So last weekend I was in Denver for the Associated Writing Programs annual conference. Over the past few years I've made some good friends there and met some amazing authors. Lots of good contacts, and I'm especially glad to see genre fans, who are usually sniffed at by the hoity-toity literary types who dominate this thing, finally speaking up and being proud about it. So that was good, especially the panel I moderated called "Crime, Horror, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy...Seriously", featuring Seth Harwood, Brian Evenson, Stephen Graham Jones, Tod Goldberg, and Mark Haskell Smith. All of them were impressive as hell, and several of them shared my distaste for the overwhelming stink of hipster douchebagism permeating from the conference goers.
You know what I mean. They think they're dressing "alternatively", bringing back styles ironically (like those colored leggings with the feet cut off, or ironic t-shirts, or bedhead), talking way too deeply about pop music even though they mainly listen to college bands that apparently picked up instruments for the first time last week after a spirited philosophy class. And goddamned if they aren't the snobbiest people, those who think a spirited, "Hi, how ya doing?" deserves ridicule. As for the writing part, they tend to love being writers, even though they don't write much. And when they do, it's tortured, emotional, and always in need of revision. No, strike that. That's what they say about it. The rest of us say "self-important, oh so clever, and bad".
The funny thing is that I don't think much has changed about them since I was in grad school ten years ago. An entire generation, and no new ideas? Or am I just tone deaf?
Confession time: I sometimes long to be a hipster douchebag. I still wear Converse sneakers. I had to buy the same goddamned black square plastic eyeglass frames that everyone else is wearing. I still try to keep up with the new bands, but I'm pathetic at it and usually end up downloading Greg Kihn songs and Cinderella's Greatest Hits. I look up all the hip places to hang out in Minneapolis, but I'm usually disappointed in them once I'm there (bad food, not enough food, too crowded, too loud, whatever) and I start looking around for the nearest Taco Bell and Target. My wife and I shop at Whole Foods when we're near one because it seems cooler than our usual grocery store, which is Wal Mart.
The one thing that strikes me out as a hipster douchebag: I watch a lot of TV. And not just TV on DVD. I mean actually broadcast cable with commercials and everything. Oh, the shame, right? (actually, if you're one of those who gets all sniffy and says, "I never watch TV. I don't have cable," then fuck you with a spatula.)
See, it all comes down to the fact that I'm much more comfortable sinking back into the middle class vibe I grew up in rather than trying too hard to like the things literary writers are "supposed" to like. Maybe the literary hipster douchebags aren't even aware of the musk they're radiating (although I find that hard to believe. It takes effort to look and sound like that). Maybe that's just where they are the most comfortable with themselves. It takes all kinds. And I'm really kidding these HD's a bit. I'm glad they're there, and I'm sometimes jealous of them because, let's face it, they stumble across some cool trends, music, and writers occasionally. The Hipster Douchebags' unbridled enthusiasm for life and writing (even that shitty poetry they insist on) is what keeps MFA programs alive and growing, and I think that's a good thing.
But for fuck's sake, comb your hair and admit that instead of "needing to say what is unsayble", you just do it because you want to get laid by nerds.
PS - I don't hate poetry. just shitty poetry. And there's more of that in the world than there is good poetry.
Question of the day: admit it, you are just as influenced by peer pressure in the writing community too, right?
FRIDAY BONUS VIDEO: