A Litmus Test: Sports bars, traditional art, daytime dates, going out tops, clean sneakers, biceps, apparent hair product, cleaning products, physical contact , Starbucks, Ed Hardy, full-time jobs, when people question your dubious life choices—do you hate this stuff?
All of the above are entries on Stuff Hipsters Hate, a blog started in July 2009 by Andrea Bartz, 23 and Brenna Ehrlich, 25, graduates from the journalism program at Northwestern who had moved to New York to pursue editorial careers (Bartz is an editor at Self and lives in Spanish Harlem; Ehrlich is at Mashable and lives in Greenpoint), and would often email each other about their misadventures in Brooklyn and the woes of dating Williamsburg hipsters. The two decided to start a humor blog, poking fun at the extremes and stereotypes of the hipster counterculture that they were engaging and often included in.
“We had been talking about starting a blog because we thought it would be fun but we didn’t really know what it would be about,” Ehrlich said. “ One day we were emailing back and forth and I had just gone out with this guy who hated everything. He hated birthdays, he hated concerts, he hated hugging. I was emailing Andi explaining this whole thing and I was like ‘this is a new kind of hipster.’ There’s a continuum, and this is the guy who hates everything.
“Jokingly I said we should start a blog about that, about how hipsters just hate on things to be cool,” Bartz continued. “Three minutes pass and I get an email back from Brenna with a tumblr login and a note: It is done.”
It’s become a lot more than a joke. Last Saturday, they threw a party at Glasslands in Williamsburg to celebrate their recently announced book deal: hipsterdom is set to be printed, bound, and published this Fall (Ulysses Press).
The blog started gaining traction after it was linked in the comment threads of some articles about hipster culture. Soon after, they were offered a weekly guest blog on Heeb, and then one of Buzzfeed’s editors picked it as favorite. Gawker linked them over the summer, and suddenly the site went from getting a few thousand to sixty thousand hits. Soon after, Bartz and Ehrlich were approached by an agent and interested publishers.
“Hipster” is a contentious word—adbusters.com ran an article declaring hipsters “the dead end of western civilization,” and Bartz and Ehrlich maintain that no one would ever identify themselves as one.
“It is a contentious label and it’s become a defamatory word, which is funny,” Ehrlich said. “In general, we have nothing against the people of this neighborhood. I’m someone who lives in this neighborhood and frequents it. People could identify us as being hipsters easily. But the label is the funny thing, and that’s kind of what we’re making fun of, too—the idea, that you can just put a label on an entire group of people.
“People always ask us—are you hipsters who are making fun of pop culture, or are you pop culture making fun of hipsters? We’re neither,” she continued. “We’re just making fun of this idea and this concept.”
Hipsters are generally stereotyped as privileged twenty-somethings, whose Mecca is Williamsburg. They’re usually characterized by (and ridiculed for) their apparel and style (flannel, skinny jeans, absurd sunglasses, American Apparel contraptions—Bartz and Ehrlich might be better at this part), and their general air of pretention and disinterest—oh the ennui, the urban malaise.
It’s this characterization that Bartz and Ehrlich have honed in on with their blog, which alternates between anthropological-style entries, entries from the point of view of a hipster, and fictional dialogue between hipsters. One might think that hipsters would be offended, but the popularity of the duo’s blog is a testament to the fact that the bloggers are simultaneously accurate and kidding, two things that hipsters can appreciate. Besides, anybody who really did embody all the entries on the site wouldn’t be a hipster: he (or she) would be a jerk.
“A lot of friends who you could argue identify very strongly with the subculture would never call themselves hipsters,” Bartz said. “They like the blog and think it’s hilarious because they’re in on the joke. It’s not mocking hipsters from the outside. It wouldn’t be funny if it weren’t true and instantly identifiable. Anyone with a sense of humor sees that it’s hilarious that they see themselves in it.”
“I feel like what we’re doing is so much more nuanced that it’s ultimately less insulting,” Bartz continued. “If you’re only shtick is putting other things down in order to feel better then yeah, you’re a little bit of a waste of space. In an extreme way, that’s what we’re making fun of. But I don’t think that matches or sums up all the people in this neighborhood or all the people who could be identified as hipsters by any means. I don’t think they’re all apathetic. I would hate it if I were actually surrounded by people who were horrible empty, hateful, spiteful people. We’re making fun of a stereotype.”
“There’s a lot of creativity that comes out of this neighborhood,” Ehrlich added. “Most of the bands right now are from Brooklyn. There are a lot of extremely talented artists and writers and people who are doing things. So a certain extent, people who say that Williamsburg is a bunch of trust fund babies who are wasting their parents’ money—there are those people, but I think it’s really unfair to say that it’s just this den of laissez-faire nothingness. I mean, if they were really that bad I wouldn’t live here.”
Stuff Hipsters Hate started out as an anonymous blog, but Bartz and Ehrlich decided to out themselves in November, after getting several accusations of being a balding, bitter man. Readers were surprised when two sweet girls were revealed instead.
“It was actually really satisfying to come out because we got so many responses from women telling us it was awesome that we are funny and girls,” Bartz said. It seems like there’s a stereotype that women humor is not sarcastic, that it doesn’t have that sort of biting edge and it’s more shrill or self deprecating.”
“I don’t know what it is. It’s a problem that personally I’ve been thinking about a lot in terms of writing,” Ehrlich added. “You can write in a male voice or a female voice, and people tend to think that male voices are funnier for some reason. It’s not hat we intentionally write like guys, it’s just the way that we ended up writing to each other.”
Decide for yourself: visit stuffhipstershate.tumblr.com.