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Peter T Chattaway

Hipsters and the A&F Top 100!

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Christianity Today's sidebar on "Stuff Christian Hipsters Like" includes this tidbit (I've corrected the spelling and punctuation in a couple cases):

Movies by these Directors

, Sofia Coppola, Spike Jonze,
,
,
,
,
,
, Martin Scorsese,
, Hou Hsiao-Hsien,
, Jane Campion, Wes Anderson,
, David Gordon Green, Gus Van Sant,
,
,
, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Alfonso Cuarón

In cases where these directors are represented in our Top 100 list, I have linked the director's name to their top-ranked film.

It would seem that the Top 100 is missing a number of these filmmakers -- though I'd be surprised if at least some of them hadn't been included in earlier versions of the Top 100 -- but it's worth noting that our list has 7 Bergman films, 6 Tarkovsky films, 5 films apiece from Bresson, the Dardennes and Ozu, 3 Dreyer films, and 2 films apiece from P.T. Anderson, Godard, Kieslowski, Malick and Wenders. So, including the Coens and Zhangke, who only have 1 film apiece on our list, the current incarnation of the Top 100 has a "Christian hipster" factor of 43 percent.

Incidentally, I think it could be interesting to tease out the ways in which "Christian hipster" is a very distinct thing from plain-and-simple "hipsters". In what world, for example, would Scorsese be considered "hip"? Perhaps among evangelicals for whom admitting that you have seen The Last Temptation of Christ is tantamount to admitting that you have flirted with blasphemy. But in the world at large...?

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Incidentally, I think it could be interesting to tease out the ways in which "Christian hipster" is a very distinct thing from plain-and-simple "hipsters". In what world, for example, would Scorsese be considered "hip"? Perhaps among evangelicals for whom admitting that you have seen The Last Temptation of Christ is tantamount to admitting that you have flirted with blasphemy. But in the world at large...?

And what of Tarantino, who has always struck me as a very "hipster" director?


"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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Indeed. I think Tarantino, Kubrick, Jonze, Nolan, Fincher, etc... are much better candidates for this list.

I can't actually conceive of the universe in which Jia, Dreyer, Ozu, or the Dardennes would be considered "hip". That world is like an Ursula Le Guin nightmare in which Susan Sontag has become the pastor of your church.


"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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I think the lesser known foreign directors would probably be more in line with hipster tastes. Fincher and Nolan are pretty mainstream.

Edited by J.R.

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The fact that they are relatively mainstream, and have mainstreamed cinema forms previously linked with "independent" cinema, makes them more amenable to the list. But I don't want to fall into the trap of debating this. Part of what rubs me the wrong way here is that using artists as identity markers for a social distinction tends to delegitimize their work. Putting someone like Jia into a list of "Stuff Christian Hipsters Like" commodifies him, turns him into the lapis American Apparel basic t-shirt rather than the slate one.

And I am uncomfortable with how quickly these lists lead to us vs. them conversations. I prefer the one about reconciliation and wonder that this board has typically perpetuated on the shoulders of that list.

Edited by M. Leary

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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Part of what rubs me the wrong way here is that using artists as identity markers for a social distinction tends to delegitimize their work. Putting someone like Jia into a list of "Stuff Christian Hipsters Like" commodifies him, turns him into a lapis American Apparel basic t-shirt rather than the slate one.

And I am uncomfortable with how quickly these lists lead to us vs. them conversations. I prefer the one about reconciliation ...

I agree with this so intensely, I'm a little choked up. Thank you, Michael.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

 

"Forget it, Jake. It's Funkytown."    

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What M. Leary said.


"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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Reading the three CT pieces linked on the front CT page has been the single most disappointing, depressing, disillusioning experience I've had since I started paying attention to, and contributing to, CT.

I've just been kicked in the teeth. Forgive me if I say "Ouch."

I might write an essay about why it hurts so much. But they would probably just nod smugly and say, "Ah, the defining characteristic of a H------r... he rejects the term."

And that would further demonstrate what grieves me about these articles... that they are doing more to create misunderstanding, labeling, division, and presumption than to reconcile and cultivate understanding and meaningful conversation.

