I’m an ancient thirty-one-year-old gay dude. Chocolate hurts my teeth and twinks make me want to hump razor wire and I maintain a curmudgeonly stance toward the trespassing universe as a general attitude, and yet I’m not able to muster a hatred for hipsters, that is, everyone younger than me. Where bores style themselves as thoroughly verklepmt at the ironic distance of our present era, I axe you, what is more affected, what is more pretentious, what is more self-conscious and artificial, a mustache and a vinyl collection, or the following sentence:
Born in 1977, at the tail end of Generation X, I came of age in the 1990s, a decade that, bracketed neatly by two architectural crumblings — of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the Twin Towers in 2001 — now seems relatively irony-free.
The author goes on to identify grunge as an example of anti-ironism, which strongly suggests she never bothered decoding the lyrics to Nevermind. In fact, it suggests that the false nostalgia she hates in the hipsters is an altogether more subtle and accurate form of historical awareness than the acute nostalgia she feels for her own lost youth in a culture that hadn’t yet sold out.
The fall of the Berlin Wall was more world-historically meaningful than the destruction of the World Trade Centers, but in reality neither was all that significant in and of itself; both were superficial symptoms of larger histories, and the authorial decision to turn them into this sort of clever little trope, anchored to importance by what their destruction represents, is, actually, a form of irony, as is the fact that the same strophe is then transmogrified into a blunderbuss with which to take wild potshots at these kids today. Well, why not just throw in the Holocaust as well? Do you know that the hot hairstyle with cute boys these days is a direct throwback to late Weimar, cropped sides and long on top? I am sure it signifies an insufficient reverence for the greatest historical catastrophe ever to befall . . .
The idea that a tenured academic, a newspaper journalist, can instruct a lot of twenty-something party kids in how to recapture the childhood openness and emotional bigitude of a 4-year-old is pretty fucking ironic, too. It’s also pretty weird if you think about it for a minute. Collecting He-Man Action Figures and wearing handkerchiefs in your jean pockets is supposed to be a sign of arrested development, whereas pining for the preliterate mind of a child is a mark of the moral seriousness so sorely lacking in America. Who’s the fucking yolo here?
It is every person’s right and duty to hate fixed-gear bicycles, but to dress aesthetic prejudices in the drag of moral disapprobation is the act of a coward. The kids are having more fun that you, and they are less worried about getting fired from their job making smoothies at the co-op than you are at losing your TIAA-CREF accounts. No one likes getting older, but you can’t recapture your past by demanding that the present reenact that hazy image of it forever instagrammed in your spotty memory.