Image Problem: Appealing for Appeal

Further to yesterday's post, one commenter had the following to say:

Anonymous said...

You say "hipster" way too much, get over it for fucks sake.

June 23, 2011 6:01 AM

You know, it's just this sort of attitude that has given hipsters the image problems from which they're now suffering. If instead of denying their own hipsterdom and telling people to leave them alone like surly teenagers "foffing off" in their bedrooms, hipsters were to unite and work to overcome the public's perception of them, I daresay they might become respected and valued members of society. I'd recommend they start with a massive PR campaign aimed at the working class, and it could go something like this:

As for the campaign's slogan, I'm thinking something simple and catchy along the lines of "Hipsters: Like Real People, Only More Expensive."

Granted, the guy in the second picture is less of a hipster than he is just a generic Best Made Co. douche, but this is just a hasty mock-up, and I'm confident that the hipster community can harness its considerable graphic design skills to really nail it.

The truth is there's no use denying hipsters exist, and there's also no use denying that they make people angry. Frankly, I wouldn't be worried about it at all if it didn't have a direct effect on cycling--but it does, for here in New York City, anti-cycling forces have exploited people's hatred of hipsters by portraying all cyclists as nothing more than crazed brakeless fixie-riding scofflaw transplants. So for this reason alone I'd like to see them subvert this by working to gain people's goodwill.

In fact, the problem has gotten so bad that the Forces of Smugness have had to work overtime to dispel the myth that all cyclists in New York City are heedless hipsters. To this end, Streetfilms (a smugness subsidiary of Streetsblog) has been "dropping" a series of "edits" featuring complete and utter anti-hipsters. Sure, this may be a bit like dropping a bunch of golf balls on the BP oil spill given the sheer volume of moronic alleycat and hillbombing "edits" out there, but I suppose it's a start, and the impressive cast of anti-hipsters they've assembled so far includes a fashion-neutral dad:

Though even Streetfilms can't whitewash the reality of hipster cycling, for at 1:14 our hero is the victim of a violent Cat 6 attack:

Then there's the older woman undaunted by age or maniac drivers:

"We didn't have phones when I was very young, and my friends didn't have a phone," explains Lucette Gilbert, "so if you wanted to speak to your friend, you had to bike over to their house."

See, now people talk on their phones while riding, but back then people had to ride their bikes in order to talk at all. Plus, while the young and entitled complain about cars parking in bike lanes and pick fights with the cops, Ms. Gilbert just rides around them:

Clearly the "bike culture" could do with a little less smugness and a little more good old-fashioned "You know, when I was your age..." senior shaming.

Not only that, but Streetfilms also turns the high-pressure hose on the bike-haters by featuring a firefighter:

Firefighters are the polar opposite of hipsters in that they are as universally revered and respected in New York City as the hipster is reviled. Therefore, using a firefighter in a pro-cycling video is like using a child as a human shield in a gunfight. By the way, I couldn't help but notice this guy:

Streetfilms clearly have the most profoundly smug "B-roll" archive of any film production entity in the world. "Hey, I'm editing the firefighter video. Do we have a shot of a guy in a safety vest carrying his compost and his children in the same container?" Of course they do.

Speaking of Streetsblog, while reading it I learned about the following article, which aims to explain the "gender gap" in cycling:

In it, the writer asserts that a big part of the reason women don't ride for transportation as much as men is that they can't afford to:

Bicycling is, in much of the car-centric U.S., either a privilege or a punishment. That's why more women aren't bicycling. It isn't because we're fearful and vain; it's because we're busy and broke and our transportation system isn't set up for us to do anything but drive.

You may or may not agree, but either way you've got to admit that only a man could possibly order a ridiculous "commuter bike" like this:

I don't know how much that thing cost, but I'm sure it's enough to make most people say, "Fuck it, I'm buying a minivan."

I'd also be tempted to say that perhaps the phallic nature of bicycle marketing is something of a turn-off for women, but clearly Specialized don't feel that way. In fact, their new women's road bike has what may be the most phallic top tube ever designed:

Most noticeable is a new flared top tube, dubbed the "Cobra", which ends in a bulbous tapered head tube...

Wow. And don't be afraid to push on it, ladies, it won't break:

"The head tube looks cool, but it does serve a purpose by preventing local deflection," said Specialized engineer Kyle Chubbuck. "When you push on the top of an eggshell you can't break it, and that's what's going on with the dome head tube."

So to recap: This bike has a top tube called the "Cobra" with a bulbous head and designed by a man named Chubbuck. Available now at your "LBS:"

Or shipped discreetly to your door in plain packaging.

Speaking of brown paper bags, the photo below was forwarded to me by a reader, and I might wear a brown paper bag over my head if this bike belonged to me:

Evidently exotic flat-bar road bikes are the new trend in commuting.

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