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US Servicemembers Were Hipsters Before Being A Hipster Was Cool
By RU Contributor Jack Mandaville
Hipsters. You know who I’m talking about. They’re those individuals who, in their quest for unmatched distinctiveness, have become an unoriginal stereotype of an American subculture. Everything they do is in the name of independence and nonconformity, and it’s annoyingly cliché. The glasses they all wear, the mustaches the men folk sport, and the skinny jeans, it’s all about being different—and it’s all the fucking same.
I know a lot about these people. I’m their Jane Goodall. I’ve observed them in the wild (gentrified urban areas) for years now. When I got out of the Marine Corps, I rented a townhome in downtown Minneapolis. This area is arguably the Midwestern capital of the hipster caste. Then I moved to Austin, Texas. Again, this is an area overflowing with these animals. But, unlike Minneapolis, where the main style of footwear is Chuck Taylor and mukluk, the Austin hipster sports $400 snakeskin boots in order to showcase his Texas pedigree. Next it was Southern California. These hipsters are by far the worst. The ocean air has sullied their brains to the point where they feel it’s both fashionable and appropriate to wear scarves to the beach in the middle of July. Now I live in Midland, TX. I’ve only seen one hipster in three months. I’m in heaven.
I was out with some old Marine Corps friends a few months ago. We were at a trendy Irish pub in the area and enjoying ourselves immensely when one of these animals walked in. I was overwhelmed by his aura of hipsterness. He fit every stereotype to the tee. I was just about to start mocking him when a horrifying revelation entered my brain: Marines (and other members of the military) enter into the same kind of behavior as hipsters. Whether they’re doing it intentionally or unintentionally, the similarities are nonetheless startling.
Blasted whiskey! Always making me conjure up these whacked out ideas and comparisons.
Hear me out on this one.
Thick Rimmed Glasses: It’s no hidden secret that hipsters, if given a choice between glasses or contacts, will choose glasses every… single… fucking… TIME! Even those who don’t need glasses will wear them. We all know that image is much more powerful than accomplishment when it comes to hipster culture, so the glasses are a potent way for them to show everyone how smart they are.
It’s a way of saying: “Hey, look at me. Yes, these glasses are extremely revolting and outdated, but everything I do is so awesome that I make these glasses look cool. The best way for you to be a nonconformist is to go out and buy a pair.”
I want to ridicule these people so much more, however, I’m forced to confront the fact that I too have been reduced to donning these abortions of eyewear. I’m not proud of it. Actually, I hate myself for it—as I should.
They’re called BCGs, aka Birth Control Goggles. Why this moniker? Because, nobody gets laid when they wear these things. NOBODY!
And, people, in true hipster fashion, I must state that members of the US Military were wearing these glasses before they became mainstream. These things have been around since, like, forever. You think Buddy Holly was an original? Fuck no! Military members were already wearing these things long before the music died.
Furthermore, in recent news, the Marine Corps has announced that it will be doing away with this design in order to encourage Marines to wear issued glasses after they exit bootcamp. I’ve seen the new design and I’ve listened to the comments by Marines. They overall sentiment is that they are no different from the old design. They’re still too thick. They still make your ass look ugly. And it’s still a fashion accessory that everybody else has.
So, let me pose a question. Are military members just brainless conformists for wearing an article that everybody else in their subculture wears, or, are they even better because they’re doing it and mainstream (excluding hipsters) society isn’t?
Whoa, these paradoxes are making my brain hurt.
Mustaches: The mustache has not been in style for young men since the 80’s. That’s why male hipsters love to grow mustaches. Anything considered archaic is ideal for the hipster. Actually, it’s the standard. Just like vinyl records, banana seat bicycles, and Polaroid cameras—all standard hipster items—the mustache serves no practical purpose. Unlike the beard, it doesn’t provide a concrete way of keeping the face warm on cold nights. It’s just another needless accessory that young hipsters must have in order to highlight their quirkiness and rebellious spirit.
US Servicemembers understand this mentality all too well. The mustache is their main form of dissention. Since beards, sideburns, and goatees are all gross violations of American military grooming standards (and acceptable to the mainstream), male Marines show their individuality by growing mustaches.
The timeframe you’ll see them doing this the most is when they’re on deployment. It’s their way of saying: “Hey, First Sergeant, you may be able to control everything else I do in this organization, but you’ll never be able to take away my ability to grow lip fuzz. And, since everyone else is doing it, I’m going to as well. It makes me look different and helps me forget that I’m at war because it highlights my individual spirit.”
When you bring up the subject of mustaches around military members, they’re more than willing to compare their growth with the likes of Tom Selleck, Wyatt Earp, and all the other badass manly-men with mustaches. But, whatever you do, DON’T remind them that John Waters, Prince, and Greek women also have mustaches. This might make their heads boil with confusion.
