Raj, Bohemian: advertising and the hierarchy within the sub culture of hipsters (and its cycles)
By: James Siddall
Though advertising’s attack on society is the bulk of the conflict, there is another intriguing point made by Hari Kunzru in his short story. Yes, our protagonist is haunted by a world of sponsors: everyone’s trying to sell something! His social bashes, beautiful friends and even his home are corrupted by advertisement. “…his whole conversation had been a sales pitch. It was creepy. More than creepy. It was sinister.”
Raj’s stealthy advertisement campaign snapped something in the narrator’s mind. His sacred parties were not the same. His uber-hip comrades were not the same. He rid himself of all possessions, leaving boxes on the street for the city to pick through. The king hipster could never go back to his life…or so he thought!
And that is what leads us to the other intriguing point presented in the story. Sponsorship and advertising rule in today’s society, and we thrive on it. Our culture revolves around products. No matter how much we cut ourselves off, they always come back to us. This is what Kunzru is trying to display in his intellectually written piece. What is new and hip is only part of a continuous cycle. The protagonist begins with the belief he and his comrades are above all that. They “despised the trendies”, those who follow societies guidelines for what’s cool. However, he soon figures out that no one is untouched by advertisements. This knowledge breaks him as he goes on a quest of purification and later, vengeance. The narrator’s anger becomes incorrectly focused on one man: Raj. “It was then that I realized I’d been robbed. I’d been forcibly expropriated from myself”. But when our protagonist confronts him, knife in hand, a realization occurs. The reality of Raj’s life was just as ordinary, just as polluted by the cycle. And from this realization, the narrator is once again cast into the hierarchy within the sub culture of hipsters (and its cycles). “He smiled and started to tell me about a party, a guest list, a secret venue. I took out my phone to punch in the contact number”.
Word count: 363