lifestyle choices and sidewalk stencils – a critique of hipster social critiques

Author: Gram Pettitfog

Intrepid editorial contributor Jayne Hynie sent me a picture of a poster of a sidewalk stencil that she thought I would appreciate. Yes, everyone knows I am a connoisseur of fine poster graphics. Sure, it is cute. There is some truth to the message, but like so much of US culture it is based on commonly accepted conventions and commercialization of being ‘different’, all in a cheap stencil in ‘green’ color.

hipster rebel stencil, coming to your neighborhood soon
hipster rebel stencil, coming to your neighborhood soon

Do they? Freedom? No, ‘they’ do not hate our freedom.

If ‘they’ means corporations, then maybe they hate a loss of revenue by the diversion of our income from automobile purchase, automobile parking, automobile operation costs, automobile insurance costs, and the attendant health care costs from sitting on your ass in a car during your three hour a day commute. but I think the corporatists know that most cyclists own a car, so no fear there.

Sure, go ahead and rider yer bike you rebel you – enjoy that ride on the 4 lane collector in 40-50mph traffic, along side the bus drivers that go ‘toot toot’ with their horn to let you know they are blowing a red light, secure in the knowledge that if someone runs you down or kills you that they will not get much more than a couple of points on the license if they cooperate with the cops writing the report – save the world with your lifestyle and t-shirt choice, I dare you.

If ‘they’ means motorists, then maybe they hate us like the AM talk radio host that they listen to during the commute teaches them to, but I can’t imagine a motorist being sophisticated enough to think of riding a bike as freedom. To them riding a bike is punishment for being poor or for losing your license for drunk-driving offenses.

Bicycles are an affront to the notions that they have been brainwashed with from birth, notions such as that an auto purchase is an ‘investment’, a rite of passage to adulthood, necessary for dating, necessary for toting themselves and purchases, necessary for personal safety, an extension of their personality and of course, their self esteem and economic status. Cars are freedom and mom and apple pie. John Wayne and Al Capone did not ride bikes, nossir.

Bikes are not freedom, bikes are irrelevant and in ‘their’ lane.

I have modified the stencil slightly, simplifying the message and leaving innocent bikes out of it. Motorist don’t merely hate the alleged freedom of cyclists, they hate the whole world through their collective lifestyle choice they have adopted thoughtlessly, they are just too ignorant to realize it.

an image even motorists can identify with, even if they cannot interpret, or see this as referring to themselves
an image even motorists can identify with, even if they cannot interpret, or see as referring to themselves

People are taught that rules are meant to be broken and are for everyone else. To be polite or considerate of others or the environment is to be seen as weak, stupid, and a sucker. Let someone else save the world, in the meantime I am getting mine.

Pity the motorist, pity the short sighted corporatist, and pity us who reap what they sow whether we want to or not.

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