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The moment you first heard about Panda Express releasing an Orange Chicken Sandwich

“Yes, this is indeed a thing”

Need. Not want. Need.
Need. Not want. Need.

Dear Hipster:

Here’s a bit of a hipster paradox that, at least in my opinion, requires a little unpacking. I would be a rich man if I got a nickel every time some random hipster waxed rhapsodic about White Castle sliders, B-movies, reality TV, ugly fashions, bad music, or monster trucks. Now, I know what you’re thinking: they’re being ironic. Wrong. These are genuine expressions of admiration I am thinking of here, even if they’re aimed at the most unadmirable subjects. Given that hipsters tend to be more educated and cosmopolitan than the average citizen, why are hipsters so obsessed with trashy stuff?

Sponsored
Sponsored

— Matt

If you’re a hipster, the moment you first hear about Panda Express releasing an Orange Chicken Sandwich to select test markets, you realize you need it. It is not a transcendental need (like breathing), because before you learned of its existence, you probably did not you understand how badly you needed it. But as soon as you realized ‘Yes, this is indeed a thing,’ you knew it was something you needed. In fact, I have to apologize to all the people for whom this announcement will come as welcome news. I am sorry for awakening your need. And when I say that, I truly mean “need” in the literal sense, not “need” as a hyperbolic expression of garden-variety “want.”

You want the weather to be nice tomorrow. You want another beer. You want the one sports team to defeat the other sports team at the sports event (go team!). What you feel about the Orange Chicken Sandwich is deeper, more instinctive, and less capable of being rationalized. It’s a yearning sustained by the knowledge that, should you fail to acquire the Orange Chicken Sandwich, there will be a void in your life that will never be filled. You need the Orange Chicken Sandwich. You need it the way Elon Musk needs middle-class white people to like his tweets. You are nothing without the Orange Chicken Sandwich.

And you need it because it is oh-so-trashy. If you stop to think about it, an Orange Chicken Sandwich from Panda Express is simultaneously everything bad and good about the world, but on a roll. Although it is in many ways an example of layered bastardization that collects the worst aspects of its constituent parts into one fever dream of cholesterol and hyperglycemia, this monstrosity of grease and sugar manages to represent something magnificent at the same time. It physically embodies a set of human impulses at once terrible and banal, and its existence mocks the very notion of high culture. Accordingly, the hipster must have it, and not strictly for ironic purposes.

The connection you have to something low and trashy can be simpler and more direct — perhaps ultimately more pure and genuine — than the cerebral connection we make with that which belongs more properly to high culture. In a word, it’s more authentic, and this is why hipsters are drawn to stuff that might be considered “trashy.” There is a kind of hardcore realness (as opposed to reality, which is not the same thing) that is inversely proportional to fanciness, and that kind of authenticity is, at least for hipsters, about as addictive as fatty, salty meat slathered in sugar sauce.

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Need. Not want. Need.
Need. Not want. Need.

Dear Hipster:

Here’s a bit of a hipster paradox that, at least in my opinion, requires a little unpacking. I would be a rich man if I got a nickel every time some random hipster waxed rhapsodic about White Castle sliders, B-movies, reality TV, ugly fashions, bad music, or monster trucks. Now, I know what you’re thinking: they’re being ironic. Wrong. These are genuine expressions of admiration I am thinking of here, even if they’re aimed at the most unadmirable subjects. Given that hipsters tend to be more educated and cosmopolitan than the average citizen, why are hipsters so obsessed with trashy stuff?

Sponsored
Sponsored

— Matt

If you’re a hipster, the moment you first hear about Panda Express releasing an Orange Chicken Sandwich to select test markets, you realize you need it. It is not a transcendental need (like breathing), because before you learned of its existence, you probably did not you understand how badly you needed it. But as soon as you realized ‘Yes, this is indeed a thing,’ you knew it was something you needed. In fact, I have to apologize to all the people for whom this announcement will come as welcome news. I am sorry for awakening your need. And when I say that, I truly mean “need” in the literal sense, not “need” as a hyperbolic expression of garden-variety “want.”

You want the weather to be nice tomorrow. You want another beer. You want the one sports team to defeat the other sports team at the sports event (go team!). What you feel about the Orange Chicken Sandwich is deeper, more instinctive, and less capable of being rationalized. It’s a yearning sustained by the knowledge that, should you fail to acquire the Orange Chicken Sandwich, there will be a void in your life that will never be filled. You need the Orange Chicken Sandwich. You need it the way Elon Musk needs middle-class white people to like his tweets. You are nothing without the Orange Chicken Sandwich.

And you need it because it is oh-so-trashy. If you stop to think about it, an Orange Chicken Sandwich from Panda Express is simultaneously everything bad and good about the world, but on a roll. Although it is in many ways an example of layered bastardization that collects the worst aspects of its constituent parts into one fever dream of cholesterol and hyperglycemia, this monstrosity of grease and sugar manages to represent something magnificent at the same time. It physically embodies a set of human impulses at once terrible and banal, and its existence mocks the very notion of high culture. Accordingly, the hipster must have it, and not strictly for ironic purposes.

The connection you have to something low and trashy can be simpler and more direct — perhaps ultimately more pure and genuine — than the cerebral connection we make with that which belongs more properly to high culture. In a word, it’s more authentic, and this is why hipsters are drawn to stuff that might be considered “trashy.” There is a kind of hardcore realness (as opposed to reality, which is not the same thing) that is inversely proportional to fanciness, and that kind of authenticity is, at least for hipsters, about as addictive as fatty, salty meat slathered in sugar sauce.

Sponsored
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