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A Hip Hopera

“Slicker than a porpoise and thicker than a horse is”

Enrico Caruso rocked a hipster ‘stache.
Enrico Caruso rocked a hipster ‘stache.

Dear Hipster: What kind of music is best for working out? — La Jolla Spin Class Junkie

I wouldn’t know. We hipsters prefer to remain thin by smoking cigarettes and eating kale.

Dear Hipster: I read a Wall Street Journal article recently about European opera houses becoming hip with the Millennials. Do you think such a thing could ever happen among American Millennials, or is the cultural illiteracy on this side of the Atlantic too strong? Second question, do hipsters like opera ironically or otherwise? — I. Pagliacci, Little Italy

For starters, if you’re going to bring in The Youth in all its iterations, you’ve gotta push the prices down. Way down. Wanna know how I know this? Because I had to sneak around the WSJ paywall to read the article you mentioned. Sad but true. We Millennials et al., inclusive of hipsters generally, staunchly refuse to pay for anything on account of being accustomed to receiving everything for “free” from Facebook, Google, etc. Of course, by “free” I mean, “paid for by relinquishing any right we had to be secure in our own private lives,” but, potato-potato, right?

It doesn’t end there, because once you’ve slashed ticket prices to the point of being competitive with an evening at Dunkin Donuts, you need to get past the second half of your inquiry, which is where this whole project stumbles. Unfortunately, at least in the eyes of those who would pack American opera halls with the tattooed avant garde, hipsters don’t really do opera.

I don’t even pretend to know why, but attempts to modernize opera always seem to fail. Skeptics who don’t believe me can look no further than the 2001 MTV made-for-TV movie Carmen: A Hip Hopera, in which Beyonce gives us the objectively stupid line “slicker than a porpoise and thicker than a horse is” in place of the habanera. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good early-2000s travesty as much as the next hipster, but opera doesn’t translate well, and the harder one tries, the weirder it gets.

Maybe this points to cultural illiteracy, maybe not. I find things like this can achieve sudden, unexpected popularity with the hipster set. For example, when you think the pioneer housewife’s skill for canning preserves will die out, hipsters start pickling and canning everything. Ditto for butchery and straight razor shaves. If you wake up one day soon and find opera has suddenly and without warning taken the hipster world by storm, rest assured it happened for the same reason hipsters do everything else: because.

Dear Hipster: Between woodworking and metalworking, which is the more hipster passtime? — Chad, Encanto

The non-exhaustive list of famous woodworkers includes Bob Vila, Harrison Ford before he became Han Solo, and Jesus.

The non-exhaustive list of famous metalworkers includes those angry dudes from American Chopper who yell at each other a lot; stoner YouTube celebrities who recreate fantasy weaponry from movies and videogames; and Hephaestus, the deformed fire god who was expelled from Olympus in an early example of disability discrimination.

There’s really no comparison. The woodworker, clad in tool belt and flannel shirt, idly brushing sawdust from his beard is always a PBR away from hipster greatness.

— DJ Stevens

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Enrico Caruso rocked a hipster ‘stache.
Enrico Caruso rocked a hipster ‘stache.

Dear Hipster: What kind of music is best for working out? — La Jolla Spin Class Junkie

I wouldn’t know. We hipsters prefer to remain thin by smoking cigarettes and eating kale.

Dear Hipster: I read a Wall Street Journal article recently about European opera houses becoming hip with the Millennials. Do you think such a thing could ever happen among American Millennials, or is the cultural illiteracy on this side of the Atlantic too strong? Second question, do hipsters like opera ironically or otherwise? — I. Pagliacci, Little Italy

For starters, if you’re going to bring in The Youth in all its iterations, you’ve gotta push the prices down. Way down. Wanna know how I know this? Because I had to sneak around the WSJ paywall to read the article you mentioned. Sad but true. We Millennials et al., inclusive of hipsters generally, staunchly refuse to pay for anything on account of being accustomed to receiving everything for “free” from Facebook, Google, etc. Of course, by “free” I mean, “paid for by relinquishing any right we had to be secure in our own private lives,” but, potato-potato, right?

It doesn’t end there, because once you’ve slashed ticket prices to the point of being competitive with an evening at Dunkin Donuts, you need to get past the second half of your inquiry, which is where this whole project stumbles. Unfortunately, at least in the eyes of those who would pack American opera halls with the tattooed avant garde, hipsters don’t really do opera.

I don’t even pretend to know why, but attempts to modernize opera always seem to fail. Skeptics who don’t believe me can look no further than the 2001 MTV made-for-TV movie Carmen: A Hip Hopera, in which Beyonce gives us the objectively stupid line “slicker than a porpoise and thicker than a horse is” in place of the habanera. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good early-2000s travesty as much as the next hipster, but opera doesn’t translate well, and the harder one tries, the weirder it gets.

Maybe this points to cultural illiteracy, maybe not. I find things like this can achieve sudden, unexpected popularity with the hipster set. For example, when you think the pioneer housewife’s skill for canning preserves will die out, hipsters start pickling and canning everything. Ditto for butchery and straight razor shaves. If you wake up one day soon and find opera has suddenly and without warning taken the hipster world by storm, rest assured it happened for the same reason hipsters do everything else: because.

Dear Hipster: Between woodworking and metalworking, which is the more hipster passtime? — Chad, Encanto

The non-exhaustive list of famous woodworkers includes Bob Vila, Harrison Ford before he became Han Solo, and Jesus.

The non-exhaustive list of famous metalworkers includes those angry dudes from American Chopper who yell at each other a lot; stoner YouTube celebrities who recreate fantasy weaponry from movies and videogames; and Hephaestus, the deformed fire god who was expelled from Olympus in an early example of disability discrimination.

There’s really no comparison. The woodworker, clad in tool belt and flannel shirt, idly brushing sawdust from his beard is always a PBR away from hipster greatness.

— DJ Stevens

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