I applaud Hipsterdom’s emphasis on hand craft in an increasingly digital world. I think the disciplining of our hands and minds to craft art, food, drink, furniture, clothing, and what have you is ennobling. To some extent, at least, it even preserves culture, which brings me to my question — does Hipsterdom believe, as I do, that Western Civilization ought to be preserved? If so, how?
— J. Aubrey, Encanto
This seems like an innocent question, and it might be if not for the fact that “preserving Western Civilization” is a watchword for white supremacy groups in the 21st-century. Their basic message is that immigrants will gradually water down Euro-American culture till nothing remains and we all die horribly. I don’t think they mean a figurative death, either. They actually think we are all going to die because Islam and Mexico.
(Dear Hipster: Why must racists ruin things for the rest of us?)
I find it hard to believe that the only way to preserve Western culture is through xenophobia and white rights. Integral parts of 21st-century culture in the political West would be impossible without the influx of ideas from Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Cultural intermingling in the western world has produced innumerable innovations enjoyed by hipsters nation...make that worldwide.
Just look at how much we love Sriracha.
This humble condiment, imbued with such fiery deliciousness that it’s inspired a thousand semi-satirical love letters and graced the menus of hipster bistros from SD to Williamsburg; such a humble condiment represents Asian-American culture more perfectly than any academic essay ever could. It was created by a Vietnamese refugee living in Los Angeles, marketed to Asian American communities, and quickly adopted by forward-thinking hipster foodie types. Huy Fong Sriracha is equal parts dragon tears and the American Dream, and if “pure” Western civilization is the price we pay for scorchingly delicious eggs, then so be it!
Of course, maybe you’re coming at this from a totally different angle. If, by “preserving Western Civilization,” you mean that people ought to be learning Beethoven and Chopin alongside Justin Bieber, then I guess I’m with you on that one. Even so, don’t the institutions of mainstream Western culture have all the pillars of support they need? To me, the existence of museums, major universities, governments, industry, and the hearts and souls of an ever-expanding bourgeoisie all but guarantee that Western Civilization as we know it will live on till such time as global warming kills us all.
In the meantime, who will remember anonymous street artists if not for hipsters’ Instagrams? How will we record the legions of bands that never made it if not for the derelict Tumblrs of a thousand hipsters? Vintage milk crates would all have been burned for firewood long ago if not for hipster furniture repurposing, and thus our children’s children’s children will understand that the predecessor to their Guaranteed 100% Delicious Milklike Product (registered trademark of the WalFood-Monsanto corporation) once came in bottles after being squeezed out of cows.
Culturally speaking, hipsters champion the obscure and the easily forgotten. The culture we seek to preserve is the one that the establishment ignores in favor of anything mainstream. Eventually, if enough hipsters take an interest in something (e.g., Sriracha sauce), it becomes mainstream, at which point the hipsters’ job is done, and we are over it.