Irony is a Beard | Todcast

A new feature on the Todcast, “The Big Picture” is our newest foray into multi-media — an essay to accompany the Todcast. Comment below or #Todcast.
For the last 8 months or so, I’ve been struggling with the urge to grow a mustache. I’m too testosterone-poor to grow a beard and not bald enough to wear a combination mustache and goatee.{{1}}[[1]] Spanish speakers call it the padlock (candado) so that’s what I’ll go with in future references.[[1]] I sported a goatee for some time but, frankly, the maintenance was too much and I always whittled it down to what amounted to an upside down hair horn on the bottom of my face.

Recently I’ve noticed men of a certain age (40ish) starting to wear mustaches. From this observation I’ve reached the logical conclusion that the age of dressing ironically has come to an end and will take the hipsters with it.
And thank god.
Once people in their 40s are onto something, it is by definition culturally dead but lacks the sense to lie down. There are several reasons hipster-ness is dying and all of them are excellent. The most obvious is that it’s just its time. Hipsters, like twins, skip a generation and this generation’s crop is riding the wave into ridiculous in the literal sense; they’re approaching or inhabiting their 30s and ripe to become targets of ridicule for the next generation. They are moving into the “old-but-still-trying-to-look-cool” mode of life according to the upcoming generation’s mavens.
Welcome to the world, hipsters, 25 is awesome, but 30 will fucking kill you.
Bot don’t be confused, hipsterness doesn’t have to die in a Logan’s Run kind of way. Hipsterism could live forever if it were a viable way of being. Unfortunately, it is not. And this is what makes it a cycle of fashion rather than one of culture. It also makes it a mind-blowing infinite regression, tortoiseshells all the way town if you will.{{2}}[[2]]You won’t and you shouldn’t, that was an awful pun[[2]]
The trope of hipsters is they are forward-looking, future-living directors of culture. Just as it was no great surprise when the Psychic Friends Network went unexpectedly bankrupt, it is a great irony when self-styled cultural leaders don’t see the the difference between living out the fad and creating it.{{3}}[[3]]Irony #1, the “Are-you-new-here-I-got-here-first” irony.[[3]]
The notion of style is a critical one. Hipsters and their evil twins, the punks (who must surely be on the rise somewhere by now) {{4}}[[4]]See also, Sons of Anarchy.[[4]] are, by definition, victims of the anarchy club myth. They look to be a part of a group of people distinguished by the quest to be different. “True” hipsters will tell you that people who dress like hipsters to be cool miss the point.{{5}}[[5]]Irony #2, the “I-make-the-rules-about-rulelessness” irony.[[5]]
Let’s be clear. It takes courage to wear interesting hats and bizarre facial hair and gender-bending clothes for real. It takes none whatsoever to wear those very same things ironically.
There is no way to tell whether someone is wearing a ridiculous outfit because they have no fashion sense, are so avant-garde they’re unintelligible or are being ironic about it. Hipsters are essentially a group of people hiding in the valley between the inane and the visionary. They are, to borrow a line from The Sting, cleaning up on a race that’s already been run.{{6}}[[6]]Irony #3, the I’m-an-original-emulator” irony.[[6]]
It is this final irony that kind of explodes the hipster myth rather than an attack from the outside. The final irony is there is nothing more mundane than spending one’s early adulthood as a hipster. There is nothing more cliche. And pretending to be in on that realization is an integral part of not getting it at all.
Hiding behind a false sense of understanding rather than be revealed as clueless is the primary job of newly-minted adults. Pretending you’re outside of the culture is one of the most critical aspects of being a part of it. {{7}}[[7]]Irony #4, the “nicheless niche” irony.[[7]]
Emerging from their young adult cocoon, hipsters will have to begin looking for new cliche groups to be part of. May I suggest the “Jerk” class?
I am a total jerk and find it rewarding and enjoyable. Jerkiness never goes out of style, because someone always needs to be the jerk; to make wild and quasi-accurate generalizations and to be sometimes mistaken and other times spectacularly wrong. Moreover, jerks get to continue to play at being outsiders when they’re really just incapable of being insiders.
It might be a tough transition, though, as I and my brother and sister jerks are from punk stock.{{8}}[[8]] The more aggressive wing of pretend originality.[[8]] Hipsters aren’t really very good at being jerks. In general terms, their irony is a shield rather than a weapon. The equivalent of putting “jk” at the end of every controversial sentence for fear of having to defend themselves.
And that, in the end, is why hipsters have to go away. It’s great to pretend to stand for or against things for awhile, but eventually you have to get your life to a place where, ironically, you have to stand for something.