I just finished watching Savannah Brown’s video, ‘i, a pretentious hipster’ on Youtube.
It was a good, insightful and even tempered video on a word that gets flung around all too loosely in daily life. Savannah notes that dissenters often use the word to degrade ambitious and unconventional art. Art that is deemed ‘too artsy’ and can be associated with the term ‘hipster.
She started out the video with an objective definition, “calling something pretentious means that the thing has a falsely inflated sense of importance”. I agree with this definition.
The only thing is that ambitious and unconventional art is pretentious. It’s hard to understand and most people don’t need to understand it to live the rest of their lives happily. When it’s presented to the public as something to be admired and pondered over, it gives itself a sense of importance that it tends to not have in people’s lives.
Savannah also notes that pretension isn’t necessarily a bad thing. She seemed frustrated by criticisms that consist of nothing more than the word ‘pretentious’ and the occasional ‘hipster’. She thinks that comments like that do nothing to explain the failings and successes of a work.
I agree with her, mostly.
Just because something seems to lend itself more important than it actually has doesn’t mean that what it has to offer is invalidated. And what does ‘hipster’ mean, anyway?
However, nobody points and shouts ‘pretentious’ and means it as a compliment. I think it’s a matter of perspective. If you have the general public as your target audience, you’re catering to the will and tastes of a mass of people who don’t have special interests or education. If you’re making a niche product, of course it’s going to be pretentious.
This isn’t to say that your product isn’t good or their tastes are bad. This article is meant to highlight the subjectivity of pretension and to mention that while it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can serve as a sign that there’s probably a conflict of interest going on.