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Monday, December 12, 2011

Why I Love Underground Anything

I've been struggling with a long time with the idea that I might be what is collectively known as a "hipster". I don't dress the dress, walk the walk, or speak the jargon but I am definitely a triumphant trumpeter of the unknown and therefore "untainted". And I've been called a hipster for that. And I consider it an insult. Which results in me fighting and arguing and attempting to distinguish myself from a group of people that I consider so ultimately shallow that they are worst than their mainstream counterparts. Because they treat music and art as a commodity and a fashion statement they do more to undermine real musical and artistic statements because that is the most commercial statement that I could possibly imagine.

But I can't bring myself to not be a little disappointed when something I like becomes commercially successful.

And I'm slowly beginning to realize that I'm okay with that. Because it's not that I'm instantly repulsed by something that's popular, and I consider every other person on the planet some kind of knuckle dragging moron. The simple reason is that when something is underground and virtually unknown, it's intensely personal to me. I noticed this first when I thought about video games. For a long time video games weren't really a mainstream thing, at least not good video games that weren't subtitled with the year and had some random idiot jock's face on the cover. And because of that I felt some sort of intimate bond with it. I can recall playing games and listening to their soundtracks and feeling like nobody in the world had experienced it, that this was a direct conversation I was having with the game developer while simultaneously getting lost in the experience. I found myself immersed in a world where honor and chivalry are redeemable qualities and don't just get you bent over a table. I felt the same way about books, pictures, and music.

And then the tide changed. And underground music started to become popular, and video games started to break societal prejudices and gain mainstream standing. And I couldn't help but feel a little bit put out. It was as though my best friend had suddenly started spending a bunch of time with people I knew nothing about and couldn't relate with, because unlike small underground communities who had played all of the same games, or listened to all the same music, or read all the same books as you had, these people weren't rife with shared experiences. It hurt, a lot too. Because all of a sudden that conversation you'd had with the artist who'd created a piece that you'd love was being drowned out by a whole bunch of voices that were trying to have the same conversation and all of a sudden you were forced to face the undeniable evidence that you weren't the only person in the world having this experience, there were literally thousands (in some cases millions) of others who had just as profound an experience with it that you did and that you weren't special and you didn't understand whatever it was on some deep intimate level, that you were just another person who came across some art and consumed it like everyone else.

And it sucked.

1 comment:

  1. I don't take hipster to be an insult anymore. I think it's just another way for corporate zombies to make you feel bad for doing your own thing.

    So just keep it up.


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