Once upon a time, people cared about hipsters enough to loathe them. Knowing I was at risk to take the identity myself, I made sure not to move to a gentrified neighborhood in Portland. I didn’t drink craft beer. I can’t grow facial hair, so that saved me from the mustache thing.
But I couldn’t shake my gourmet coffee habits. I wore vests and ascots. I’d already gone to liberal arts school. And I was chronically literary. Despite my attempts to escape, I sorta became the token hipster of Española, New Mexico.
Eventually I leaned into the identity. Investigating my sensibilities, I tried to figure where the line was. Where would my sense of beauty become a cause for loathing?
What I found was this basic tenant: Culture doesn’t belong to me. My ‘image’ was a result of many influences for which I was, at best, an ambassador. It follows that I should probably know what I was representing if I’m gonna flaunt it.
I’ve been trying to avoid the word appropriation, but I may as well say it. We’re in an age of the blatant politicization of everything so maybe the only way to get-out is to go-through. Appropriation—as unavoidable as the word hipster (the two go hand in hand)—is the vague yet menacing danger that looms behind every disconnected style decision.
To evoke a hundred-plus years of social inequity and ethnic disenfranchisement—this is the cost of a frivolous image. Don’t be a poser, or else the ghost of Urban Outfitters will haunt you forever in endless reiterations of those horrible ‘Navajo panties.’
Native American art deserves recognition. Like I said in the last post, such recognition is not to constrain the impact of that art within its specific context. Rather, we recognize to connect the beauty with the source. From there, we can flaunt to our hearts’ content.
Ok, I know the subject makes you sweat. Go dry yourself off—use one of these. That’ll connect ya.