How could I feel good about writing about the glory of, say, one of the artists included on their Field Guide list of "how to recognize one of these creatures"? I won't. I won't write about it on a platform where a little flashing label will appear over my head: "H-----r! H-----r! H-----r!" No, screw that.

(Uh oh. Did I just say something mildly shocking? Boy, am I a H------r or what? Because if someone uses a meaningful term in a meaningful way, well, slap a label on that boy!)

Somewhere, Screwtape is pleased. Christians have exciting new ways to judge each other by holding up certain checklists of preferences, and dismiss one another, when they might have chosen understanding instead.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

 

"Forget it, Jake. It's Funkytown."    

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How could I feel good about writing about the glory of, say, one of the artists included on their Field Guide list of "how to recognize one of these creatures"? I won't. I won't write about it on a platform where a little flashing label will appear over my head: "H-----r! H-----r! H-----r!" No, screw that.

Evangelical Field Guides are only worthwhile when Joel Kilpatrick writes them.


It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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.....

Somewhere, Screwtape is pleased. Christians have exciting new ways to judge each other by holding up certain checklists of preferences, and dismiss one another, when they might have chosen understanding instead.

Amen Jeffrey!

I would be more convinced if McCracken actually talked to "Hipster Christians" in his article.

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All I can say is huh? I could not even begin to start with the litany of generalizations and sweeping statements made by McCracken. I must not be a "Christian Hipster" as I never read relevant magazine or took a trip to a microbrewery with my church. It would be hilarious if it was not just so sad and strange.

Also, how can he write that so called hipster christians are into liberal politics and then use Driscoll to hold up hipster? It makes no sense because Driscoll is extremely conservative in his politics and religious theology.

Edited by rjkolb

If there were no God, there would be no Atheists.

G. K. Chesterton (1874 - 1936)

I'm still an atheist, thank God.

Luis Bunuel (1900 - 1983)

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I know that I, for one, am mentioned positively in the book.

That dude I know who likes to sneer at Christians who listen to rock music and watch foreign films came up to me and said, "Don't worry, though. He said something nice about you in the book." Well, phew! I'm in the clear! I surrender all my frustrations with the book! Because my protests were really just about my ego, you know.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

 

"Forget it, Jake. It's Funkytown."    

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I didn't say the book was sneering.

I was referring to a guy I know who *does* sneer at Christians who are participating in the art and culture of their day, and who is always delighted to find new names to call them. He told me he just read the book and now he "understands the crowd I hang out with."

I'll bet he doesn't. He doesn't even know who I hang out with. But having read a bunch of generalizations, he's pretty sure he does know.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

 

"Forget it, Jake. It's Funkytown."    

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I'm baffled by all the anger over this book, and the articles.

If we can construe the kind of theological criticism that this book has generated as something as bland as "anger," then I don't have a reasonable book in my library.


"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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sorry for the confusion... i wasn't sure who you were talking about. (To be honest, I'm still not sure.)

You'd better not be sure. You don't know him. He doesn't bother interacting with folks who don't live up to his standards of what a Christian should be like. I've referred to him occasionally as "that guy I know" who I first met when he ranted at me after a presentation on "U2 and the Psalms" that I shouldn't encourage idolatry by praising men who are not faithful to a particular church body every Sunday morning.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

 

"Forget it, Jake. It's Funkytown."    

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I read the seven page article that was linked to from the article PTC originally posted about here. It was enough for me to realize I don't need to read the book. McCracken seems to have a thing for lumping entire groups together without differentiating one from the other -- in many cases, too, where one group would certainly desire that differentiation, were they to *have* to be defined and/or labelled. In film terms this would simply mean that a person that gravitates toward Ozu might be an entirely different person than the one that gravitates toward Bergman. I'm sorry, it is just that simple. To define people that love both in the same category is numbingly absurd. Case in point: in the seven page article, the two great "Mars Hills" are both mentioned. Believe me, we don't want to be mentioned in the same breath, especially as the west coast faction just last year referred to my Teaching Pastor as a heretic. To generalize and lump all of these styles into one thing -- whatever you want to call it -- is reductionist, minimalist, misguided, unhelpful. It doesn't bring understanding, it promotes more forms of exlusionism by bringing a system where one moralist can look down on another form of belief, and it ultimately tries to bring a definition to a form of faith where definition isn't as key as are journey and belonging.

