By Noah Johnson (@noahvjohnson)
The New York Times has a list of overused words and phrases that have over time been rendered meaningless or cliché. Thus, NYT journalists are discouraged from using terms like “ironic,” “icon,” and the "the one percent."
Our suggestion for the paper of record: Ban the word “hipster.”
This isn’t the first time that the NYT has “discovered Brooklyn,” but today's piece in the Style section is one out-of-touch anthropological dispatch too far.
The article, How I Became a Hipster, is a middle-aged writer's effort to "see what the demographic behind nanobatched chervil and the continually cited show 'Girls' could teach [him] about life and craft cocktails" by embedding himself at the fancy-shmancy Wythe Hotel in Greenpoint for a long weekend to "educate himself, canvassing Kings County’s artisan-loving, kale-devouring epicenter."
Gross, right? You don't even have to read it to know how cringe-inducing it is.
Even worse? The print version of the story ran with the headline "Will.I.Amsburg." Shit you not. How the NYT could conflate Brooklyn's elitist artisan culture with the Black Eyed Peas is beyond confounding—it’s downright bizarre.
It's also bizarre that the paper still uses the word “hipster” at all. It's lazy writing from a journalist who is basically trolling everyone. (Mission accomplished, Henry Alford.)
Seriously: Is there a more meaningless term than “hipster” in our modern lexicon?
Here are a few examples of what Alford thinks a hipster is:
• a 19th-century farmer
• a rooftop gardener
• a chickeneer (WTF?)
• an organic farmer
• a country-store clerk who has lost his spectacles in the barley
All this from a grown-ass man who is afraid of a straight-razor shave. What are this dude’s reference points? How limited could his experience of Brooklyn possibly be?
Hipsters don't get neck shaves, take knife skills classes, or barter for old books.
Extremely limited, apparently. He refers to his quest as a mission "to get the true Brooklyn experience" Well, I'm offended and I'm not even from Brooklyn. That Alford’s entire experience with the city's largest and most diverse borough involves exactly zero non-whites is almost as disheartening as his observation that hipster Brooklyn is suddenly becoming rural 19th-century England. Even if Williamsburg is 85% white people, the fact that the neighborhood acts as a stand-in for all of Brooklyn is just as problematic.
And what about the economics of Alford's true Brooklyn experience? The New York Observer estimates that NYT spent at least $1,600 on the article. Do hipsters really have it like that these days? I think not.
You know who does? Rich old people who love venturing over the bridge to experience all the glories of this new, contrived artisan culture.
Hipsters don't shop at H. W. Carter and Sons, get neck shaves, take knife skills classes, or barter for old books. They might work at those places, but that's because rich old people patronize them.
Unironically, the old people are the hipsters there.
"I like this generation of young folk. Their food is terrific, and they find even the most insignificant things ‘awesome,’” writes Alford.
That's because, Alford, my friend, it's all for you.