"How to Live Without Irony" - misses the point - Irony begets Sincerity

As someone on the Gen X/Gen Y cusp that has spent most of their 20s living in/traveling to the hippest neighbourhoods in the world, I can say I’m well-versed in hipster culture and, more specifically, irony. 

Christy Wampole’s NY Times article broached the subject of hipsters and the culture of irony to the uber-mainstream. But isn’t that the Times for you? A dinosaur hopping onto the trend 5 years too late? Letting someone academic and several degrees removed from the trend explain it?

Wampole is neither cool enough nor enough of a hipster to comment on the topic of hipsters. She think she qualifies as a hipster, but merely adopts the pose. She lives in Princeton, not Bushwick. She’s not ironic or artistic, but shy and sincere. She claims not to like irony, yet she hides behind it. She thinks that Princeton students are hispters, yet I can’t think of a much more conservative school, especially among the ivies. (I went to Barnard—one of the more liberal of the Ivies—and the students were square as hell.)

Furthermore, most people in their early 20s—Wampole’s student demographic—that are actually cool missed the boat on irony and don’t like it nor “get” it. They find it corny. Their style and art tends to be somewhat nostalgic yet very futurist… and a bit psychedelic and dark, “future retro” like robocop, or flat out psychedelic goth. You can see a lot of this influence on their tumblrs.

Wampole really missed the point in this article. Wampole seems to think that, like herself, hipsters hide behind irony. The truth is that a lot of hipsters genuinely love the kitsch they consume, wear and surround themselves with. They have a hard time expressing their emotions, so they veil it with a layer of over-enthusiasm that reads to the outside world as irony. To other hipsters, this veil is easily decipherable tribal coding.

Case in point: a few years ago, certain friends would tell me “I love you” in a manner that would appear to be ironic to the outside observer. (The delivery was in the manner of Wayne’s World’s Terry’s “I love you, Man.”) However, I would know by their intonation that they did, indeed love me. But saying “I love you” with non-ironic intonation would be too serious, perhaps out of place. Speaking in an over-the-top and ironic manner is funny. The humor made the sentiment lighter and therefore easier to to communicate. I understood their fondness for me but I didn’t take it too seriously, which was the point. I responded in kind. Because doing it seriously would have been weird and would have made everyone uncomfortable.

A lot of hipsters wear ugly tacky clothing. On first glance, it might appear that hipsters are wearing ugly things just to be kitschy and ironic, but this is not usually the case. First of all, a lot of hipsters are broke and cannot afford to wear the modern looks they might prefer. They can’t afford that $2000 Rick Owens jacket—that’s like 4 months of rent! They could afford a $50 Old Navy peacoat, but that’s mainstream and hipsters shun the mainstream and have much better style than Old Navy. They could alternately spark the ire of their peers by purchasing something from American Apparel for $150. But American Apparel just rips off hipster style anyways, so it makes sense to find something ridiculous and fun at the thrift shop. <See Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop”>

Yes, thrifting and poverty, coupled with artistic creativity, is in fact where most of the ironic clothing comes from. The problem is that trustafarians and poseurs that move to hip neighourhoods to live among the broke bohemians then swaggerjack the original inhabitants style—with less refinement, style and finesse. The look becomes banal and ironic. But, again, the outsiders and writers and style bloggers don’t see the nuanced difference and lump them all into the same category.

This is a post my friend wrote for Stylesight. The picture is of my friend, Simon, in my loft in Montreal. Nobody wears clothes the way Simon does. Could you imagine someone else trying to imitate his style successfully? How awful and ironic would that look? Simon never bought clothes because they were ironic. He loved everything that he wore, and he always looked amazing. Don’t mind the “weird punk” title - writers like to label things so they can own them. Simon was involved with Montreal’s weird punk scene. Everyone in Montreal’s hipster neighbourhoods wore whatever they wanted that they can afford. I wore ridiculous clothing all the time, simply because I could.

I was hanging out in a friend’s apartment in Montreal’s Gay Village. It was filled with the kitschiest pictures imaginable—family type portraits from the 70s. But I asked the residents what they liked about the pictures on the wall. There was something the residents genuinely liked about each tacky photo—ironically, what they liked best was the sincerity in their faces, their clothes, their poses. Hipsters LOVE sincerity obscured in kitsch.

A lot of the companies that use ironic commercials and hipster imagery aren’t selling to hipsters. They are selling hipsters to the mainstream (much like the NY Times did in Wampole’s article, how ironic). See Miracle Whip commercials. Hipsters don’t tend to have televisions, but older Americans do.

Wampole gets condescending when listing the only people engaged in non-ironic living: children, the elderly, the mentally handicapped, and those in third world countries. Yes, there are a lot of people that can’t grasp irony for a variety of reasons. For the rest of us, it’s a great tool to use in moderation. It’s entertaining, makes our broke style more interesting, and can lend lightness to the expression of potentially uncomfortable and heavy sentiments—like sincerity and love.

