Chuck Klosterman is not reading the Harry Potter novels.
I find it astounding that the unifying cultural currency for modern teenagers are five-hundred-page literary works about a wizard. We are all collectively underestimating how unusual this is. Right now, there is no rock guitarist or film starlet as popular as J. K. Rowling. Over time, these novels (and whatever ideas lie within them) will come to represent the mainstream ethos of our future popular culture. Harry Potter will be the only triviality that most of that coming culture will unilaterally share.If it's the only shared thing, that means, in the future you won't get any of the references.
And I have no interest in any of it.
And I wonder how much of a problem this is going to become.
... I will not grasp the fundamental lingua franca of the 2025 hipster. I will not only be old but old for my age. I will be the pterodactyl, and I will be slain. It is only a matter of time.ADDED: The word "hipster" is vastly overused these days. Anyone with a tinge of youth and a shred of knowledge of fashion and pop culture trends seems to be a hipster — at least to people who notice they're aging and don't want to bother with the trends. Hipster — the category should be more elite. Or it seems completely absurd.
We could try to think deeply about the word "hip." For example, why aren't hipsters and hippies the same thing? What is the -ster relationship to "hip" that is different from the -ie relationship? To me, -ster seems to make you more of a knowledgeable proponent or an obsessive devotee, and -ie suggests you're having fun with it. Other -ster words that come to mind: mobster, roadster. Is a mobster's relationship to the mob and a roadster's relationship to the road the same as a hipster's relationship to hip?
Other -ie words I think of easily: foodie, groupie. See? More fun.
AND: A little musical accompaniment to this postscript: here. In the comments, Trooper York brought up The Orlons, but then he didn't quote "South Street." The first time I ever heard the word "hippie," it was in that great early 60s song. Let's check out the etymology:
During the jive era of the late 1930s and early 1940s, African-Americans began to use the term hip to mean "sophisticated, fashionable and fully up-to-date". The term hipster was coined by Harry Gibson in 1940, and was used during the 1940s and 1950s to describe jazz performers. The word evolved to describe Bohemian counterculture. Like the word hipster, the word hippie is jazz slang from the 1940s, and one of the first recorded usages of the word hippie was in a radio show on November 13, 1945, in which Stan Kenton called Harry Gibson "Hippie". This use was likely playing off Gibson's nickname, "Harry the Hipster."Nothing there about the more recent transition to "hipster," though there is a section about the pejorative use of the word "hippie." Basically, "hippie" ended up meaning not hip at all. That's certainly the way I use it (almost always in self-deprecation).
In Greenwich Village, New York City, young counterculture advocates were named hips because they were considered "in the know" or "cool", as opposed to being square. Reminiscing about late 1940s Harlem in his 1964 autobiography, Malcolm X referred to the word hippy as a term African Americans used to describe a specific type of white man who "acted more Negro than Negroes."
In a 1961 essay, Kenneth Rexroth used the term to refer to young people participating in African American or Beatnik nightlife.
In 1963, the Orlons, an African-American singing group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania released the soul dance song "South Street", which included the lyrics "Where do all the hippies meet? South Street, South Street...The hippest street in town".....
The more contemporary sense of the word "hippie" first appeared in print on September 5, 1965. In an article entitled "A New Haven for Beatniks," San Francisco journalist Michael Fallon wrote about the Blue Unicorn coffeehouse, using the term hippie to refer to the new generation of beatniks who had moved from North Beach into the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. Fallon reportedly came up with the name by condensing Norman Mailer's use of the word hipster into hippie. Use of the term hippie did not catch on in the mass media until early 1967, after San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen began referring to hippies in his daily columns.
"Beatnik" is a cool word, but I think it's solidly anchored in the 1950s... or to refer to Maynard G. Krebs, the Bob Denver character in my all-time favorite TV show "Dobie Gillis." He also did his beatnik role in a cool movie called "Surf's Up," which came out the same year as "Hard Day's Night." What a contrast between those two movies. I must confess that I saw them in a double feature at the time... and much preferred "Surf's Up." I found this hilarious:
CORRECTION: The movie title is actually "For Those Who Think Young." I went through a long period of thinking it was pathetic of me to have liked this movie more than "Hard Day's Night," but now, much as I know "Hard Day's Night" is better, I think it's perfectly acceptable to enjoy an old surf movie. Look at the cast:
James Darren ... Gardner 'Ding' Pruitt III
Pamela Tiffin ... Sandy Palmer
Paul Lynde ... Uncle Sid
Tina Louise ... Topaz McQueen
Bob Denver ... Kelp
Robert Middleton ... Burford Sanford 'Nifty' Cronin
Nancy Sinatra ... Karen Cross
POSTSCRIPT: If we called monsters "monnies," would we be less afraid?