This blog entry is in response to today's E-learning assignment: The Merchants of Cool. In the video program there were many interesting points made about consumerism and teen materialism, but what I found most compelling, was the theory of "the giant feedback loop". In section five, the question is asked: "Do shows hyping teen sexuality simply reflect the world of teens? Or are teens imitating the image being sold to them?" For example, the narrator explains that when he and his crew came around to the groups of girls dancing it seemed as if they displayed specific behaviors because they knew the camera was filming them. In respect, The Merchants of Cool project is almost a decade old now, so I have chosen to relate this loop theory to something more current in the culture of college students today: "the hipster".
Generally speaking, hipsters are a a subculture of men and women that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter. As consumers, hipsters shun any product, media or advertisement deemed mainstream or conventional, and consequently the hipster prides him/herself on having obscure/underground or ironic taste. The true irony here is that hipsters are conformists within their own subculture, and are in fact unknowingly following a path that hipsters have carved out years before them. Even hipster rebellion can be bought and sold by the media machine- while clothing companies like American Apparel, and Urban Outfitters make tons of money from the hipster demographic that crave the "effortless cool" look. Another huge aspect of the hipster culture is interest in underground, indie, or obscure music. However, the hipsters rely heavily on sites like Pitchfork Media to tell them what's cool, which bands have "sold out" etc. Here it is: the feedback loop.
There are several websites and forums that parody "underground" hipster culture. My favorite, is a site called Hipster Kitty that often pokes fun at the way a hipster brags about having more obscure music taste than his peers. It's always a competition about who's heard what band first. See example below: