Dear Artists: On Hipster Hunting And Artistic McCarthyism

Stop calling each other hipsters. Please.

The entirety of this idea rings in my head in McCarthy-era accusations — “are you now or have you ever been a hipster?” Giles Corey’s voice from Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’ stoically encourages “more weight”, and relieving him his fate is more important than you getting your intellectual rocks off (pun shamelessly intended).

The more effort our community invests in deciding who is hipster, or what is hipster, or how or why or when a hipster is truly a hipster — the less effort you invest into your interests, your future, and your education, and most importantly, your art.

Theoretically, it stands to reason that this makes you less adept at your own artistry, simply due to the fact that, the less time you expend on expanding and exercising your personal repertoire of skill, the weaker your artistic reflexes become. If you happen to be an artist studying at any academic level, you can see the folly here given the usually-high program costs.

Now, if you are willing to replace those hard-won reflexes with the ability to identify (per individually-developed requirements and ideologies) hipsters in their natural habitat, bully for you. Or, if this happens to be part of your personal artistry, or a profoundly important socioeconomically-based installation project pertaining to this concept, please continue being you. I encourage your art and would thoroughly support the existence of your project. But if this does not sound like you, I have a piece of unfortunate news.

You are buying into the witch hunt-inspired, hipster-hunting, Mean-Girls-esque culture which Gen X, Gen Y, and the Millennials have built an order of magnitude more than the person you feel you are qualified to be judging.

I would be lying if I claimed to have never fallen victim to this culture of accusation-encouraging, classification-driven, disingenuous art people: we are each capable of great and terrible things. And so, to speak from the experience which comes from living the ignorance of youth to its fullest potential, accusation is the cousin of confrontation and is generally a really, really bad and altogether forever-regrettable idea (particularly if you have no marketable skill for real-life confrontation).

As a community, it stands to reason that we can make more headway promoting the importance and value of art to society if we don’t attack one another internally (our friend Abraham Lincoln touched upon this widely-applicable concept quite some time ago). We exist in a time where there is great need for artists who will accurately address the world’s changing problems (and solutions) where there are boundless resources for many, and next to none for others. As a community, the time has come to see art for art without disparaging one another on the basis of our personal choices. As a community, we must leave behind all antecedent expectations: and exceed them limitlessly. We cannot continue with these artless attacks on one another in any capacity. Criticism has its place, but let not that criticism take the hand of cattiness, for no one will benefit.

Now that I, too, have expended valuable time, brain chemicals, and caffeine resources discussing concept this with my ever-receptive computer screen, perhaps those who discuss this freely and willingly have, in fact, accomplished their goal by drawing another party into the melee. If this be the case, please accept my congratulations for a job well done… You hipster.


Published by

Caroline C. Evans Abbott

I am a rising Master of Research (M.Res) English Literature candidate at the University of Glasgow, incoming MFA Writing candidate at Sarah Lawrence College, and a recent Honors Program graduate of the B.A. Studio Art program at Albertus Magnus College (2015). From 2015 - 2016, I served as an English, Writing, and Creative Enrichment Tutor for the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, a Native American Reservation in Brooks, California, and from 2014 - 2015 as a Writing Associate (Tutor) in the Albertus Magnus College Writing Center. I am based in West London.

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