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Hipster Hating with My First Earthquake

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Thursday, Sep 3, 2009

A San Francisco band calling itself My First Earthquake is akin to a Philadelphia band picking a name like I *Heart* Cheesesteaks—so obvious that it must be ironic. With so much willful irony floating around indie music these days, it was only a matter of time before the backlash began. Behold: Hipster Haters!


Perhaps the cleverest example of the HH phenomenon is the website Look at This Fucking Hipster.


Type in the word “hipster” on YouTube and you’ll find a slew of videos aimed at skewering this most loathesome of pop culture sub-groups. I recommend POYKPAC’s “Hipster Olympics”, where contestants are screened for “an overall level of nonchalance and a reticent air of superiority”. And the Dandy Warhols’ “Bohemian Like You” gets prescience props for hipster hating all the way back in 2000!
  
A welcome additional to the Hipster Haters canon is My First Earthquake’s “Cool in the Cool Way”. The quartet’s debut album, Downstairs, was produced by Anthony Molina of Mercury Rev and released in July 2009. It features serviceable, energetic guitar-pop sung by plucky little Rebecca Bortman, who could easily understudy for Le Tigre’s Kathleen Hanna or the Ting Ting’s Katie White if either of them does too many whipits at Coachella next year.


The video for “Cool in the Cool Way” is described as “Invasion of the Hipster Bodysnatchers”, and depicts Bortman and drummer Andre Salcido minding their own business on a San Francisco street when they are abducted by a cadre of assymetrical-haircutted, Pabst-swilling, ironic-T-shirt-wearing urban bohos with Village of the Damned eyeballs. The pair is forced to get a makeover, from hair and clothing to accessories and choice of reading material, until they triumphantly escape at the end.



The joke is, of course, that Bortman and Salcido, along with bandmates Chad Thornton and Dave Lean, were already hipsters to begin with. Any one of their publicity photos would fit right in on LATFH.  How can one even identify a hipster, whose talismans are by definition obscure, without being one himself? The whole point of hipsterism is liking, wearing, reading, listening to and consuming stuff that ostensibly no one else knows about, except other hipsters. An adage of self-help-speak is “If you spot it, you’ve got it.” But no self-respecting hipster will ever actually admit to the title, and in fact will protest vociferously that they are different, and therefore still worthy of being a hater, not a hatee. And if you really wanna get meta, I myself have been branded with the H-word! 


But as long as you haven’t tattooed a six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon across your abdomen like that guy on LATFH, then rest assured that there is always someone hipster-er than thou.

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