John 'Fud' Zavacki

BUT I DIGRESS: As a metalhead, I just don’t get hipsters, the nonexistent generation

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Sorry I wasn’t here last week. Sometimes I have to adult, despite my continued protests.

As contrition, I offer the following satirical dissertation, lingua deposited firmly in bucca. So here goes…

I don’t get it.

Seriously, I don’t.

See, I’m a metalhead. When someone would scream “Metalhead!” out of a passing car in a derogatory manner, I beamed with pride!

When asked to describe myself, I always puffed out my chest and replied, “I’m a metalhead!”

Metal turned me on to who Icarus and Sisyphus were, what an ME-109 was, why Wagner was kickass. Bach, too, although my interest in his music originally stemmed from my dad playing it on guitar as far back as I can remember. Metal, however, gave me fresh insight as to how Bach could influence other composers and musical styles.

Metal used words like “paradigm” and “Damoclean,” and if I wanted to know what the goddam song meant, I had to look them up – vocabulary strength through headbanging.

My metalhead identity and the solidarity that ran through the metalhead subculture created a support system that myself and other people my age may not have otherwise had. The friends I bonded over new Mercyful Fate or Judas Priest albums with 30 years ago are still friends now.

I loved all manner of music, but I culturally defined myself as a metalhead. I owned that shit, yo.

Being a metalhead allowed me to discover my own identity, an identity that society at large would not only never have nurtured, but would and did actively attempt to discourage and disassemble. So the comradery of the global community of metalheads gave me the strength to gleefully tell society at large where to stick its conformity and myopic worldview and exactly how deep to cram it, too!

Being a metalhead is a matter of pride.

So, I just don’t get what the fuck is up with hipsters.

They are obviously hipsters. They all dress in very similar styles (as do metalheads). They all enjoy similar activities, like fixed gear bicycles (which are wholly inefficient and make everything more difficult, like the spiked wristbands up to the elbow and heavy leather motorcycle jackets in August of the metalhead).

They all like similar music to one another (music which metalheads all despise. Again, creating solidarity via the same means, albeit with diametric opposition). They pretend not to like that very same music as soon as three or more non-hipster people buy the album (metalheads are similarly inclined, although in the realm of metal, individuality is highly supported and considered sacred, so if one metalhead decides Night Ranger isn’t metal enough, or that Prince does, indeed, kick ass, they are not ostracized. They are subjected to infinite ass-busting, however).

They group together and collectively voice mutual disdain and mock anyone different than themselves. They can spot someone who is not an organic member of their subculture as a poseur a mile away (very metal! Uh, I mean, you know, for a bunch of wussy hipsters).

They are a communal and identifiable group on the fringes of mainstream society. This is something that was always a coveted position, especially within the ranks of the disaffected and drifting youth of America.

So why won’t these fuckheads just admit that’s what they are?

“Are you a hipster?” “No, man, I am not a fucking hipster!

This is the verbal intercourse with which one identifies a hipster. Whaddafuckisdat?

Unlike the vegan, who announces their standing before you can finish introducing yourself to them because they consider the sacrifice and dedication to their specific lifestyle a badge of honor (even if it does make me want to jam a turkey leg down their throat, it nevertheless begs respect), these hipsters are wholly ashamed of who they are.

Think about this – an entire generation of people who are ashamed to admit their identity.

Someday, these people will be in charge of shit. How are they going to run the world if they can’t nut up and say, “Yes, I am a hipster, and I’m proud!”? Well? How?

If being trod upon by less qualified buffoons whose only distinction from themselves is that said buffoons have a pair qualifies as running the world, they’ll do fine. Otherwise, they won’t even try.

Hipsters have an intricate and clandestine musical underground. They manage to make bands that regurgitate diluted ‘90s angst lyrics with ‘80s pop hook rip-offs and are actually hugely popular appear as though they are underground, new, unique, and obscure.

That might not be anything I could get behind, but it’s no mean feat, and the logistics of pulling off a long con of that magnitude is worthy of praise.

Hipsters took their grandparents’ outdated clothing and forced the world to consider these horrific styles fashionable, taking the natural progression of popular fashion and simply side stepping it.

All the while, they’re ignoring the fact that these clothes were awful the first time around and had been sitting in the Salvation Army store, unmolested, for 15 years because of good taste.

Bad fashion is an occurrence that has been the hallmark of a culturally significant youth movement since the 1920s.

But they back no causes en masse as the previous generations had, despite there still being a war, gender inequality, hate crimes, terrorism, environmental decay, racism, homophobia, and police brutality abounding.

Who can keep up with all that when you’re busy advancing gentrification by exercising your entitlement and moving into that sweet apartment in Harlem with the cash from your trust fund? Dude, the rent is soooo cheap! I deserve a place like this, amiright?

Metalheads rarely do much to improve the world. Not because we were oblivious, apathetic, or overtly self-involved; we just figure it’s what the world deserves and we’re all getting what’s coming to us. Fuck ‘em, let it burn. We’ll all go down together.

Hipsters refuse to acknowledge that they, as a group, exist, so they will never receive any notoriety or infamy for any achievement or folly, no matter how culturally significant or damaging.

They ensure their own cultural irrelevance and historical disregard because they are ashamed of who they are.

Conversely, metalheads are still widely considered offensive to the mainstream 40 years after their introduction, in part because they are keen to make everyone aware of their effect on society and culture and their refusal to lend a hand in saving what they see as a flawed, oppressive society whose razing would be a blessing to the survivors.

So, why are hipsters so ashamed of being hipsters?

Is it because their collective tastes are pure affectation designed only to impress other hipsters (who may or may not exists, according to themselves)?

Are the alleged bonds they share with one another over these arbitrary definitions of what is tasteful and/or fashionable that would normally bring a fringe group closer together based less on standing out than blending in and so do nothing to solidify the group as a whole?

Are they aware that they cut a weak figure, that they present an outward appearance of adynamia that even the least of the “square” people feel they can dissect their entire, intricate facade with only a few well-placed adjectives?

Is it all just a massive game of dress-up or follow the leader with no actual cultural significance other than not having to bear the burden of developing, maintaining, and living with one’s own individual identity because someone might criticize it and you’d have to, like, say something, or something, and that’s, like, hard and stuff?

Is it that today’s gadget-only communication conveys but the very surface of a conversation, with the implied inflection and emotion no longer even being considered so that, when confronted with actual face-to-face or even telephone communication, they are so paralyzed with fear that they simply deny who they are out of sheer terror at the prospect of human interaction?

Hipsters, it seems, all have identical Gestapo haircuts and pen nib beards, so perfectly traced out and coiffed as to give the appearance that they’ve been applied with large quantities of spirit gum, while disavowing any vestige of masculinity so as to remain distinctly within the lines of offending no one.

Conversely, metalheads (myself included, having grown my first beard at the age of 15 under the pretense of looking old enough to buy beer. I was totally successful and have had facial hair in one form or another, without exception, for the ensuing 33 years) have used wide and wild variations of long hair, shaved heads, and a copious array of facial hair styles for domination and intimidation, as an outward manifestation of our dissent and rejection of societal norms and to just totally look über manly since the 1970s.

I find it increasingly difficult to curb my disdain for hipsters. Not because I disagree with their fashion, music, terminology, or even their largely awful music – these things could all be used as badges of honor, hallmarks indicating that all of society, including the anti-society metalheads, refuse to accept them, making them a true fringe group. They could be the earmarks of a “you’re too old or too square to understand” ethos. These things could all be indicative of a real, authentic cultural movement.

But they aren’t. They aren’t anything at all because of their complete and utter lack of guts.

In order to be counted as an individual, you must first admit that you exist. Simply stating within your own mind that you are not within the realms of society and culture at large without asserting it to those who are is nothing less than joining their ranks by omission.

If your fear of rejection and ridicule are such that you cannot admit that your style of dress, language, music, and attitude are designed to separate you from the “normal” people, perhaps you’d be best served by dressing like those people do to avoid confusion. It would seem significantly less stressful than having to constantly defend the notion that you don’t exist.

If you don’t openly deny being separate from masses while asserting which fringe group you identify with, you will undoubtedly be mocked by both and accepted by neither.

If you want to change the world, you’ve got to know where upon it you stand.

Own that shit!!!

Blast your Fun, your Black Keys, your Decemberists, and other incredibly derivative and soulless music from the stereo of the vintage Volvo your dad bought you when you’re on your way to some “indie” coffee shop who makes the exact same shitty, burned coffee as Starbucks that you pretend to like, where you’ll meet your equally superficial friends and with whom you’ll profess to adore even worse music because no one has ever heard of it while you attempt to nonchalantly be very aware of how you are trying to be nonchalant, then go see a “reimagining” of a movie that was done right the first time, but because this is “your generation’s” version, you’ll blog glowing reviews of it, despite knowing you hated it as much as your older brother did.

Own that shit!!!

The next time somebody asks, “Hey, are you a hipster?” look them dead level in the eye, square off, and with the greatest conviction, quietly, but firmly say, “Yes. I am a hipster.”

Wait, hang on… all that’ll really do, considering hipster behavior, is confirm that you are, indeed, not a hipster. Huh. That’s weird.

Oh well! Looks like you guys have fucked yourselves coming and going, so never mind!

Damn, it feels good to be a metalhead.

Comic by Michael Kelly

But I Digress features musical ramblings, rumblings, rants, ruminations, and reviews from your friendly neighborhood blowhard. Look for it on Wednesdays on NEPA Scene.