Topic: ArtDance

Last updated: March 24, 2019

The hipster sub-culture that emerged in the 1940s is known to have been created within the African American jazz culture, however it is imperative to understand that the 1990s hipster revival is a case of cultural appropriation of the African American culture and somewhat exclusionary of the original demographic of this movement. With the mainstream of the African-American society positioned in the Southern states of America as a consequence of the pre-world war 2 slavery, jazz music quickly evolved and became the new music scene of the black societies. With the growing success of swing, a small group of jazz enthusiasts, who believed that jazz was escaping its original artistic style and changing into a mainstream music product, created a new genre of jazz and called it bebop due to its frequently unexpected endings in the rhythm. As a result of its immediate lack of success, the bebop musician became enclosed and independent and tried to become distant from the public. This behaviour and attitude lead way for a new kind of people and they were given the name the hipsters.

The hipsters excreted themselves from the rest of society through their language, dress, environment and behaviour. As opposed to the distinctive tuxedo swing musicians wore, the hipster dressed in wing-collar shirts, suits and berets. George Reisner describes in his book; Bird: The legend of Charlie Parker, the hipster as “amoral and over civilized to a point of self-indulgence and always ten steps ahead of the rest”. By the end of the 1940s and the 1950s the hipster philosophy had extended to the wider audience and was becoming more visible in cinematography, art and foremost literature with the rise of the beat generation. Central elements of Beat culture are rejection of standard narrative values, making spiritual quest, exploration of American and Eastern religions, rejection of materialism, , experimentation with psychedelic drugs, and sexual liberation and exploration.The 1990s were in numerous ways different from previous eras.

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Even though numerous subcultures occurred in the 1990s, none of them seemed to become a youth revolt that had been shaped by the previous decades. The youth had already fought for what there was to fight for, causing them to pursue individuality over the collective community, taking elements from the mainstream culture and mixing it with independent subcultures, as opposed to previous decades, when certain styles and ways of living had characterised the youth. Like the 1940s hipster, today’s hipster favour authenticity, which might be brought on by the influence of the media and their role played in the 1990’s and today’s society. This description is the complete opposite of a hipster’s idea and has most likely created a reaction from some people. In 1996, Allen Ginsberg suggested why public readings once again became popular like they were back in the 1950’s among the hipsters. He believed that people needed to hear themselves talk instead of possibly being misinterpreted by the media. “The language that is used in the medias, is not the language people talk.

Lyrics on the other hand, is the ultimate form of personal communication”. Popular music in the 1990s saw the continuation of teen pop and dance-pop trends which had emerged in the 1970s and 1980s. Furthermore, hip hop grew and continued to be highly successful in the decade, with the continuation of the genre’s golden age.During 1957, Norman Mailer, an author sympathetic to the Beats and linked to other alienations writers, wrote an article called “The White Negro.

” This article labelled the original hipsters as being marginalized African-Americans who were typically jazz musicians and often lived a unconventional and sometimes violent lifestyle. They were promiscuous, smoked marijuana and spoke foreign languages. These Black hipsters were continuously in fear of arrest or death, usually at the hands of white supremacists. Mailer explains how the Beat poets tried to emulate that impediment, free lifestyle, “spirit,” and attitude of the 1930 and 1940s Black jazz musician. Blacks in general seemed to live more authentic lives in the face of instability and constant danger of being framed and imprisoned or killed by racists.

This paralleled the chaotic world that the Beats felt they lived in. They feared sudden death by the bomb, or worse, the slow demise through conformity. This propelled their quest to seek as many experiences as life had available and then write about them. So, in effect, the Beats who emulated Black hipsters became the white version, or the “white negro.”


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