Culture, Mishegas

"Jewish Hipster Cool: Dead or Alive?"

Zeek’s Michaelson reflects personally and politically:

That’s the trick, of course; as soon as something becomes big enough for the mainstream — even the alternative mainstream — it’s lost its edge. This is what’s pathetic about the Jewish institutional world’s belated attempt to jump on the cool-Jew bandwagon: all that effort, and the ive-minutes-behind-the-times style, just makes them look even lamer. What’s more, cool has always had a rebellious, undermining quality. Take away the edge and what’s left is MC Hammer: sanitized hip-hop for white suburban kids. Likewise the attempt to co-opt superficial design elements of “Jewish cool” without its underlying critique of established Jewish categories, assumptions, and sacred cows. Again, it’ll fool some people —
but it can’t be actually cool.

(see also Sh’ma‘s previous article on Marketing Cool)
Jewschool rhymes with cool…does that help? Or does having school in our name just make us nerdy? Oh wait — nerdy Jewish is cool, right?

6 thoughts on “"Jewish Hipster Cool: Dead or Alive?"

  1. the only thing that stays cool is, doing things that may or may not be considered cool at the time, not for the sake of being cool, but because you think those things are good in themselves.
    substance, not style, is what’s important.
    that being said, everyone is different, and yiddishkeit has to be conveyed in different ways in order for different people to understand and appreciate it.
    The criticism of Nontraditional Jewish Music (Y-Love, Matisyahu, Ta Shma, SoCalled, Blanketstatementstein) is that its too “trendy”, but I mean, for those of us who didnt grow up listening to Reb Shlomo or klezmer, but grew listening to Warren G, 311, Nirvana, and Rage Against The Machine, this music is easier for us to digest and relate to than some of the more traditional stuff.

  2. The trick, if you’re an institution, is not to even attempt the “cool” track. A solid set of offerings – educational, liturgical, social-action related – reliably offered never goes out of style. They may need some tweaking, because any reasonably large organization serves multiple constituencies, but any attempt at “cool” is destined to be lame.

  3. I wasnt comparing any of those artists to Warren G, but yeah when I was a kid, I was bumping Warren G out of the Magnavox. Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting we start referring to poskim as “regulators”. Heh.

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