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Trapped between ironic homage and unfettered nostalgia

Steampunks squat the 19th century

Dear Hipster:

You said hipsters venerate the 1980s, but why the ’80s? Why not the ’90s. Or the 1880s?

— Dave

The late 19th Century remains mostly off limits to contemporary hipsters, mostly because the steampunks have already laid claim to the Victorian era — tweed, monocles, and all — and steampunk is well outside the bounds of hipness. We live in a world big enough for hipsters and steampunks, and never the twain shall meet. Except for chap hop. Maybe it’s the instrumental hip-hop beats that echo DJ Shadow and Dan the Automator, but Professor Elemental and Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer manage to bridge the gap. It’s probably because they’re not at all serious...or are they?!?

Being unsure of the gap between ironic homage and unfettered nostalgia is one of the 21st-century hipster’s calling cards, which leads us to the question of, “why not the ’90s?”

The problem there is that many of today’s hipsters grew up in the Nineties, and it’s impossible to have an ironic appreciation of something that they sincerely enjoyed as children. Imagine, a 20-something North Park hipster girl toting about a Tamagotchi, trying to pass it off as an ironic accessory of the long-lost ’90s. What’s next, an ironic viewing of Armageddon, the 1998 Michael Bay asteroid-disaster blockbuster that 2014’s hipsters probably watched as teenagers, hoping against hope (and without a hint of irony) that Affleck and Liv Tyler would make it, if not for that pesky space rock? I think not!

And, as for why we <3 the ’80s in such a major way, all I have to say is, why not? Even the ’80s loved the ’80s! I mean, that’s the decade that produced Blade Runner, Terminator, and the first three Pixies records. What’s not to love?

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Dear Hipster:

You said hipsters venerate the 1980s, but why the ’80s? Why not the ’90s. Or the 1880s?

— Dave

The late 19th Century remains mostly off limits to contemporary hipsters, mostly because the steampunks have already laid claim to the Victorian era — tweed, monocles, and all — and steampunk is well outside the bounds of hipness. We live in a world big enough for hipsters and steampunks, and never the twain shall meet. Except for chap hop. Maybe it’s the instrumental hip-hop beats that echo DJ Shadow and Dan the Automator, but Professor Elemental and Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer manage to bridge the gap. It’s probably because they’re not at all serious...or are they?!?

Being unsure of the gap between ironic homage and unfettered nostalgia is one of the 21st-century hipster’s calling cards, which leads us to the question of, “why not the ’90s?”

The problem there is that many of today’s hipsters grew up in the Nineties, and it’s impossible to have an ironic appreciation of something that they sincerely enjoyed as children. Imagine, a 20-something North Park hipster girl toting about a Tamagotchi, trying to pass it off as an ironic accessory of the long-lost ’90s. What’s next, an ironic viewing of Armageddon, the 1998 Michael Bay asteroid-disaster blockbuster that 2014’s hipsters probably watched as teenagers, hoping against hope (and without a hint of irony) that Affleck and Liv Tyler would make it, if not for that pesky space rock? I think not!

And, as for why we <3 the ’80s in such a major way, all I have to say is, why not? Even the ’80s loved the ’80s! I mean, that’s the decade that produced Blade Runner, Terminator, and the first three Pixies records. What’s not to love?

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Comments
2

So many people (me included) thought "Blade Runner" stunk when they saw it in the '80s. But apparently it has gained a new respect with its "director's cut" released many years later. The awful voiceover narration was a big problem with the original.

June 12, 2014

Dude, I &lt;3 Blade RUnner. one of my top five for sure.

I think what's cool about it is that it still looks good, despite decades of special effects advancements. Same could be said of Star Wars.

June 16, 2014

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