your own ideas to be criticized yourself! Order today!"
Not only was I trying to explain/give an example of, this idea of "the new goodness"; but I was also, simultaneously mocking many of the anti-capitalist perpetrators of the new goodness, by suggesting that they are "buying" into this attitude. And what kind of person do you think I had in mind when I wrote this? You guessed it!
However, despite the fact that I detest this all too common attitude of being anti-big business, anti-capitalism, anti-greed, anti-success, anti-accomplishment, anti-government or anti-anything which happens to be bigger, more materialistically successful or more powerful than your average Joe (and yes, I'm implying that jealousy and feelings of inferiority are often the true motivations for these kinds of believes) there is something else that really bothers me about the whole hipster attitude. I'm ashamed to admit it, but being a 20 something myself, I am apart of the generation that many of these hipsters belong to. In all honesty, when I wrote the above mentioned rant, I was not familiar with the contemporary definition of the word hipster. However, I had encountered enough of these types of people so that I knew that they existed and how to classify them, even though I didn't know what to call them.
What I find most discouraging about the hipster attitude is that they seem to be anti a lot of things, but pro nothing. It has been pointed out that it is safer to criticize then it is to praise. And the cowardice of these individuals really shines through when you consider just how much constant criticizing that they do. In fact, many times these individuals will only praise things that are considered almost universally "cool" (by most of the people that they're likely to encounter within their social group), or things that are so obscure that it would be very difficult to dispute. And even then, this praise is often very half-assed. One of the more common and transparent ways in which these individuals deliver half-assed praise is to say that something is "so bad, that it's good". By saying this, they lessen the risk of someone questioning their tastes. It's a way of protecting themselves from other people's judgments while still expressing a fondness for something. I personally don't think that anything is "so bad that it's good". If I like something, then for me, it's good. If no one else thinks so, then too fucking bad! From my point of view, that's a reflection of other's lack of taste; not mine.
A similar tactic used by the hipster is that of "irony". Now I can appreciate the entertaining and humorous value of irony as much as anyone (I would describe certain elements of this site as being a little tongue-in-cheek). However, it seems that the so called "ironic" elements which are often embraced by the hipster culture are so subtle as to be nonexistent. And I believe that's the point. You can't tell when or if they're being serious; or if they are even capable of it. In fact, it is been noted that taking anything seriously at all, seems to be rather taboo within this hipster culture. Are you noticing a pattern here yet? The word is: ambiguity. If you can't pin them down on anything, then it's much harder to question them, analyze them or insult them. By never taking a definitive stance on anything; they protect themselves from any perceived verbal threat. The logic here (whether they realize it or not) is that if they don't stand for anything, then there will be nothing for others to attack. And you'll notice that these types of people are everywhere.
One thing which I find to be a little ironic (or hypocritical, take your pick), is the fact that these slaves to the opinions of others are also the first people who would look down on someone that they saw as trying to be deliberately "cool". Unfortunately, this ambiguity does not stop at pop culture or aesthetics. It continues down to their very core philosophies. One excellent example of this is the fact that almost all of these individuals seem to consider themselves political liberals, more or less. Many seem to take a great deal of joy in bashing many of the conservative leaders in the public eye (or anyone else who has any significant power, for that matter). However, when asked how they believe things should be done, they either don't have much, if anything thing to say; or they begin to blurt out mindless socialist or utopian ideals which, if actually implemented, would probably mean the downfall of civilization as we know it (which, I suspect, is probably the idea; how masochistically repulsive!). These people are the true hippies of the 21st century.
This lack of decisiveness can be found in regards to the hipster's religious views as well. These views tend to be foggy at best. Sometimes they'll use the phrase "quasi-something or other", thus implying that they're not really serious. Another tactic is to rattle off a list of a few completely different religions as ones that they (kinda) subscribe to. Many times they'll be even vaguer about it than that. Now, I'm not suggesting that everyone has to pick a specific religious view or publicly advertise their religious affiliation; but I can't ignore the fact that I'm noticing a distinct pattern emerging here. Incidentally, many hipsters are fairly well educated, but good education does not compensate for a lack of natural intelligence (much rarer).The result is a whole lot of pseudo intellectualism. The information that they have been fed transcends their brain's ability to handle and utilized it; or, in other words, they're living proof that a little knowledge is terrible thing. I blame the schools...
Many have noticed that hipsters don't seem to take much pride in their appearances (as in they don't actually try to look particularly good by most standards, though it has been pointed out that they can spend a whole lot of money to look like they don't give a shit). Yet despite this, they still maintain a very elitist attitude. The motives behind this become very clear when one considers that the entire hipster attitude is based on trying to feed a malnourished ego and sense of self; while simultaneously protecting it from any possible harm due to its inherent weakness. They act superior to everyone else, in order to fluff up this ego. But of course they don't want to look like they're trying to be superior, that might let people on to their weakness and bring on accusations of being a poseur. This is also why they are so concerned with "just being themselves" and avoiding labels. If you can't put them into a category, then you can't judge them by the standards of that category. Any real measure of status or ability is an enemy of the hipster.
As a villain, I do have a "label" and I enjoy it very much. It's apart of my identity and it keeps me on track; it's a tool for focus. It helps to remind me of what I am, what I'm doing, what my goals are and, most significantly, the approach that I should use in everything that I do. It ensures that my standards are always my own and kept separate from those of others; so I never have to concern myself with what others might agree with or whether my tastes will be deemed acceptable by those I interact with. I'm a villain (an evil, selfish bastard), I don't care!
You may now be asking yourselves "so what's wrong with that?" So what if believing in anything or taking a decisive stand isn't cool anymore? What's wrong with a person trying to socially defend their own ego by refusing to take a real stance on anything and thus avoiding harsh judgments by their peers? Well, my dear reader, the problem is that this sort of approach leads to a fundamental breakdown of worldly standards. It leads to rampant, widespread worthlessness on many levels.
Just as many spiritual religions have done throughout the ages, these hipsters are trying to devalue material standards because, frankly, they suck (the hipsters I mean, not the material standards). Those least fit for this world are the ones most likely to complain about their position in it. As I've said before, all human motives are rooted in selfishness, so we must ask ourselves what these individuals have to gain by entertaining these attitudes. First, they wish to protect themselves from any verbal attack on their psychology, which would be devastating to their extremely fragile egos. They also want to bring down anyone who has achieved any reasonable amount of success, which is often how they choose who or what they will criticize (this is why they often praise small-time individuals, usually their peers, who often do inferior work and claim that it is better because it's "indie"). They tend to dislike those who have ambition and accuse them of being "sellouts" (somehow such accusations really don't seem to bother me, HAHAHA).
To my fellow villains out there in computer land, I suggest that you don't concern yourselves too much with hipsters (and their ilk) because they are, by that very designation, worthless. They have no real power and most likely never will. This is why they whine so much. Pay them no mind. Their future lies in mediocrity and it is their very lack of standards and decisive action that will ensure this. Too frightened to secure an identity for themselves or to choose a distinct path to traverse; they will find themselves leading a default life. The fate of which, will be determined by the very same powerful individuals that they constantly rail against. Their only possible consolation is to attempt to trap others in this same state of hopelessness and fear. And oh how they will try. They'll whine and complain about perceived injustices and criticize everything under the sun. More proof of their weakness and inferiority. Just ignore them and keep moving forward. And if you find yourself in a particularly playful mood, you might stop and ask one: "Hasn't it ever occurred to you that your incompetence might inspire loathing?!" He'll probably think you're being "ironic" and take it as a compliment.