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Down With Hipsters!

Anti-hipster rabble-rousing in instalments. Today: hipster films

‘The Down With Hipsters’ pentagram is still drawn on the floor. There are blokes out there trying to swat that pesky fly, of course there are. Hipsters from all walks of life have gotten all dressed up in their best tunics and slit the throats of their favourite pets to ask the Hades of modernity to show them his favour and end the wretched life of yours truly (still alive so far, unless I happen to be run over by a bus or flattened under a falling piano today). It hasn’t worked. DWH is a power that goes beyond spells cast by amateurs and cheap palm-reading tricks. DWH is a sword raised in the name of justice to cut off stinking fringe, to shave off mangy beards, to make skinny jeans into shorts like Lemmy’s, and to sever the heads of those infidels who are asking for it as if they were the heads of giant prawns to be sucked for their juices and tossed away onto a rotting trash heap.

Not even the darkest secret meeting of modern minds will be able to mitigate the undead laments arising from this crypt. Because as long as there are 30-somethings wearing ski sweaters and horn-rimmed glasses, with their rusty bicycles and homeless look, as long as there are songs by Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes or films by Wes Anderson or Michel Gondry, words full of bile will continue to ooze, to be indelibly etched in blood and poison onto the highest peaks of this virtual Mount Sinai. Protected by the same Divine Law that Christian knights appealed to in the heat of battle against the Saracens.

If the Right Hand of Destiny seemed to be on our side previously, now more than ever we’re going to need the help of our Lord, because our aim is ambitious, and sure to awaken the ire of Beelzebub: hipster film has been put up against the wall of DWH. Guernica”? That’s like an episode of “Queer As Folk” next to the horror that hangs over these lines. Because this fondue of malignancy is dedicated to a single goal: to unmask that threat to the art of film, the evil league of hipsters who do not hesitate to enthrone lunatics as “cult” directors. Yes, you heard me right, “cult”, a weighty word to define a style that time, that judge who (if I may quote Spanish sports journalist José María García) cannot be bribed, who always has the final say, will put in its place.

Hipster Days

Obviously hipster directors aren’t hipster because they want to be. They’re hipster because it is decided by the collective artificial intelligence known as Hipsterism. It isn’t the poor director’s fault that a generation of extravagant urban bucks connected to each other by a mysterious ether of extreme insipidness consider his or her films to be the best thing since sliced bread, and on top of that, adopt it as the cinematic expression of their philosophy of life. Some may enjoy being treated like this, but I’m sure that many of those filmmakers aren’t at all thrilled to find themselves washed up on this shore, fished out and served up by that little group that spend their days smoking pot, eating ramen noodles, and drinking coffee.

Being liked by cool people has more disadvantages than advantages— why kid ourselves? The dictatorship of hipsters is nothing to sneeze at. When directors are allowed to form a part of the club of the chosen ones, the hipster squad is the only group allowed to weigh in with their judgements on the fortés and flaws of their films. And God save you, you ragged and pathetic mortal, from mouthing off about the latest from Spike Jonze. That would be like getting half a head of lettuce stuck in your teeth and then flashing a big smile at a crowd of people.

If you risk it and you open your mouth, the alarm bells of the hipster’s pride will sound, and he will take a patronizing attitude towards you, maybe even allowing himself the luxury of patting you on the cheek and trying to show you, at all costs, that this is his territory and you don’t belong there at all. He’ll make a disparaging comment on your more pedestrian tastes here—Clint Eastwood is a paranoid old crock, Spielberg is a sentimental hack, etc.—and then comes the flood of information on the life and times of the hipster director that you mentioned. There’s that irritating superiority that the cool beasts take shelter behind, an almost instinctive blind obstinacy in making sure that you know that your tastes are a waste of time, and that the band of the clever is really moved to the core by every new film that they discover.

In a way, the irritating untouchability of everything that goes with the hipster aesthetic and the systematic rejection of everything outside of their little circle of salt makes many non-card-carrying film-lovers, yours truly among them, break out in an acute case of psoriasis every time some film paladin from the cool squad decides to nurse his litter on the same old idiocy-enriched milk. And not for purely film-related reasons. Just as a sort of allergy to hipster nonsense. Why do I have to feel like a creep when I run into a bloke who knows “Donnie Darko” and “The Life Aquatic” by heart, but who has never deigned to watch a Sergio Leone or James Gray film in his life? Dude, stick to your little films and your weird directors. Keep thinking that you have personally discovered the world of film, but I’m not finished yet. Listen up: before you let loose your know-it-all diatribes, try to get those little bits of shish kebab out of your beard. And you don’t need to shout because everybody in the queue can hear you, you git.

But I’m getting off track. The only thing that hipsters manage to do, like what happens with Woody Allen or Bruce Springsteen and their staunch group of ass-lickers, is to make us hate filmmakers whom we would like in another context; that is to say, we have it in for them just because their faithful followers are such cretins. To what extent is it profitable for a director to swim in the tar of modernity and never leave it? Alright, it’s a blessing for their egos to have a string of awe-stricken followers who piss all over themselves with excitement every time they blow their noses. But it can be a death-trap for the future of their careers to slip into the complacency of the Sundance aura. This being liked by hipsters is a nasty business. Let’s get personal: I like Wes Anderson, I’ve seen all of his films—in reality almost all of them seemed good to me, but the use of his film as a weapon for hipster reaffirmation burns me up so much that I am incapable of following his work without feeling an irrational, furious hatred at the same time. It’s absolutely gratuitous, of course, but entirely inevitable. Animal instinct.

Oh, hipster, how great thou art

Hipsters live in a permanent state of non-drug-induced tripping. Any psychiatrist would certify this diagnosis, but yours truly is making it just by looking. Spending their waking hours in that utterly stupid mental state has completely destroyed their neurons, and their reptilian brains are screaming more, more, more of the same! There is no secret to hipster tastes. The first thing that they look for in a film is extravagance, oddity, impossible colourfulness. Wes Anderson has been trapped in this perverse self-perpetuating cycle for some time: his public asks him for strange characters and antiheros who seem to go through the world on a different wavelength from the rest of us mere mortals. And most of his work has been trapped in this same loop.

Distance from reality, nostalgia for lost innocence, an inability to take on the responsibilities of an adult life in society, the face of a prat: this is music to the hipster’s ears. He feels moved by the nearly-existentialist fragility of characters like those of, say, Sofia Coppola. Hipsters start licking their lips and get a tingling in their perineum every time that Kirsten Dunst turns up playing another agonised soul, or when Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson pout at them and show themselves to be amazed at the futility of life under the bucolic neon lights of Tokyo. How comforting it must be to feel better and different from the rest of society just because, and to find other suckers cut from the same pattern as you prancing around on the big screen. These are the margins inhabited by the girls from “Ghost World”, who perhaps embody the most asocial side of the hipster public, or the pretentious twit in “Juno”, with that exasperating little folk song under her arm: the rest of humanity doesn’t exist for them, they’re on another planet, only they know how to live with that touch of bitterness and freaky joie de vivre that is so typical of the folks from Hipsterland.

Hipsters will also demand that their favourite films be sprinkled with their favourite consumer goods. The film simply must have the hottest independent music of the moment playing in it too. Hell, if shoegaze music can be shoehorned into a film about Marie Antoinette, it must be done, and that’s all there is to it. Videogames and comics tend to abound in the periodical table of hipster film. “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” might very well respond to the needs of the geeky hipster: a rock band, a video console aesthetic, exacerbated freakiness, Michael Cera in tight t-shirts…

In a sense, hipster film is infantile by definition. Evasive. It’s normal that reality and fantasy are mixed with uneven results, as was seen in Spike Jonze’s magnificent “Where The Wild Things Are” and that infuriating cow pat of a film, “The Science Of Sleep” by Michel Gondry—I have to wonder who was the unlucky bastard who decided to finance that flop. The film-loving hipster doesn’t only like to let his imagination fly— he’s also a romantic animal, but in his own way. Always with extravagance and a tongue-in-cheek distance. On their list of film idols, there is no place for raw emotion. When it comes to love, they have to appeal to the absorption of characters that experience relationships from a fey point of view bordering on the ridiculous: freebased indie saccharine at its purest, so that we understand each other.

One-of-a-kind love like that of Michel Gondry’s “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind”. Cultured romantic comedies like “(500) Days Of Summer”, by Marc Webb. Young couples, in their own world, ragingly modern, given over to the spontaneity of the moment, who wear vintage clothes, go to indie music concerts, adore silence, and think of sex as something very supplementary. And everybody knows the faces of those characters all too well. Because the hipster dictatorship even holds sway in castings. Michael Cera, Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Vincent Gallo, Kirsten Dunst (and Kristen Stewart), Chloë Sevigny… it’s always the same faces, doing the same thing, to be watched by the same folks. There is no rest for the wicked. And there will be no rest for DWH. Undercover agents tell me that Miyazaki is also a hipster. Onward Christian (Slater) soldiers! To your arms, and keep the blades of your swords clean, my brothers, the crusade has only just begun!

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