Love-hate Labels

5 Apr

Nath has plenty to say about hipsters. Most of it is does not really make use of his otherwise extensive vocabulary,  nor is it really suitable for general audiences. Which is strange, considering how ridiculously pretentious I can appear. This post spurred some more thought on the subject – I am sick in bed, Nath is painting his little guys, so I am left with nothing better to do than ruminate for an audience!

After describing the music and literature that drives him, David says this: “I fully accept and admit my pretentiousness, because if I don’t, my bookshelf will pretty much scream it at you if you ever visit my house.”

I suppose I have to disagree, in a rather long and boring post.

At university, I am doing literary studies, philosophy and art history. I am a huge geek for classic literature, especially poetry (am currently working on a verse novella in sonnet form, don’t laugh). I’ve studied philosophy since I was 9. I can speak Chinese, am learning Norwegian and have plans for French and Spanish.
Some of my favourite music: My Dying Bride, Zulya and the Children of the Underground, Björk, Satyricon, Belle and Sebastian, Pink Floyd, Tori Amos, Shostakovich, Blonde Redhead, Julia Fisher’s take on the Four Seasons, Lama Gyurme and Jean-Philippe Rykiel.
Some of my favourite books: Orlando by Virginia Woolf, The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, Ariel by Sylvia Plath, All My Pretty Ones by Anne Sexton, Philosophical Fragments by Søren Kierkegaard.
Some of my favourite films: Howl’s Moving Castle, Eat Drink Man Woman, The City of Lost Children, Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!, Amadeus, Marie Antoinette, Dancer in the Dark, My Life Without Me, A Clockwork Orange.

Pretentious, much? Apparently so. But does this change if I don’t give a damn? Add Spice World and Showgirls to my favourite films, Spice Girls and Lady Gaga to my music, Harry Potter and various Marilyn Monroe biographies to the books – does the picture change a bit?

To me, being pretentious happens when someone is intent on cultivating a particular image of being cultured/grim/fantastic/sparkly/intelligent/whatever to fit a particular label like hipster or goth or artistic, without actually being cultured/grim/fantastic/sparkly/intelligent/whatever. Intrinsic to trying to creating the illusion of being ‘fill-the-blank’ is another layer of illusion; the idea that you aren’t trying at all to fit into that particular cultural subtype, you just somehow fell into it (which obviously isn’t true at all).

I have given up subscribing to labels, or caring what people think about my interests. It just seems so counter-productive, and people that label themselves as something only end up losing credibility – if you say “I’m a hipster”, I automatically think, “Mmmm, okay, so what you are really saying is that you are suppressing everything ‘unpopular’ or unusual about you and projecting yourself through the socially-categorized lens of ‘hipster’ instead”. The whole notion of pretentiousness reminds me of this scene from another one of my favourite movies:

Nobody wants the same thing all the time. Nobody could honestly say that they liked every single characteristic of a social label and nothing else beyond. That’s like deciding your favourite 100 songs are the Triple J Hottest 100, and that you hate everything else.

Ultimately, invented personality is pretentious. Honest individuality is not. To the uninformed outsider, I probably appear very pretentious; I’ll wear that because I don’t really care. However, I think it’s revealing that Nath won’t lump me into the ‘hipster’ category with all the people he mercilessly pays out – ironically, it is ‘real’ people with honest interests that are often the ones that pretentious people are so eager to emulate.

Rambling. Flu. My brain feels like mashed potato. Bedtime.

A loldog as a prize for anybody who stayed until the end (looks just like baby Posie):

xx Bunny Florentine


3 Responses to “Love-hate Labels”

  1. davidjsward April 6, 2010 at 4:20 am #

    I truly am flattered that any piece of crap I write could inspire some level of discussion, and I appreciate the fact that you’ve taken the time to elaborate on my point.
    In retrospect, the original post was merely me being self-depreciating. The fact is that if there’s anything I’m good at, its not taking myself too seriously. I consider myself pretty self-depreciating, and am more than willing to make fun of or recognise my own pretentiousness for the sake of somewhat good writing. This is where people like you and I and hipsters differ, I believe. I’ll gladly recognise my own convolutedness (?) and laugh merrily at it, whereas hipsters recoil at the notion of humour pertaining to their own identity.

    So thankyou very much for extending on my point, darl.

    And PS: hell-to-the-yes on the Harry Potter series (essentially my comfort food), and Showgirls is pretty damn awesome as well!

  2. syar April 6, 2010 at 5:20 am #

    This has nothing to do with hipsters but lady! When are we gonna meet up? It should be sooooon.

    I need to be more alert so I can keep up with your name-changing. 😉 I like this latest reincarnation.

  3. Bunny April 6, 2010 at 5:23 am #

    David – It’s okay – I am sick, in bed, in a house full of Asian gangster wannabes, avoiding a mountain of obligation. Discussion is definitely more fun. Just don’t expect me to make sense.

    Yes, I definitely agree that the ability to take oneself with a grain of salt helps avoid pretentiousness. In the end, I guess it comes down to being true to oneself, no matter how many times you’ve heard the cliché. I am a sum of my whims, influences, likes, loves, hates, .. things that move me, in general. If I am true to what these are, rather than affecting a façade of what I think people want me to like/love/hate/whatever, then that’s not pretentiousness – it’s just truth, and you can’t argue with that.

    *shrug* I have a fever. Not making sense. I should go back to sleep.

    And yes, Showgirls is the best. EVER. Especially when they have sex in the pool and she thrashes like she’s trapped in a washing machine and being attacked by a shark while having an epileptic fit. Nath has the boxed set super special amazing edition (or rather, he bought it for me for Valentines’ Day then decided to keep it for himself), complete with drinking game and ‘pin the pasties on Elizabeth’ – you should come over some time, and we’ll all get messy with Nomi Malone!

    Syar – Don’t fret – this blog is here to stay. I was getting a bit tired of the old one having to conform to a certain image, whereas this one is allowed to be ‘all me’, under a pseudonym of course! I guess everybody knows who I am (if they know me), but at least I’m not particularly google-able here.

    We are meeting up… next week? I have two bouquets due and two killer assignments and the flu this week.


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