"How to Live Without Irony" - misses the point - Irony begets Sincerity

As someone on the Gen X/Gen Y cusp that has spent most of their 20s living in/traveling to the hippest neighbourhoods in the world, I can say I’m well-versed in hipster culture and, more specifically, irony. 

Christy Wampole’s NY Times article broached the subject of hipsters and the culture of irony to the uber-mainstream. But isn’t that the Times for you? A dinosaur hopping onto the trend 5 years too late? Letting someone academic and several degrees removed from the trend explain it?

Wampole is neither cool enough nor enough of a hipster to comment on the topic of hipsters. She think she qualifies as a hipster, but merely adopts the pose. She lives in Princeton, not Bushwick. She’s not ironic or artistic, but shy and sincere. She claims not to like irony, yet she hides behind it. She thinks that Princeton students are hispters, yet I can’t think of a much more conservative school, especially among the ivies. (I went to Barnard—one of the more liberal of the Ivies—and the students were square as hell.)

Furthermore, most people in their early 20s—Wampole’s student demographic—that are actually cool missed the boat on irony and don’t like it nor “get” it. They find it corny. Their style and art tends to be somewhat nostalgic yet very futurist… and a bit psychedelic and dark, “future retro” like robocop, or flat out psychedelic goth. You can see a lot of this influence on their tumblrs.

Wampole really missed the point in this article. Wampole seems to think that, like herself, hipsters hide behind irony. The truth is that a lot of hipsters genuinely love the kitsch they consume, wear and surround themselves with. They have a hard time expressing their emotions, so they veil it with a layer of over-enthusiasm that reads to the outside world as irony. To other hipsters, this veil is easily decipherable tribal coding.

Case in point: a few years ago, certain friends would tell me “I love you” in a manner that would appear to be ironic to the outside observer. (The delivery was in the manner of Wayne’s World’s Terry’s “I love you, Man.”) However, I would know by their intonation that they did, indeed love me. But saying “I love you” with non-ironic intonation would be too serious, perhaps out of place. Speaking in an over-the-top and ironic manner is funny. The humor made the sentiment lighter and therefore easier to to communicate. I understood their fondness for me but I didn’t take it too seriously, which was the point. I responded in kind. Because doing it seriously would have been weird and would have made everyone uncomfortable.

A lot of hipsters wear ugly tacky clothing. On first glance, it might appear that hipsters are wearing ugly things just to be kitschy and ironic, but this is not usually the case. First of all, a lot of hipsters are broke and cannot afford to wear the modern looks they might prefer. They can’t afford that $2000 Rick Owens jacket—that’s like 4 months of rent! They could afford a $50 Old Navy peacoat, but that’s mainstream and hipsters shun the mainstream and have much better style than Old Navy. They could alternately spark the ire of their peers by purchasing something from American Apparel for $150. But American Apparel just rips off hipster style anyways, so it makes sense to find something ridiculous and fun at the thrift shop. <See Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop”>

Yes, thrifting and poverty, coupled with artistic creativity, is in fact where most of the ironic clothing comes from. The problem is that trustafarians and poseurs that move to hip neighourhoods to live among the broke bohemians then swaggerjack the original inhabitants style—with less refinement, style and finesse. The look becomes banal and ironic. But, again, the outsiders and writers and style bloggers don’t see the nuanced difference and lump them all into the same category.

This is a post my friend wrote for Stylesight. The picture is of my friend, Simon, in my loft in Montreal. Nobody wears clothes the way Simon does. Could you imagine someone else trying to imitate his style successfully? How awful and ironic would that look? Simon never bought clothes because they were ironic. He loved everything that he wore, and he always looked amazing. Don’t mind the “weird punk” title - writers like to label things so they can own them. Simon was involved with Montreal’s weird punk scene. Everyone in Montreal’s hipster neighbourhoods wore whatever they wanted that they can afford. I wore ridiculous clothing all the time, simply because I could.

I was hanging out in a friend’s apartment in Montreal’s Gay Village. It was filled with the kitschiest pictures imaginable—family type portraits from the 70s. But I asked the residents what they liked about the pictures on the wall. There was something the residents genuinely liked about each tacky photo—ironically, what they liked best was the sincerity in their faces, their clothes, their poses. Hipsters LOVE sincerity obscured in kitsch.

A lot of the companies that use ironic commercials and hipster imagery aren’t selling to hipsters. They are selling hipsters to the mainstream (much like the NY Times did in Wampole’s article, how ironic). See Miracle Whip commercials. Hipsters don’t tend to have televisions, but older Americans do.

Wampole gets condescending when listing the only people engaged in non-ironic living: children, the elderly, the mentally handicapped, and those in third world countries. Yes, there are a lot of people that can’t grasp irony for a variety of reasons. For the rest of us, it’s a great tool to use in moderation. It’s entertaining, makes our broke style more interesting, and can lend lightness to the expression of potentially uncomfortable and heavy sentiments—like sincerity and love.

Notes:

  1. tianaco posted this

About:

What's on TianaCo's radar

Following: