For the Love of God, Mustaches Can Not Be "Ironic"

Hating on hipsters is admittedly fun, if usually hippocritical.1 We started using skinny jeans and ironic mustaches as the flagship hipster emblems. This is not inaccurate, but increasingly, the look itself, as opposed to the corresponding set of personality traits, is becoming the main draw of the ire.

As you know, the term "Hipster" was popularized by Alan Ginsberg. Howl's "angel-headed hipsters" dug live jazz and slam sessions. They preferred intoxicated, late-night intellectualizing to white picket fences and going to church. My guess is they were synonymous with the beatniks until the term "beatnik" got too "heavy". Hippies took over the anti-establishment scene in the sixties, and were almost the exact same thing as beatniks except alcohol, nicotine, benzedrine and heroin were replaced by cannabis, LSD, peace, love, compost and voting.

Hippies had a good long run till maybe 1980. The counter culture sorta reset and became a weird nebula of cocaine, hardcore punk and tv sitcoms for ten years until the post-Reagan children of baby boomers found ourselves so far up on the hierarchy of fulfilled needs that the only thing we had to rebel against was our own mediocrity.

There's a large window of slightly above-average intelligence wherein a young adult just capable of comprehending the implications of a bell-shaped curve is granted magnificent vistas through which to regard his own unremarkability. The new alternative youth coulture had found affulence, the resulting playground was therapy, alternative rock, and prescious self-expression.

But aye, there's the rub... There's a reason the beatniks effortlessly gave way to hippies when the Vientam war got out of hand. Just as a government needs an "enemy" against which to rally its citizens, our counterculture needs a villain to flourish. Mediocre minds need objects on which to focus our creativity--we don't do well with a blank canvas.2 

All this being said, you may have a lot of reasons to condescend to hipters, but mustaches aren't one.

Due to the feedback loop of rebellion / nothing really to rebel against, today's hipsters have decided to combine the weird early 90's mixture of narcissism and self-loathing with a Bill O'Reily-esque "culture-war" culture (except coming from the left). And this latter part is why hipsters remain a big problem.

The example I always give when discussing the moment I first realized I was an insufferable human being is from 2007 when I was in my old nine to five cubicle. My manager said, "I can't wait to see that 'I pronounce you Chuck and Larry movie.'" I immediately thought to myself, "Wow, what a tool." And then I had the unfortunate realization that, "Oh wait... This regular joe six-pack isnt' a tool... This guy just wants to pay his bills during the week, catch a Philly's game and maybe spend a few hours on Saturday laughing at goofballs in some movie. I'm the tool." I was a tool for projecting my own disgruntled hopes for American cinema onto another guy's personality. And in the secret confines of my skull, I still do it to this very day. I try to make the necessary mental corrections fairly quickly. But my primal distate for commercialist swill lies at the heart of my mediocrity.

So the next time you see some hipster with skinny jeans and a mustache, and you commence inner monologue about the irony of his look, stop confusing the issue and just try to remember: A mustache is not a statement. Unless of course you count "I like having a mustache," as a statement. 



1 I call hipster-hating hypocritical because it's never done by people older than 50 - those people don't have a clue what a hipster is. It's never done by unself-aware frat bros in Ed Hardy shirts - those people don't even notice hipsters; it isn't done by hippies - those people don't generally hate others (which is one of the reasons hipsters hate them so much); it's not done by wealthy, bubbly airheads, the socially awkward or the brilliant. It is not really done by anyone except young entertainment-minded people who are inflamed by obviousness." Basically, it's done by other hipsters who simply aren't quite as bad as that guy.



2 For the record, this author considers himself just as mediocre as the next person, with the exception that he doesn't consider the label an insult, or at least tries not to.

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