The modern hipster has only been around for a decade or so, but the military man’s use of the mustache is as old as warfare itself. Sorry, hipsters, war fighters had mustaches before you did.
Keffiyehs: If you’re an American walking to your Berkeley graduate class with a keffiyeh wrapped around your neck, it doesn’t make you cultured. It makes you a douchebag.
I’m not insinuating that Westerners shouldn’t be allowed to wear this piece of traditional Arab garb, but I think they should be doing it for the right reasons and under the right circumstances.
We wore them in Iraq. Yep, we wrapped these things around our necks and under our helmets when we went out on patrol. Do you know why? Because, in Iraq, they have these things called Shamals. A Shamal is a high-powered sand storm that’s exclusive to Iraq and Kuwait. I’m not a religious man myself, but if you’re looking for a true example of God’s rage toward men, you’ll find it in an approaching Shamal storm. These fucking things come at you with such violence and fury that a grown man can be left frozen with fear. Day turns to night. Productivity comes to a halt. And, otherwise healthy lungs can be turned into complete shit, resulting in violent coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
I suppose another reason a lot of Servicemembers wore them was because they were eager to absorb local culture and customs in an acceptable manner. Most chain-of-commands—unless they were complete dickheads—allowed their Marines to sport this look. It was practical to the surroundings and the mission. And it should go without saying that it was an exceptional shield against the hot Arab sun.
Then I came home and went to college. These bastards took a beautiful scarf that had been used by an ancient people for thousands of years and turned it into nothing more than a modish fashion symbol for urban hipsters and their aspirants. They ruined the keffiyeh for me.
Let me give you an uncomplicated scenario of how retardly idiotic things got. I spent a chunk of my life hanging out in small hamlets in Iraq, conversing with locals, drinking chai with them, tasting their cuisine, and listening to them bitch about all the complicated issues going on as a result of the insurgent and American presence—and that should go without mentioning all the violence. Then I blinked my eyes and found myself in a classroom outside of Minneapolis. It was there that I witnessed suburban teenagers—who were going to school fifteen minutes away from their parents’ house—comment and deliberate on the political and tactical ramifications of the Iraq War. And they did this as they sipped on their four dollar lattes, while looking up arguing points on their four hundred dollar iphones. Furthermore, in all of this, they wore their fifty dollar Abercrombie and Fitch keffiyehs as if they were TE Lawrence himself.
Can you imagine if some 300 lb. kid at the University of Baghdad got into a discussion about the goings on in America while he was wearing NASCAR sweatpants from Wal-Mart, eating a quarter pounder with cheese, and quoting shit from Seinfeld? It would get pretty fucking annoying, wouldn’t it? Just because he can mimic us, doesn’t mean he knows anything about us.
Regardless, any red-blooded American knows the best sweatpants come from Target, the best burger is a Whopper, and Frasier was by far a more entertaining 90’s sitcom.
Looking poor, but not being poor: Hipsters love having the appearance of being poor without going through the hardships of actual poverty. As much as I’ve researched and observed their species over the years, I’ve never been able to get the definite answer as to why they enjoy this. My biggest theory is their genus is perpetually ashamed of the nice suburban safe havens they were raised in, so they have to give the false impression that they’re impoverished while they attend a $20,000 a semester liberal arts school.
They do this by buying all their clothes at hand-me-down thrift stores like the Salvation Army—which ironically, in their haste to identify with the less fortunate, completely takes away resources from those who actually need it. While the hipsters have the Salvation Army, Marines have the US Army, and this tradition of recycling goes back far longer than any hipster can imagine.
Go to any Marine Corps instillation in the world and ask the Marines to give you a tour of their facilities and equipment. Chances are, at one point or another, a Marine will proudly proclaim, “We got this from the Army about twenty years ago, and we still do more with less.”
Being the bastards of military budgeting is a badge of honor for Marines. They will take every opportunity to tell you how they have less financial support from the DoD than any other branch, get more used equipment, yet still get called out for every mission. To them, the poorer you are, the more important you are.
Can you imagine a well funded Marine Corps? Jesus tap dancing Christ on a cracker, it would be disastrous. Marines would have everything they want. Their superiors wouldn’t be able to hold anything over their heads anymore. It would cause them to stop touting their poorness all the time, therefore causing them to lose all purpose in life. Next thing you know, they’d start saying nice things about all the other branches of the military. OH-EM-GEE! Just the thought of this is making me shit, piss, and puke… all at the same time!
But like hipsters, Marines don’t know what real poverty is. Remember, they like the idea of being poor more than actually being poor. In their heart of hearts, they know that they have it better than the majority of armies in the world.
Go up to any Marine who is talking about the lack of funding for his or her branch and challenge them to go join any of the foreign militaries that can’t even afford fucking flak jackets for their troops. I guarantee the first thing that will come out of their mouth will be: “Fuck that shit! I don’t want to be poor!”