I can’t say when hipsters appeared and how long the term lasted within different generations, but it has clearly been muttered in past 10 years, mainly in relation to art and music. These fields of interest tend to lean rebellious, yet are looked at as tuning rods for what’s to come in taste and pop culture. Attending a Yeasayer concert tonight—typically considered a hipster, indie rock/folk/pop band—I would not have mistaken many of the fans for hipsters. It just made me realize the proximity of Wrigleyville to Boystown and that hipster has become an easy pill to swallow. Coincidentally, today also marked the release of Grimes’s video for her new single “Genesis.”
There was a flash of online debate about the video’s aesthetics—homage to past and present pop stars, namely Britney Spears and Lady Gaga. As much as I rolled my eyes the first view, something pulled me in and I went back for more. These kids (and I am not trying to use the word pejoratively, I’m just older) are not just hipster, but queers. You have the Genesis character sharing similar traits to a drag queen, (bad) attempts of vogueing and duck walking, and members of Grimes’s posse looking rather gay—fey boys and butch girls. After partaking in many queer dances in the last 5 years, I didn’t really need this video to tell me that queer and hipster can easily go hand in hand. But this does seem to mark a cultural sea change.
Also landing with a huge thud today was Pitchfork’s Peoples List, were the public was invited to vote on their favorite albums from the past 15 years. This was not a surprising list, but it acted as a testament to what indie and hipster culture has been—predominantly white male rockers. So, it is actually refreshing, and great, to see Grimes get attention as the new indie darling while maintaining her feminine, queer identity. Now, I have no clue if she identifies as queer and I don’t want to base my argument on just aesthetics (even though they do play an important role). What also makes this video queer is the attitude and stance the characters seem to take. The women have a very strong, defiant attitude while not resorting to masculine posing. And while there are ‘sexy’ parts in the video, they do not seem to be directed to a specific gender—the sexuality present seems to be more fluid than targeted. Possibly not intentional, this does seem to be a counter to the previous decade’s sensitive male (singer/songwriter) who struggled with his masculinity but didn’t seem to make a connection to real femininity/feminism (of course there are some exceptions, like Kevin Barnes (arguable)).
In terms of pop culture, the second year of a decade seems to be somewhat of an indicator that the previous decade is over. Hearing Grimes for the first time at the end of 2011/beginning of 2012, I grew excited for her album, Visions, to come out. Now I am more excited to see where she and her queer peers can possibly take pop/culture.