Keeping up with the stuff hipsters hate

Keeping up with the stuff hipsters hate
Photo by Katherine Groth

Some media publications have prematurely declared them dead.

Other outlets have rued the day they ever lived.

But Brooklyn bloggers Andrea Bartz and Brenna Ehrlich, who have meticulously tracked the vicissitudes of hipsters on Stuff Hipsters Hate for nearly two years, celebrate the subspecies’ eccentricities with an anthropologist’s intensity.

The women — who claim not to be hipsters themselves — have released a chatty new book out breaking down the different aspects of what it means to be a hipster, particularly one that happens to live in Williamsburg. Naturally, we had a few questions, so we sent our least-hip reporter, Aaron Short, to grill these two like a piece of farm-raised salmon.

Aaron Short: Why are hipsters so fascinating?

Andrea Bartz: We’re mocking both cultures, depending on how you read it. From the hipster perspective, we’re tearing apart bros, but from a meta perspective, we’re poking fun at hipsters. Our goal is to not come off as pro- or anti-hipsters. Oddly, some have thought we hate hipsters based on the book, while you seem to think we side with them. Mission accomplished.

Hipsters are fascinating because they live in a manner most people wouldn’t dare to embrace. They’re anti-consumerism, commercialism, buying a condo and having a 401K. Hence, the moniker “counter culture” — they’re counter to the culture at large. The casual observer would likely find that kind of anti-establishment ethos interesting.

There has always been one counter culture, which has caught the attention of the public, usually one that dresses strangely or acts wildly, such as punks, hippies, and beats. Hipsters are the latest iteration of that stream of cultures.

AS: Will hipster culture change going forward now that we’re in an extended economic slump?

Brenna Ehrlich: Hipster culture will change no matter what. That’s the nature of it. Hipsters are always looking for the newest patterns or trends. Luckily, there are a ton of vintage shops and whatnot at which they can indulge those desires. Yes, recycling trends of yore is the forefront of novelty.

As for the economic slump aspect, again, counter cultures tend to emerge in time of hardship, when young people feel dissatisfied with the status quo. Some people claim that hipsterdom flared up again after 9-11. An economic depression is sure to feed the fires of creativity. If you can’t get a full-time job, why not bartend and pursue those floss-and-traffic-light-glass installations?

AS: Which was the part of the book that was the most fun the write? The easiest? The hardest?

Ehrlich: I liked the essays, myself. For me, the charts were the hardest, because I don’t think in that visual a fashion.

Bartz: In turn, I liked sketching out the charts, presenting information in visual ways. I tend to think that way so it was fun taking an abstract idea we found funny and literally drawing it on paper. We did a lot of back-and-forth with drafts, adding different elements, and it was always amusing to read with ridiculous detail or new post the other had added to the menu.

AS: Where do you get some of your ideas and inspiration? Friends? Enemies? My colleague Stephen Brown, who was mercilessly eviscerated in diehipster.com?

Bartz: Everywhere! A walk down the street can yield a bookshelf worth of ideas. Our lives, our friends’ lives, our weekend nights out, our romantic interests’ lives are all fair game. We try not to pointedly attack anyone, though.

AS: Will hipsters ever move from Williamsburg and Bushwick? Where are the next neighborhoods?

Ehrlich: Of course. That’s how gentrification works. Bushwick is probably going to blow up pretty soon. Maybe Bedford-Stuyvesant next? There are plenty of less-fished areas of the ’burg and Greenpoint, too, just asking to be overrun.

AS: When did the backlash against hipsters among Brooklynites, starting with sites such as diehipster and sometimes your site, begin and where is it coming from?

Bartz: We’re not anti-hipster, number one. Number two, there’s always a backlash against the reigning culture. Hipsters have dominated Brooklyn, just ask the old Polish ladies in my hood, and people resent them for that. It started full force around this year, not just in Brooklyn, but countrywide, but I imagine as soon as trendy bars started to outnumber neighborhood joints.

Ehrlich: In general, as we’ve alluded to before, hipsters are not only the current “cool kids,” which sets ’em up for derision from the get-go, they’re also a group often defined by their sighing superiority over everything else, other neighborhoods, works of art, other people’s life choices, and you. One solution is to put down the put-down-ers.

Stuff Hipsters Hate at Greenlight Bookshop [686 Fulton St. at S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246-0200], Nov. 18, 7:30 pm.