J. David Goodman laments that there isn’t much of a fixed-speed bicycle market in China, and posits that it’s because there’s not too much of a Hipster community to foster such. Consequently he wonders how we might foment such in China.
Two things pop into mind:
- Fixed-speeds suck. Fixed-speeds are more a scenester thing based on some romanticized vision of 80s New York bike messengers. Slaloming one’s way between cars is a cute concept if one wants to buy into a “underground culture,” (which is about as authentic as the Trust Funders’ “slumming it” sections of Williamsburg) but when the bikes are more expensive than mountain bikes (my preferred mode for actual work) and road bikes while offering less control, support, efficiency or safety than those, what the hell is the point?
- If one is buying into a “counter-culture” in China, one becomes a punk. If Hipsterdom can be defined as an apolitical reaction to the ever-changing and largely arbitrary fads of an entrenched consumer culture, then there first needs to be an entrenched consumer culture that trumps politics. And quite frankly, let’s hope it never ends up that way: The last thing we need are more yuppies-to-be dictating what color keffiyehs the “radicals” will wear when they twitter their “protests.”
And while we’re talking about connoisseurs of kitsch, let’s get rid of hipsters here, too. It’s funny: In America we went straight from a conformist/non-conformist dichotomy to a universal heterogeneity that’s almost completely meaningless because of a lack of authenticity in how people adorn themselves.
In other words, we cover ourselves in white noise.
The problem with media isn’t so much that there is too much information – anyone who watches network news knows that, more than likely, less actual information is imparted to the viewer than before – but a form of saturation of spectacle has taken effect: Disinformation, advertising and just straight nonsense take equal space and are given equal credence. In a sense, fashion is the physical iteration of just that.
So just as I will probably never buy an e-reader for the fear that actual books – y’know, pure unadulterated sources of information, distilled, from cover to cover – would end up being portioned and chopped up like newspaper articles now, both in print and online, with spliced-in nonsense at every turn, I have absolutely no idea what somebody’s saying when they walk outside with a t-shirt displaying a sports team that doesn’t exist, jeans with holes and other forms of wear that they didn’t themselves put there, and a cell phone that performs its secondary abilities better than its primary function.
They are, quite literally, walking disinformation. They cancel me out, and they’re not even making a political point.