Ayn Rand + Hipsters = 'Hipster Shrugged'

hipster shrugged.jpg
Every now and then, some lonesome soul on Twitter will try to get a hashtag or trend of their own invention to catch on, and most of the time, it doesn't work, and nobody really hears about them. One person recently did this, but much to their surprise, found the few people who played along with what's actually a pretty hysterical idea had some decent fun with it: Hipster Shrugged.

There's are people who enjoy Ayn Rand, and then there are the certain stripe of "cool" young people who love Ayn Rand and her "objectivism" philosophy, which, if you're not already familiar with it, is basically Social Darwinism for horny sociopaths. They probably make a point of calling themselves "entrepreneurs" and hyper-assert ways to differentiate themselves from "everyone" else. Julian Sanchez -- a writer with bylines at The Atlantic, The Economist, and Reason -- documented his experience with a hashtag of his own invention, "Hipster Shrugged," a play on hipsters and, of course, Ayn Rand's famous novel Atlas Shrugged. All you need to know about Atlas Shrugged to get these jokes is really just its plot:

The protagonist, Dagny Taggart, sees society collapse around her as the government increasingly asserts control over all industry, while society's most productive citizens, led by the mysterious John Galt, progressively disappear. Galt describes the strike as "stopping the motor of the world" by withdrawing the "minds" that drive society's growth and productivity. In their efforts, these "men of the mind" hope to demonstrate that a world in which the individual is not free to create is doomed, that civilization can not exist where men are slave to society and government, and that the destruction of the profit motive leads to the collapse of society.

Also, that it's a really long book. Sanchez explained:

So, I inadvertently started a pretty ridiculous Twitter meme yesterday. I wrote:

Painfully tempted to do a parody rewrite w/John Galt as hipster & Gulch in Williamsburg RT @thecalebbacon: Atlas shrugged and said "meh."

The 60-page speech to be replaced by a Tom Verlaine solo...

Which inspired:

ziege19 @normative Who is John Galt? Oh, you probably haven't heard of him, he's really obscure. #HipsterShrugged

Which was all it took to set folks off. Some of my favorites:

So, I stopped the motor of the world, which was fine because I got a great deal on this fixie. #HipsterShrugged

I stopped contributing to society way before "going Galt" was cool. #HipsterShrugged

I have John Galt's entire speech... on vinyl #hipstershrugged

Galt's Speech really isn't as good as his earlier work. #hipstershrugged

Well, I think it's funny, and also, it's Friday. #Excuses. But really, it's also a great illustration of one thing we're seeing Twitter yield more and more often: funny bits of relatively obscure humor that we've never otherwise seen the likes of, or had it so readily available. And if there's one thing the world is never not in need of, it's a laugh. Especially at the expense of hipsters and Ayn Rand obsessives.

[fkamer@villagevoice.com]


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