The Hipster Vortex: I love the Irony of Mumford and Sons’ Self-Irony So Unironically

Since its release like…three seconds ago…I have watched the Mumford and Sons’ “Hopeless Wanderer” video about a trazillion times. Or, for those who don’t accept hyperbolic made-up metrics, about as many times as Mumford and Sons wear tweed and knee-high goulashes. Or, for those who don’t like similes: a shit ton. I have watched this video a shit ton.

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It’s not exactly difficult to pinpoint the reasons why this video is so virally contagious. It’s a little more difficult to decide which reason is my favorite, but I have whittled it down to a short-list:

  • 1. Jason Sudeikis’ earring.
  • 2. Ed Helms’ “I’m cold” shiver in the boat.
  • 3. Will Forte’s beard. And the fact that Ed Helms kissed that beard.
  • 4. Not only does this video feature a same-sex kiss, but also that same-sex kiss is somehow not the most talked about part of the video. This is less to the credit of Mumford and Sons– who did admittedly turn to homosexuality for humor– and more to the credit of like, the shifting culture in general. So good for you, culture. Good for you.
  • 5. Tear-licking.
  • 6. The barbershop quarter dance, which I have very promptly memorized and mastered to show-off at dance parties. Don’t worry, my roommate has learned it, too, so I won’t look silly bowing to and skipping by myself.
  • 7. Fist-playing the piano.
  • 8. EVERYTHING. THIS VIDEO’S EVERYTHING.

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I think this self-parody is exactly the right move for Mumford and Sons to make. Before this masterpiece, the band has garnered some serious criticism for popularizing and polishing folk culture for the masses. But this video, by winking at their own hipster-by-number image, re-imagines the group as self-aware in their hypocrisies as a mainstream indie-folk band. Mumford and Sons has become to hipster culture as Ke$ha is to club culture. Lady Gaga to pop idols, and Nicki Minaj too..well…no. I haven’t figured her out yet.

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But the point is, our culture has become so post-modern that successful bands have to market themselves as self-parodies and campy caricatures. Which is weird. Like, if I start to think about this video too long, I get caught up in a vortex of irony: hipsters being ironic about being ironic is like facing a mirror to a mirror, infinitely disorienting but also inexplicably mesmerizing. I just can’t look away.

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And with that face staring back at me, who would want to?

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