On Hipster Nostalgia

December 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’ve always wondered, silently, to myself, if hipster Nostalgia was really a longing for lost supremacy (both “white” and “male”). As if lurking underneath that nostalgia for 1950s (to take one era as an arbitrary example) fashions and furnishings was something more sinister. The video above (and this blog post) reminded me of my suspicion.

The word “nostalgia” is often associated with a certain level of innocence; we often think of a nostalgia for childhood. Christmas, for example, is a holiday fueled by nostalgia, with its images of children awaiting Santa’s cadre of presents. But “nostalgia” does possess a sense of discomfort, as the word itself is a cognate of nóstos, or “homecoming,” and álgos, or “pain/ache.” So, a longing for childhood experiences of Christmas could also mean that you’d like to come home to a safe place in which Santa provided for you. In other words, you’d like to go back to a time when you were taken care of, comforted, spoiled.

What were the qualities of the time and place that the nostalgic hipster wishes to revive? Does he feel a painful longing to come back to a home where he truly belongs? Could he honestly say that his feelings aren’t all that problematic? Would the hipster really like to live in the 1950s, before the civil rights era? (Or 1890s?) Sometimes I think that they would. Sometimes I think that they think that they are.

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