Aging hipster Swanson is inured to his life of privilege in New York, where he will inherit his father’s wealth. Instead of doing anything meaningful with his time, Swanson engages in meaningless games of casual cruelty with his equally numb friends.
Despite the title, this is not really a funny movie. While there are some humorous scenes, the tone is actually pretty melancholy. Deep down, it’s about the inherent emptiness that accompanies a life lived bathed in irony. Most people will probably not enjoy this film, but for those who can relate to its too-cool-for-school ethos, it provides a valuable depiction of what it means not to take the world seriously.
Edit: Just a heads up – the opening scene involves sweaty men with beer guts wrestling in their underwear. It’s pretty disturbing.
By Christy Wampole
If irony is the ethos of our age — and it is — then the hipster is our archetype of ironic living.
The hipster haunts every city street and university town. Manifesting a nostalgia for times he never lived himself, this contemporary urban harlequin appropriates outmoded fashions (the mustache, the tiny shorts), mechanisms (fixed-gear bicycles, portable record players) and hobbies (home brewing, playing trombone). He harvests awkwardness and self-consciousness. Before he makes any choice, he has proceeded through several stages of self-scrutiny. The hipster is a scholar of social forms, a student of cool. He studies relentlessly, foraging for what has yet to be found by the mainstream. He is a walking citation; his clothes refer to much more than themselves. He tries to negotiate the age-old problem of individuality, not with concepts, but with material things.
He is an easy target for mockery. However, scoffing at the hipster is only a diluted form of his own affliction. He is merely a symptom and the most extreme manifestation of ironic living. For many Americans born in the 1980s and 1990s — members of Generation Y, or Millennials — particularly middle-class Caucasians, irony is the primary mode with which daily life is dealt. One need only dwell in public space, virtual or concrete, to see how pervasive this phenomenon has become. Advertising, politics, fashion, television: almost every category of contemporary reality exhibits this will to irony.
Read the rest here: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/17/how-to-live-without-irony