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You Read This Article Before It Was Cool

Published August 15, 2012

In the last issue of Grapevine, self-identified hipster Atli Bollason recounts in his article, “Confessions of a Hipster,” his discovery of hipsterdom and then defends hipsters everywhere. I agree entirely that bickering and in-fighting between different social groups is incredibly immature behaviour reminiscent of high school, and that hipster hate in particular has grown tiresome—if for no other reason than the word “hipster” itself has been thrown around so much that it has lost nearly all meaning. But hipster does have a definition, and Atli is quite fortunately wrong about both what being a hipster means and why people don’t like them.
Atli cites ‘The Hipster Handbook’ by Robert Lanham as his basis for what defines a hipster. Although Atli admits that the book was “meant to poke fun at hipsters,” he seems to have missed the point of hipsterism. Hipsters are not just people who like art films, or obscure bands on vinyl, or are vegetarians—these are all fine, wonderful things that many, many people enjoy. Rather, hipsters are defined by a kind of sneering elitism for enjoying these things; that their particular tastes set them apart from the common rabble. Rather than taking part in a particular lifestyle or engaging in and with certain forms of artistic expression for their societal benefit or just for their own sake, hipsters take part in these things as a sort of badge of superiority. It is this distinction that defines what a hipster is.
And this is why people dislike hipsters. Art is meant to be enjoyed by and be of benefit to everyone. Liking certain forms of art does not make you a better person than someone else, yet it is precisely this attitude that is synonymous with hipstertude, and is what people take issue with. It is not, in other words, enjoying obscure art and lifestyles that makes someone a hipster or causes people to dislike them; it’s pouring scorn and ridicule over anyone who does not.
I agree that hipster hate has unfortunately made it so practically anyone who likes the things hipsters are known for liking gets called a hipster—an unfair appellation that is not without its own elitism. This is why I think it’s too bad that Atli has seemed to fall for the semantic trap of believing that anyone who likes these things is a hipster.
I said earlier that it was fortunate Atli got it wrong, and I mean that. Atli strikes me as a sincere appreciator of the arts who does not consider himself better than anyone else for liking the things that he does. In other words, he isn’t a hipster. He’s just a really cool guy.


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So What’s This Faroese Ship I Keep Hearing About?

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The Faroese trawler ‘Næraberg’ was fishing for mackerel in Greenlandic waters when its engine suffered a malfunction. As the Icelandic Coast Guard was best situated to help, it sent a plane out to the trawler with spare engine parts, which it dropped in a parachute. The Faroese crew retrieved them in a dinghy and went to work repairing the engine. Another lovely story of cooperation in the North Atlantic Ocean, where hard men with soft hearts help each other survive. After the attempted repairs, the engine could only produce a fraction of normal power. The ship set course for Iceland.

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Nuke The Middle-East, Give Up On Iceland

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Today, Monday, Professor Hannes Hólmsteinn Gissurarson, the Icelandic neoliberal experiment’s chief ideologue since the late 1970’s, recommends that the Icelandic right wing draw a lesson from the Swedish election results, as well as the rise of Britain’s UKIP, and uphold stronger xenophobic policies: “struggle against immigration and sever the ties to the EU”. Teacher, journalist and right-wing pundit Páll Vilhjálmsson wrote a blog post titled ‘Nuclear bombs are Christian‘ suggesting that the West nuke parts of the Middle-East to teach its inhabitants a lesson. “The rise in militant muslims in this part of the world will sooner rather than later

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So What’s This Hazing I Keep Hearing About?

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Like young people the world over, Icelandic youths like to humiliate younger kids for fun. This behaviour takes many forms, but the one that has been in the news lately is secondary school hazing. In Iceland, primary school ends at sixteen and almost everyone starts secondary school the following autumn, although a secondary education is not compulsory. Traditionally, new students are hazed by students in the fourth and final year, with each school having their own set of rituals. Yes, if humiliation and endangerment is a tradition, then it’s okay. These hazing rituals are generally harmless. New students are made

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More People = More Fun

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To generalise: Icelanders are a greedy bunch. After we escaped from the claws of Danish colonialist rule, the national imperative has been to make as much money as possible. You can say money makes Iceland turn, even though the Mickey Mouse money we call “the Icelandic króna” hardly qualifies as a currency. I guess we’re no different than any other Western country then. Savvy Icelanders have always been adept at finding their golden eggs. First, the nation got rich by working for the UK and US militaries who looked after us through the Second World War. You could say that

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This Is Not A Media Blackout!

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You wouldn’t call it a media blackout, I guess. Because that would be hard to prove, and if you can’t prove it, someone might sue you. Newspapers have been changing hands, however, and a lot of private interest seems to be involved. All of Gaul is occupied by the Romans First, the backstory: a short overview of Icelandophone news media currently in print. For the sake of relative brevity, I will keep the weeklies out of this picture. Limiting our scope to media published more-frequently-than-weekly, or would-be-dailies, leaves us with three newspapers. Daily paper Morgunblaðið is owned by fishing industry

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Our Own Worst Enemy

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Greetings, readers! It’s time for another classic edition of “Someone Who Came Here As A Tourist Before Moving Here Tells You How You Should Really Be Running The Country!” Continuing this month’s theme: tourism! You know what I think this country needs? More fences! And gates, with security guards and ticket takers around every beautiful natural site. And access passes! And pay toilets. And an army of inspectors rifling through tourists’ backpacks looking for hidden candy bars and measuring their cars’ petrol levels to make sure they’ll be buying enough while they’re here. And also, I’m an idiot! You may

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