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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E2C, I love Garrison Keillor because he's got a deep empathy at the core of his project. If Keillor claimed to be doing serious ethnography or cultural criticism, it would be harder to enjoy him. But he's just a storyteller. And he's not satirizing people in an attempt to avoid taking them or their concerns seriously.

David Sessions has nailed my principal objection better than anyone.

"Focusing on the trappings of “hipsterism” directs the discussion away from anything that might sound weighty or controversial, and often distills symptoms of young Christians’ search for a theological, cultural and moral identity into a shallow pursuit of street cred. These questions about how the Christian life should be conducted inside and outside the church doors, McCracken seems to say, spring from the Christian hipster's fastidious concern for his personal image and for the "branding" of his faith."

"Twenty-somethings have indeed rebelled against the more superficial aspects of the evangelical church he identifies—the mindless song lyrics, the excessive casualness, the gratuitous cultural ingratiation, the far-right politics—but the underlying issues are much more profound than he even hints...Young Christians have not jumped ship in record numbers solely because evangelicalism offers nothing that appeals to them socially and aesthetically, but because its intellectual crisis is so dire that it responds to moral dilemmas with little more than fear, nostalgia, and, most disturbingly, hints of bigotry."

I've frequently seen hints of that bigotry in McCracken, but it is made explicit in Ted Olsen's piece.

If anger arises from that, it's the anger of people who have been trying to alert evangelicalism to real problems--some of us for decades--and after finally making some progress in opening the discussion up, we find ourselves dismissed once again.

McCracken is hocking phony understanding and caricature in place of analysis, and seems to primarily be offering evangelicalism a new set of rhetorical tools for dismissing these important concerns and letting evangelicalism continue with its ongoing train wreck. Surely you can see why that's frustrating.

Edited by Holy Moly!

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I confess, I'm a bit perplexed by both the idea of "Christian Hipsters" and a bit by the outrage of it becoming a "label." David Dunham sums up my thoughts nicely in his review of McCracken's book:

My contention with all of this is that it is so broad, and takes so little consideration of major distinguishing features, that it seems little more than humorous, and that’s how most of the book feels. McCracken is witty and sarcastic, even sardonic, at times. I laughed out loud, even when I hated feeling like he had pegged me in one of his categories. But the reality is that he has pegged just about everyone I know in one of his categories. If you like ancient religious practices with a bent towards Eastern Orthodox worship you’re a hipster. If you like high technological usage, like tweeting during the sermon, then you’re a hipster…and seemingly everything in between. If you’re a yuppie or a starving artist you’re a hipster. If you’re a Calvinist or an Emergent you’re a hipster. And this all just seems like nonsense after a while.

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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M. Leary wrote:

: Part of what rubs me the wrong way here is that using artists as identity markers for a social distinction tends to delegitimize their work.

Oh, well put. Reminds me of comments that some people made during the Harry Potter controversy a decade ago, re: treating books as boundary markers (not QUITE the same thing as "identity markers", but similar) rather than treating them as, well, books.

LibrarianDeb wrote:

: I would be more convinced if McCracken actually talked to "Hipster Christians" in his article.

I must admit I haven't had time to read the article myself, much less his book, but doesn't McCracken SELF-identify as a "Christian hipster"? I mean, when I look at the list of filmmakers in that sidebar, I find myself wondering to what degree McCracken is objectively identifying the tastes of a clearly defined demographic and to what degree he is basically saying, "These are the filmmakers that *I* like." (Side note: I first met McCracken on the junket for The New World, so I'm not at all surprised to see Malick on this list -- but to what degree can Malick reasonably be construed as a "hipster" hero? or, as per my Scorsese question, is he merely a hero among "CHRISTIAN hipsters"?)

e2c wrote:

: I'm kind of repeating myself... see the other thread on this topic ("Hipster Christianity") in the Faith Matters forum, which is where most of the discussion of the book and related articles is located.

Yikes, I forgot to include that link in my earlier post, didn't I? Thanks for adding it here.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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