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Spotting realism failures in Harry Potter

Does it bug the hell out of you that Jesse from Breaking Bad didn’t have rotten teeth from smoking all that meth?

How does he even afford cigars?
How does he even afford cigars?

Dear Hipster:

One thing that has always bothered me is, why do fictional hipsters always seem to have it so easy? You see some hipsters on TV and movies, and they somehow get away with working minimally but still living in cool apartments, driving cool cars, doing cool expensive things and generally not worrying about such trivial problems as purchasing health insurance or paying off student loans on barista wages. Isn’t it about time we saw more authentic portrayals of hipsters in the media?

— Desiree

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who understand there’s no way Cosmo Kramer could afford the rent on a nice Upper West Side apartment while remaining perpetually unemployed, and those who understand that Seinfeld is a TV show. Both of them kind of have a point.

Spotting realism failures in otherwise pure fiction is the hipsterest way to be a fan of anything. If you’re the hipster Harry Potter fan, you’ve got a bone to pick with J.K. Rowling about how, in a world where there is a magic cure for just about anything other than actual death, nobody has a spell that can cure Harry’s nearsightedness. And yet you’re totally fine with the whole “they do magic” part of the equation. The hipster fan accepts the absurd baseline premises that underpin most situation comedies, but absolutely can’t let go of how that one character did that one thing that was sort of out of character that one time. Can you not get over some perceived anachronism on Mad Men? Does it bug the hell out of you that Jesse from Breaking Bad didn’t have rotten teeth from smoking all that meth? If so, you might have hipsterish fan tendencies of your own!

But on a more serious note, portrayals of carefree hipsters leading pleasant, easy, fashionable lives definitely obscure the stark realities of actually living in the 21st century. The fact is, getting by in the world today is getting harder and harder for a lot of people, even as it gets increasingly easier for a small minority of people. Rent and the cost of important commodities (used cars, essential services, food, etc.) are climbing way faster than wages, and trying to live outside the mainstream is getting more and more challenging. In a lot of ways, it’s much harder to be a conventional hipster today than it was in, say, 2010. Might this shifting social dynamic threaten the very existence of the hipster way of life? Sometimes, I fear it might.

And what a poor bargain that would prove in the long run. Hipsters, in one form or another, have been keeping life interesting for as long as any of us can remember, certainly longer than we have used the word “hipster.” That’s possible because there has always been a place for hipsters, a socioeconomic space in which they could exist; a kind of hipster economic sphere where it was possible to be a part-time barista, part-time experimental artist, and full-time man (or woman) about town. If that romantic, cinematic vision of the hipster lifestyle becomes a complete and total myth, as you indicate it might, then we may all end up living in a much more boring world — just because not enough people could afford to keep it interesting. Maybe, instead of more realistic hipsters in fiction, it would be better if life imitated art a bit more than it does now.

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How does he even afford cigars?
How does he even afford cigars?

Dear Hipster:

One thing that has always bothered me is, why do fictional hipsters always seem to have it so easy? You see some hipsters on TV and movies, and they somehow get away with working minimally but still living in cool apartments, driving cool cars, doing cool expensive things and generally not worrying about such trivial problems as purchasing health insurance or paying off student loans on barista wages. Isn’t it about time we saw more authentic portrayals of hipsters in the media?

— Desiree

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who understand there’s no way Cosmo Kramer could afford the rent on a nice Upper West Side apartment while remaining perpetually unemployed, and those who understand that Seinfeld is a TV show. Both of them kind of have a point.

Spotting realism failures in otherwise pure fiction is the hipsterest way to be a fan of anything. If you’re the hipster Harry Potter fan, you’ve got a bone to pick with J.K. Rowling about how, in a world where there is a magic cure for just about anything other than actual death, nobody has a spell that can cure Harry’s nearsightedness. And yet you’re totally fine with the whole “they do magic” part of the equation. The hipster fan accepts the absurd baseline premises that underpin most situation comedies, but absolutely can’t let go of how that one character did that one thing that was sort of out of character that one time. Can you not get over some perceived anachronism on Mad Men? Does it bug the hell out of you that Jesse from Breaking Bad didn’t have rotten teeth from smoking all that meth? If so, you might have hipsterish fan tendencies of your own!

But on a more serious note, portrayals of carefree hipsters leading pleasant, easy, fashionable lives definitely obscure the stark realities of actually living in the 21st century. The fact is, getting by in the world today is getting harder and harder for a lot of people, even as it gets increasingly easier for a small minority of people. Rent and the cost of important commodities (used cars, essential services, food, etc.) are climbing way faster than wages, and trying to live outside the mainstream is getting more and more challenging. In a lot of ways, it’s much harder to be a conventional hipster today than it was in, say, 2010. Might this shifting social dynamic threaten the very existence of the hipster way of life? Sometimes, I fear it might.

And what a poor bargain that would prove in the long run. Hipsters, in one form or another, have been keeping life interesting for as long as any of us can remember, certainly longer than we have used the word “hipster.” That’s possible because there has always been a place for hipsters, a socioeconomic space in which they could exist; a kind of hipster economic sphere where it was possible to be a part-time barista, part-time experimental artist, and full-time man (or woman) about town. If that romantic, cinematic vision of the hipster lifestyle becomes a complete and total myth, as you indicate it might, then we may all end up living in a much more boring world — just because not enough people could afford to keep it interesting. Maybe, instead of more realistic hipsters in fiction, it would be better if life imitated art a bit more than it does now.

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