The Anti-Hipster Issue

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A recent post on Screener. Movie Stuff raises some very interesting issues as regards the treatment of so-called ‘hipster’ stylistic values in cinema. It’s sparked by the reviews to have been put forward for the Where the Wild Things Are trailer, noting reviews which seems to identify the two key creative protagonists behind the adaptation, director Spike Jonze and co-writer Dave Eggers, as ‘hipster kings’.

This kind of criticism, and the wider snarking over the use of so-called indie hallmarks (animated title sequences, specifically independent musical soundtrack etc.), does seem to serve to place independent cinema of this kind into a separate negative category of filmmaking, that of ‘hipster movies’ which are made to appeal to the better-than-thou intellectual pretensions of this stereotyped crowd. In doing so, they identify the film within an exclusive sub-genre which is unlikely to appeal to anyone outside of the New York crowd and often damage the sentiment towards the films before they even come out. It’s something which is spreading into popular journalistic circles, having previously been the surfeit of the populist cinema sector in the dubbing of movements like ‘mumblecore’.

I understand the need for critics to take on issues they feel strongly on, but damaging the reputation of a movie through a reactionary critique based entirely on face style and a two-dimensional viewpoint seems to negate the place of critics entirely. Screener argues quite rightly that, especially with Where the Wild Things Are, you have two legitimately talented people behind the project, making what appears a beautiful adaptation of a beloved children’s book.

I would add, in minor defence of those not fond of the trailer, that maybe they are in love dearly with the book and feel a fanboy-like reaction to any even minor criticisms. A work like Maurice Sendak’s will inspire devotion and will be envisaged in different ways by film critics and commentators around the world. To me, it looks inspired. To others, it may well look all wrong. No arguing with opinion, folks.

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