If there’s one thing I love about the unceasing churn of hipsterism it’s the blossoming romance with rural living, the cultural colonisation of all things ‘rustic’. This newfound passion for rurality is not hard to understand. After all, ‘rural life’ is underpinned by what we in the provinces like to call ‘work’, a raw physicality that antagonises the increasingly intellectual urban world occupied by urban, artistic elites, who keep themselves busy marketing images of themselves to others, and ultimately, back to themselves. Rural living provides a wellspring of uncomplicated, binary images of straightforward production anchored through immutable, physical labour. (This is, of course, shameless romanticism. We’re an idle bunch of fucks too but since when did that stop anyone?)
The love affair with rustic living has reached fever pitch in Melbourne. Amongst the high-stakes froth of the inner city elite, it’s producing a wonderfully rarified, utilitarian idiom of a bucolic, authentic life, realised through trendy vegetables and a stream of elaborate food porn. Stylistically, the whole project is peculiarly filtered through Eastern-American, Shaker lens, reinventing an entire cohort of urbanites as a kind of dark-denim, good-time-Amish, while at the same time reflecting an absolute disconnection from the Australian rural life as experienced by third or fourth generation urbanites. I’ve yet to be reminded to rate the ‘Breech Strike and Scabby-Mouth’ App on ITunes.
Cynics might suggest this folksy revival is sheer folly, the work of depoliticised youngsters, frittering away their pampered lives, searching for meaning in the absence of hardship or struggle. And that may be so. But to critique hipsterism overlooks the project’s fundamental promise; That one day someone will bring home a sheep.
Oh yes, it’s only a matter of time before young Justin, freshly recovered from his woodchopping ‘incident’, discovers The Smith Journal’s article on hand shearing and convinces his flatmates in between cups of kombucha tea (Mongolian for ‘torrential vomiting’) that what they really, really need is a sheep.
This will be hipsterism’s high water mark. Because nothing keeps it real like sheep. Sheep are the ultimate hipsters. They cluster and shy in unpredictable ways, hovering vacantly over their raw-vegan menus. They bleat and renounce technology that can’t be operated with a cloven hoof. Sheep want to be like everyone else, except when it’s time to be counted and then they’re on their own.
Well I say bring it on, Justin, with your kale smoothie and activated sticking plasters. The world is your sheep dip.