Category Archives: Thinking Out Loud

Hipster Olympics

I’ve been researching quite a bit about the “hipster” population as of recent, due to a new client. Has to be one of the most fascinating subcultures out there, due to the shear fact of their affect on both fashion and pop culture in such a short amount of time.

In a nutshell a ‘hipster’ is the following:

‘via Adbusters, see HIPSTER:THE DEAD END OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION, dusty haddow.

People who embrace the pseudo-artistic image and have strong attitudes and opinions toward, design, music, and urban culture. They believe in  “counter-culture” environments, artists and thinkers. They tend to be a little grungy, and spend 20% of their money on just “hanging out” at dive bars and going to music “shows.” Hipsters are always in pursuit of independent, DIY, non-commercial, and/or non profit choices in consumption in any and all aspects of lie. They highly value listening to indie rock or any form of non-mainstream music, thrift store shopping, eating organic, vegetarian, drinking local beer and/or PBR and listening to public radio.

Here is a diagram:

We have all been talking about the deadness of the culture, the emptiness of the music, the feeling that there is a lull — and the hope that it is a lull before the storm. One part of that is the lack of potency and radicalism in the ‘alternative” culture.

Let’s take our discussion not a a chance to rag on what exists, but our explorations of a subversive culture that is so desperately needed.

Take a stroll down the street in any major North American or European city and you’ll be sure to see a speckle of fashion-conscious twentysomethings hanging about and sporting a number of predictable stylistic trademarks: skinny jeans, cotton spandex leggings, fixed-gear bikes, vintage flannel, fake eyeglasses and a keffiyeh – initially sported by Jewish students and Western protesters to express solidarity with Palestinians, the keffiyeh has become a completely meaningless hipster cliché fashion accessory.

The hipster keefiyah:

In addition, the American Apparel V-neck shirt, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and Parliament cigarettes are symbols and icons of working or revolutionary classes that have been appropriated by hipsterdom and drained of meaning. Ten years ago, a man wearing a plain V-neck tee and drinking a Pabst would never be accused of being a trend-follower. But in 2008, such things have become shameless clichés of a class of individuals that seek to escape their own wealth and privilege by immersing themselves in the aesthetic of the working class.

This obsession with “street-cred” reaches its apex of absurdity as hipsters have recently and wholeheartedly adopted the fixed-gear bike as the only acceptable form of transportation – only to have brakes installed on a piece of machinery that is defined by its lack thereof.

Lovers of apathy and irony, hipsters are connected through a global network of blogs and shops that push forth a global vision of fashion-informed aesthetics. Loosely associated with some form of creative output, they attend art parties, take lo-fi pictures with analog cameras, ride their bikes to night clubs and sweat it up at nouveau disco-coke parties. The hipster tends to religiously blog about their daily exploits, usually while leafing through generation-defining magazines like Vice, Another Magazine and Wallpaper. This cursory and stylized lifestyle has made the hipster almost universally loathed.

“These hipster zombies… are the idols of the style pages, the darlings of viral marketers and the marks of predatory real-estate agents,” wrote Christian Lorentzen in a Time Out New York article entitled ‘Why the Hipster Must Die.’ “And they must be buried for cool to be reborn.”

With nothing to defend, uphold or even embrace, the idea of “hipsterdom” is left wide open for attack. And yet, it is this ironic lack of authenticity that has allowed hipsterdom to grow into a global phenomenon that is set to consume the very core of Western counterculture. Most critics make a point of attacking the hipster’s lack of individuality, but it is this stubborn obfuscation that distinguishes them from their predecessors, while allowing hipsterdom to easily blend in and mutate other social movements, sub-cultures and lifestyles.

Adbusters #79
“If you don’t give a damn, we don’t give a fuck!” chants an emcee before his incitements are abruptly cut short when the power plug is pulled and the lights snapped on.

Dawn breaks and the last of the after-after-parties begin to spill into the streets. The hipsters are falling out, rubbing their eyes and scanning the surrounding landscape for the way back from which they came. Some hop on their fixed-gear bikes, some call for cabs, while a few of us hop a fence and cut through the industrial wasteland of a nearby condo development.

The half-built condos tower above us like foreboding monoliths of our yuppie futures. I take a look at one of the girls wearing a bright pink keffiyah and carrying a Polaroid camera and think, “If only we carried rocks instead of cameras, we’d look like revolutionaries.” But instead we ignore the weapons that lie at our feet – oblivious to our own impending demise.

We are a lost generation, desperately clinging to anything that feels real, but too afraid to become it ourselves. We are a defeated generation, resigned to the hypocrisy of those before us, who once sang songs of rebellion and now sell them back to us. We are the last generation, a culmination of all previous things, destroyed by the vapidity that surrounds us. The hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture so detached and disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new.’



Critical Mass: Is there sincerity in elevating the social equality this election?

