Questions that have been rolling around in my head since the end of the American Spring Television Season*: Why
do mass media cater to hipsters, and treat geeks as second-class citizens, especially in entertainment (my working definitions of those two terms, for those who missed 'em
)? And is the Hipster class, in part, created
by mass media?
My thought -- and I admit this may be nothing more than "pretty to think so" -- is that yes, mass media, and particularly television, help to craft the hipster class, and that's why they cater to them -- as a sort of domesticated consumer pet. But here's why I think that:
Both Geeks and Hipsters value the intellect, and eschew the popular trends of the culture. However, hipsters have an active scorn
for popular culture as "beneath them" (Judging by the hipster-written definitions of "hipster" at UrbanDictionary.com, anyway). And geeks don't care much for popular culture simply because they're so engrossed by their own favorite things to notice
what's popular and what's not.
And that's why I think media, and in particular, television, promotes the hipster class: They need a class of young, stylish, people who see themselves as the avant-garde so they can sell their eyeballs to advertisers, to be "early adopters" for a continual stream of new things to buy. So intellectual curiousity is valued -- the media and the marketplace need at least some people who are not afraid of new ideas. Both Geeks and hipsters have that curiosity.
What sets hipsters apart
from geeks (and why the television industry loves them) is that scorn. Because as soon as something goes from being avant garde to popular, you need to have people who declare it "Soo last year (month, week, yesterday)!" The problem with geeks is: they fall in love with something, and they tend to stay
in love it. They might, indeed, be young men between the ages of 18 and 34, but their trend-setting habits align them more with the 50-year olds.
Think of the most common jokes (in television sitcoms and romcom movies, particularly) mocking the geek for geek stereotypes: a man in his 30s or 40s who still
has his Star Wars
action figures from when he was 12.
That's why I think of CBS's The Big Bang Theory
as a hipster show masquerading as a 'geek pride' show. Yes, all the four male leads are framed as highly intellectual, geeky, scientists... But all the laugh lines basically boil down to: "oh, my god! How ridiculously geeky is that?!"
And the one male lead who is paired with the only
female lead** (who happens to be blonde and thin, and speaks with a piping girl voice, and is framed by the narrative as "The object of desire"), is the one who rolls his eyes at the others.
...Either that, or I'm still judging the show for that one line in its theme song: "The autotrophs began to drool." I mean, if that's not geek-science-biology fail, I don't know what is!*** It's like someone just scanned the Internet for cool sounding science words, and put them together into a song, without caring
if it makes any sense or not. And it's that aloof not-caring that flagged the show as 'hipster,' to me.
I was going to go on, and write further about geekery and disability. But this has taken up too much space-time already.
*Summer, in American television, is when the regular primetime shows go into hiatus and/or reruns, and stations bring out all their "reality" programs to fill the airwaves -- like Fear Factor
, Big Brother
, and the like, and I find myself scrambling to do anything but
watch television. So, since I'm not watching ... not caught up wondering what will happen in the next episode ... I find myself reflecting on the season just past. So, specifically, this question popped into my head at the end of Chuck
, which, I think, is quintescentially "Geek vs. Hipster"
**Oh, how TBBT fails at the Bechdel test, let me count the ways ... eh... never mind.
*** "Auto" means 'self' "Troph" means 'food.' So Autotrophs are .... plants
. And I've never seen a drooling geranium. Have you?