The XX Factor

Were the 2000s a Decade of Trying Too Hard?

In a lighthearted piece in the New York Observer, Simon Doonan makes the case the past decade was defined by a bunch of appearance-obsessed cool-chasers constantly trying to outdo one another. In a word: hipsters.

It was-drumroll-the INDIE decade. It was the decade of desperately-trying-to-be-the-edgiest-person-on-the-planet. It was the decade of I-don’t-care-if-these-skinny-jeans-are-going-to-induce-a-thrombosis- I-am-hip-therefore-I-am.

Sure, hipsterism became a thing sometime over the last few years. But it seems like every decade has had its own alternative culture. The ‘80s had punk. The ‘90s, grunge. Are the indie twee passengers of the L train really so representative of the decade as a whole? Doonan seems to think so, and predicts that soon the masses will be eschewing cool in favor of simple mainstream flavors:

What does all this mean for you, the ordinary woman in the street? Girlfriend, it bodes well. Relax! Roll down your Alexander Wang knee-highs and prepare to welcome in the DORKY TENS. Prepare to embrace populist pursuits like the Eurovision Song Contest (May) and the World Cup (June). No more obscene headache-inducing obscurantist poetry slams for you. No more nerve-racking-am-I-cool-enough gallery openings, and, most importantly of all, no more drinking your own urine. Mazel tov!

Out with the hipsters, in with the dorks! Except that dorkhood has already been appropriated by the denizens of cool. In fact, hipster culture has never involved a complete disavowal of mainstream taste but rather an embracing of certain populist elements, albeit with an ironic attitude. Have you been to the Jersey City Chili’s lately? It’s like a Yeasayer concert in there. And no one has gone to “headache-inducing obscurantist poetry slams” since the ‘90s-for the last decade the cool kids have been lining up at the East Village McDonalds for a quick bite before their Webster Hall show. The age of ironic populism is far from over. The cool kids will still be around, and they’ll be at the World Cup in their skinny jeans. Maybe they’ll be wearing Dorky Tens, but if so, only as a mocking embellishment.