Obama GLBT Advertisment

The gay rights movement has reached a critical point in America. As a result of the upcoming presidential election, there could be a great sea change of embrace for GLBT equality or it could be another issue leveraged for electability. Gays all across America are more engaged than ever because the stakes are higher than ever. This election brings with it the possibility of greater equality for 1 in 10 (31 million) Americans.
Some of the critical issues to be considered include:

The next President could sign into law, instead of veto, Hate Crimes Legislation and Employment Non Discrimination legislation.

  • He/she could ensure that all Americans can protect our country, independently of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
  • The next President can lead Congress into repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
  • The next president is likely to choose one or more Supreme Court Justices. The Supreme Court may eventually revisit the right to privacy, which is the basis of Roe v Wade as well as Lawrence v Texas, the landmark 2003 decision that decriminalized private sexual acts between consenting adults. Also, eventually the Supreme Court may be called to decide on whether other states need to recognize valid marriages performed in other states, such as Massachusetts.

As the democratic race is down to the wire between Obama and Clinton, special attention is being paid to the “pink vote.” While I appreciate that presidential candidates are finally truly addressing such an important community, I realize the potential for exploitation as these issues are a significant point of difference among candidates and parties. The concern is that the amount of leverage candidates are receiving from their support of GLBT issues may not be delivered upon come next November.

Senator Obama just bought significant media in Ohio and Texas targeting the GLBT community (see attached ad). These ad coincide with a significant PR push, such interviewing with The Advocate and releasing an “Open Letter from Barack Obama to the GLBT Community”, is intended to pull his ticket through to get the Democratic nomination. On one side, these efforts are a proof of how far the gay rights movement has come given that a serious presidential candidate, like Obama, is addressing issues such as gay marriage, equal rights, don’t ask don’t tell, and support for hate crime laws. This support is music to the GLBT community’s ears but I’m becoming more afraid in these critical times candidates might be gussying up a bit much for those last few primaries.

The problem lies in the disparity from what Senator Obama says and what is/might actually delivered. Its revealing that Obama has spent thousands getting on the back cover of The Advocate and other prime ad space in GLBT media in recent weeks.

Last summer Barack made a faux pas during a debate when he noted that he and his wife were both tested for the HIV virus. The media interpreted his comments as rather homophobic and denigrating to individuals infected with AIDS.
Again last year Obama slipped again when he allowed a “reformed heterosexual” entertainer who touts being ‘saved from homosexuality’ to join his political campaign tours. The beginning of this year Barack received the endorsement of a powerful Reverend whose church provided training on how to “gain freedom from homosexuality and other sins.” Obama also reportedly refused to take pictures with San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom when the gay marriage controversy was in full force.

These incidences may only seem like minor infractions of a large scale presidential campaign. But to me they speak volumes about the nature of support for the GLBT community. I truly believe that genuine passion for gay rights would not result in such disrespectful situations. A true advocate would not let these things slip by. A desperate candidate trying to gain the nomination….is more likely.

What do you think?

Perez Hilton and politics

Can this gossip hound mobilize the elusive younger female vote? 

perez hilton


Will the Perez Hilton endorsement have more clout than the Kennedy’s in 2012?

Over 7 million people hit his website everyday. is the world’s most notorious gossip blog and website. Perez gives hourly updates on the latest insider news of the rich and famous. He uses his blog to vent, scrawl nasty, snarky comments on pictures of young Hollywood-type celebrities – Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Justin Timberlake – and paint suspicious-looking white dots around their pictures (and for whatever reason millions of people flock to the site daily to get the latest scoop).

But Perez has been surprisingly level-headed and passionate about something other than gossip this year. He has chosen to diversify his blog by frequently posting on the 2008 presidential election. Perez has blogged about politics at least three times a week since early November. Each post has garnished, on average, more commentary from site-surfers than his rants on the latest Britney Spears saga.

Why has the king of gossip suddenly decided to realign his internet clout to something of more….substance? It seems he has a personal interest vested in this election and believes that he has some influence on his readers. “For me this election is very important and I just wanted to encourage my readers, who are predominately young and predominately female, to go out and vote,” Perez noted in a candid interview.

“Celebrity” endorsements are nothing new. In fact, they have become more important each election cycle as the power of popular culture and mainstream media has expanded exponentially over the past few decades. It has been found that such celebrity endorsements are most influential among youth voters. According to a recent study 40 percent of 18-24s are influenced by celebrity endorsements. This compared to 59 percent of adults who strongly disagree that their voting preference will be influenced by celebrities. It is estimated that such endorsements account for an increase of about 2 percent in voter turnout (which is huge).

Now Perez Hilton isn’t exactly a “celebrity,” but these findings coupled with media trends among youth may have unexpected influence on a great legion of desirable American voters. The 2008 race has already been dubbed the “digital election.” Its been found that web is much more influential, than any other medium, to the under-30 voters. If we consider both the supposed power of celebrity endorsements and the internet as influential medium there might just be some depth to Mr. Perez Hilton and his political rants.

