White Hot: Post-ironic Irony
Ten or fifteen years ago, in near-paleolithic hipster times, you’d see trustfunders in blue-collar foam domes and polyester work shirts with names like “Gus” or “Clement” embroidered on them. A PBR in hand, the most working-class of all working-class beers. And all of it was ironic, because these dudes had never worked a day in their lives, if you don’t count practicing with their experimental dronewave band as work. The girls were no different, piling on ugly sweaters and homemade smocks, ironically peering through granny glasses at their knitting, shakily riding coaster bikes with huge baskets on the front, crafting, baking, and basically doing everything their home economics teachers taught them to do in seventh grade, except, like, not for real.
Then something happened. Time passed. That money from the parents, which was never as much as one might have anticipated, ran low and fizzled out. Life happened. Those guys had to get jobs — pushing brooms, turning wrenches, carrying things, delivering things. Suddenly that ironic work shirt became pretty practical. On one’s own dime, saving money on cheap beer seemed like a good idea. Couples married. Children were born. Those girls who “like to knit” lost the quotation marks and became women who actually liked to knit. The granny glasses became actual bifocals. Crafting circles became a real social outlet. It still seemed a little punk rock to wipe that cake batter off of your sleeve tattoo, but the thrill of punk rock was nothing compared to the joy of baking a nice cake for your loved ones.
Irony, in these ancient circles at least, disappeared, replaced by a new, more humble, earnestness.
But that was then and this is now. That was them and this is you. You aren’t middle-aged. You sure as hell aren’t earnest. Swipe your ATM card: There’s plenty of money in your account. It’s time for a new hipster. A meta-hipster. It’s time for post-ironic irony.
Now listen up, because this is complicated and you should definitely not attempt this if you have any doubts about your ironic “abilities.” Where they zigged, you zig harder. Where they zagged, you zag like your life depended on it. Where they said, “Hey! Look at me! I’m a traditional American!” You say, “Hey! Look at me! I’m a pre-post-ironic previous-generation hipster!” And then you wink like your eyeball is about to fall out.
This is what makes it white hot: You’re going to have to step way outside your comfort zone. Seriously, you’re going to have to drink PBR. You’re going to have to dress like a buffoon, and not the good kind of buffoon but the lame kind of buffoon. You’re going to have to listen to Death Cab. It’s going to get ugly and dangerous.
But if you pull this off, you’re a hipster stuntman. You can do this. We know you can. And if you can’t, well, it was nice knowing you.