Like they do with all trends a few years after they die out, conservatives have discovered hipster-bashing. But as, as epitomized by things like Christian rock and that embarrassing attempt to rip off The Daily Show, the right’s attempts to embrace certain trends always feel “off” because they can’t quite ever figure out how to pull it off. Today at Alternet, I have a piece about Charles Cooke’s jealous sniping about liberal nerds like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Rachel Maddow, who he levels the—no joke—“fake geek girl” accusation at, because acknowledging that they’re actually pretty nerdy people would undermine his claim that they’re cool kid overlords oppressing Real Americans©. It’s a strange piece that tries to imply that conservatives are the Only True Nerds, which yeah. Anyway, my Alternet piece is an analysis on why this shiny new version of the usual coastal “elite”-bashing is a political con job being pulled on the audience.
But I have a little more to say about Cooke’s transparent attempts to try to redefine nerdy pundits and scientists as “hipsters” so that his portrayal of them as sneering elitist overlords makes a smooch more sense than trying to convince his dim-witted audience that nerds are out to get them. Believe me, to make it work, he strains the word “hipster” well past the breaking point until it shatters into a thousand pieces. As someone who has Known Hipster Tendencies and who, despite what any snarky tweets from Cooke to the contrary might say, does not actually hold herself out as a nerd(because, you know, I don’t actually think you need to be a nerd to be smart), I am troubled by Cooke’s attempt to baffle his audience with bullshit. So, as a public service, I thought I’d put together a visual essay to help confused conservatives tell the difference between the nerdy pundits that Cooke swears are hipsters and actual, you know, hipsters. All these pundits and scientists and journalists and whatnot mentioned here stand accused of being hipsters by Cooke.
Here is Neil deGrasse Tyson, accused of being a hipster. Please pay special attention to the fact that he’s wearing the corniest vest I think I’ve ever seen:
Here is David Macklovitch of Chromeo, who is an actual hipster:
Here is Rachel Maddow, accused hipster:
Here is Kickball Katy from La Sera, actual hipster:
Here is Paul Krugman, accused hipster:
Here is Tunde Adebimpe from TV on the Radio and actual hipster:
Here is Richard Dawkins, accused hipster:
Here is Joey Ramone, an OG of actual hipsters, with a cat:
Here is Melissa Harris-Perry, accused hipster:
Here is Solange Knowles, sister of Beyoncé, and actual hipster:
Granted, Cooke was claiming that the people he accused of being hipsters are merely secret hipsters, and their nerdy demeanors are merely nerd drag. And it is true, nerds and hipsters do have some sartorial habits in common, like eyeglasses. (Which are actually something you need to see, but you know.) But the truth of the matter is that there are strong, noticeable aesthetic differences, differences that cannot actually be faked as easily as Cooke would have his audience believe. After you see these pictures, can you really think Rachel Maddow is secretly more comfortable dressing like Debbie Harry?
No, that is dumb. Being a hipster is a fine thing to be and being a nerd is a fine thing to be. This isn’t a contest. But I think we can safely say the best explanation for all these celebrity nerds out there is that they just are who they say they are, old-fashioned nerds whose talents have brought success.