About a month ago Perez endorsed Senator Clinton, and he did it with one seemingly informal blog post:

“Not that our opinion matters (any more than yours). Nor do we expect that we will influence your vote in any way, but… Today is Super Tuesday and we feel it is our duty to publicly endorse Hillary Clinton… Hillary wasn’t our fist choice. We were initially swayed by the promise of change and the inspiring messages of Barack Obama. But that’s not enough! After careful consideration and much research, we have come to the informed decision that Hillary is the right candidate for us. We feel more confident with Hillary’s abilities to lead and her proven track record of experience. But, more so than that, HER plans for universal healthcare, education reform and emphasis on equality for all are more aligned with what we want in the next President. Whether you agree with us or not, please go out and vote today.”
– via

Did Perez really expect that his endorsement would not influence any voters, or was he just being modest?

Two days after his endorsement, Senator Clinton overwhelmingly won the California primary. Hillary did get both of those votes. In fact young females came out in record numbers for the primary. Could this be a coincidence that directly corresponds with  core audience of
Coincidence or not, his site attracts some very viable potential voters. His core readers, as I noted before, are predominately young and predominantly female. These are individuals who do not watch CNN, the local news, or even think about reading a political article in a newspaper.  They are online several hours a day but never think of logging on to a candidates’ site. These readers are interested in what graces the pages of People Magazine, not the Economist. They haven’t been paying attention to politics their entire adult life and have not been confronted or directly spoken to about politics…until now.

Slapped in between posts about Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, and Paula Abdul is a surprising rant on last nights Democratic debates, or the Iowa primaries. And what’s even more interesting is that these gossip followers are actually paying attention. The amount of dialogue that one Perez Hilton post on Hillary Clinton receives is quite remarkable. Within seconds of a post, hundreds of readers are already engaging in political conversation that any candidate would gladly pay good campaign money to receive.

His core audience actively engages in robust debate right there on a blog for all the world to see. These people are finally being talked to about politics in a way that they actually feel comfortable engaging in. They are learning about candidates, seeing video clips, and reading interview excerpts that the rest of the nation receives from a credible news source. The truth is this may seemingly be one of the only ways to reach them. It’s not intrusive. In fact they choose not to gloss over political posts, but engage in them.

I’m no political analyst, but I’m willing to put money on the fact that Perez Hilton, the least likely “columnist” of all, is making a huge section of non-voting, apathetic Americans think about the current political situation. They are now getting a customized daily dish of politics (served with a side of gossip and senseless humor, of course).

At the end of the day is not important who Perez is pulling for. More importantly is how he did it, who it influenced, and how it could possibly mobilize an entire legion of voters to the polls. The true test is whether or not these young, gossip-fiend potentials will actually show up to vote this November. If so, Perez might be a highly sought after endorsment in 2012… if blogs aren’t extinct by then.



Whether or not you like the campaign, got me thinking that, despite how much quirky characters can win attention from the masses, it can be a dangerous trap to fall into. Seeing it as an end (ie creating a TV show just because people “like” your characters) and not a means to an end. Attention is great, but if it doesn’t translate into results, all is lost.

I haven’t seen the show yet, so I’m talking out of turn, but here are two thoughts…

Seems to me that the show is about the characters and not Geico. I’m frightened by the prospect of Geico being written into the plotline, so I’ll assume it won’t be (unless Geico ads claiming “…so easy a Caveman could do it” are woven throughout as a way of setting off the characters — which is the only way the brand made it into the body of the spots).

This makes me wonder if Geico is paying for anything more than spot inventory and a cross-your-fingers brand association, or if they’re even paying at all? Maybe they own the Caveman characters (along with Martin) and they’re GETTING paid. Wouldn’t THAT be modern.

Secondly, Geico is able to make this move with one of their campaigns because they have so many campaigns running concurrently. If Cavemen was their only bit and it was highly popular and they risked all of it by turning the whole thing into a potentially-sucky TV show, then that would be a big risk.

But Geico has at least three other campaigns going, so they could culturally afford to break this one off. I’ve always been intrigued by their choice of offering so many different brand “voices” at one time.

Personally, I’d prefer a show about the Gecko.

Green + Green = Red?

Attended the Green Conference in Washington D.C. Saturday with B Brown. We drove up early that morning and returned before sundown (Don Just beckoned).

Very interesting compilation of green capitalism. Its funny how so many of the attendees and participants are so passionate about socialist causes and are, in many respects, anti-capitalistic. But there we were, driving our cars and consuming and advertising and marketing and promoting. Ironic.

Did we just create our own capitalistic model. adaptive or hypocritical?

The other irony was the volume of literature and paper distributed. Each booth had tons of literature (booklets, magazines, brochures, etc.) Each communication should have been driven to the web. Give passer-bys a 100% recycled business card with the business website. End of story. Why are there even “green” centric magazines? If we were really green-minded we would disseminate all information on the web. Right?

I don’t want black hat the whole event. Just seeing the “green” trend unfold infront of my eyes was pretty incredible. And a testiment to the power of popular culture and tribal communication. Its my guess that half of the attendees were there just to jump on the bandwagon. Because regular 60 watt bulbs are so last year. Where are my LEDs?