Guys, we've gone and done it: We broke hipsters. We've made fun of their $200 "vintage" shirts and fixies and craft-beer-spewing proboscises for so long that the very term has malfunctioned. "Hipster" is now a meaningless go-to insult for anyone who looks different from you, which is everyone. The hipster is gone. Beards can finally be un-ironic again.
However, as much as it pains me to say this, the death of the hipster is a problem. There must always be a dominant subculture -- the one people love to hate until it occupies so much mind space that it actually hits the mainstream. A few of them actually die; strong ones such as punk come cackling back in the shadows before long, while others such as hippies gain public semi-acceptance and go on doing their thing. Even fucking emos have Hot Topic to remember them by. But, not hipsters -- hipsters are going out like an IPA-tainted diarrhea fart. The mark they leave is distinct, but easily washable. They've been an unsustainable fad -- the Kris Kross jeans of subcultures. So, now that they're on the out, there's a power vacuum, and attempts to fill it with more of the same (see "lumbersexuals" and "yuccies") don't seem to be gaining too much traction.
The balance of the universe is at stake. What we need is the next hipster: a fresh new stereotype to joke about/lust after (depending on your alignment) for the next few years. Seeing as I'm currently locked in the writing barrel, and the other columnists refuse to let me out until I find one, here goes:
I've never been a greaser myself because, frankly, I can only handle so much Buddy Holly, but I have a long-standing affinity toward 1950s aesthetics. That's why it's always pissed me off a little that, apart from a few fashion revivals and Stray Cats in the 1980s, the culture has been firmly sidelined from the mainstream for decades. Still, just because it's not front and center doesn't mean that it's not evolving. In Sweden, strange things are happening:
It's like Mad Max had a drinking competition with Grease, and everyone lost.
Raggare have been around since the 1950s, but they truly kicked into gear during the 1970s oil crisis: When America found it didn't have money to drive its giant-ass cars, many Swedes said, "Fuck yes, American stuff for cheap," and bought themselves a bunch of Buicks, Dodges, and suchlike in prime condition. The rock 'n' roll attitude arrived with the cars, and they've never stopped since. These days, raggare are a culture old enough to have subcultures of its own: the relatively mellow old-timers who tinker with their machines and arrange garage parties and drives, and the younger generation, who are feistier and, if the pictures are any indication, possess a very different attitude about their cars' appearance.
"I'm telling you, man, thatched car roofs are the next big thing."
Raggare have a look. They have a very specific thing that they do. Most importantly, they're not just a phase you grow out of. Guys from the 1970s are still in the scene and have no intention of stopping. These guys could have actual lasting power.
They're seasonal. The raggare lifestyle is all about old cars, suede shoes, and painstakingly pomade-sculptured hair, all of which go right out of the window when mother nature decides to make your region eat a faceful of winter. For the colder portion of the year, many raggare tend to go around in modern cars and season-appropriate clothes and generally give more of an upstanding citizen vibe. Today's Twitter-filled world is a hectic ol' thing, and a subculture that goes into hibernation for a few months every year might not be able to survive even a single media cycle.
I am, of course, proposing that they should mod their cars into all-weather, all-terrain attack vehicles, M.A.S.K. style.
Seapunk is a logical successor to the dominant subculture throne, in that it ticks all the right boxes: They have their own weird, house/hip-hop music, a distinct identity, and a look that sets them apart from everyone else. Also important: Said look is annoying as hell.
Aquaman's emo years were no one's proudest moment.
Even seapunk's origin story is organic, reflects our times, and (most importantly) is easily stupid enough to warrant a torrent of jokes. Someone saw a dream about a leather jacket with barnacles instead of studs and tweeted it, shit went viral -- and boom! Online joke becomes a meme, and meme becomes a subculture, complete with aesthetics that look like a tornado picked up the entire Burning Man festival and dropped it in the cartoon ocean part of Oz.
They're a fucking meme come to life! Plus, no one seems to be certain about whether this is an elaborate joke or an actual thing that exists. Suck on those irony levels, veterans of the hipster scene.
My money would be on the joke, but I think I actually have a shirt like that somewhere.
It might be too late. We live in a time where most cool new things are almost immediately appropriated by the mainstream. So, barely a year into its short life, pop stars from Rihanna to Azealia Banks were already flirting with the seapunk aesthetic, stripping it of what little underground value it had. By most accounts, the movement largely fizzled out of existence by the end of 2012, meaning that the Mayan people were right about at least one small, sad apocalypse.
Even if there is a strong seapunk scene bubbling under the streets and just waiting to explode upon us in all its aquamarine glory, there's the fact that apart from the 0.01 percent of seapunks with the looks, time, money, and eye for visuals to regularly look like a naval-themed wedding cake, pretty much every aficionado of the movement would end up looking as out of place as the left shark in Katy Perry's Superbowl performance.
FUCK YEAH LEFT SHARK, YOU SHOW THEM!
This would, of course, be totally awesome and thus severely undermine the subculture's ability to function as a hate sink.
There are plenty of working class cultures around the world that wear track suits and designer gear -- British chavs, Polish dresy, Australian bogans, and gangsta rappers, for instance. However, those are not what we're going to talk about today. Today, we're all about the gopniki. They're the Russian variation of the ghetto gangster theme and therefore, by default, 125 percent rougher around the edges and in possession of precisely none of all the fucks. If you see a weird YouTube clip about a 20-something in a cheap track suit doing an activity that makes you instantly nod and think: "Yep, Russia," chances are it's one of these guys.
Case in point.
Every once in a while, society needs its dominant subculture to be more than just a remora sticking to pop culture's underbelly. Sometimes, we need it to give us a good, hard slap on the balls and make us look in the mirror. It's been a while since we had one of those, and none of the current ones fit the old "my son/daughter is not going to go out with one of those people" bill better than the gopniki.
Also, I'm completely on board with a rerun of the Slav squat meme.
Gopniki are not known for their open-mindedness, but extremely so for their tendency to drunkenly fight anything that moves. Unless you're a terrible person, they're not going to agree with your political views too much and, on occasion, might be inclined to do their disagreeing with the soles of their Adidas instead of angry blogging.
So, while a gopnik might be a very good target for a casual "ugh, can you believe what I saw one of those fucking gopniki do today at Starbucks?" said offensive activity might involve a lot less pretentious screenplay writing with an actual typewriter and a lot more high-impact slurs and poor impulse control.
Also, I really, really don't want that goddamned slicked-forward inverted mullet hairstyle half of them seem to sport to catch on. I still haven't recovered from topknots.
Actually, yeah, let's pass these fucking guys. Besides, I have a much better candidate just around the corner ...