TV review: ‘Portlandia’ teaches us to embrace hipster-dom

By Dylan Lysen

University Daily Kansan, U. Kansas via UWIRE

“Portlandia” is a show currently airing on the International Film Channel, created by and starring Saturday Night Live veteran Fred Armisen and ‘90s alternative rocker Carrie Brownstein. The show uses the same sketch-comedy format as SNL, and has recurring without an overarching plot. It is constantly making fun of stereotypes of Portland’s counter-culture.

In the opening skit of season one, Armisen comes back to LA to explain to Brownstein how amazing his trip to Portland was. He ends up using in impromptu music video to show Carrie that Portland is a wonderful place that seems to be stuck in the ‘90s. The opening skit gives the viewer insight on how this whole show is going to work. They are telling everyone that they are going to make fun of the hipster culture of Portland, but love it at the same time.

I used to make fun of hipster stereotypes as much as the next guy, but the truth is: I’m a hipster. I honestly believe anyone who analyzes culture has to be somewhat of a hipster, and that’s what I’m currently doing with this column. It took me a while to finally understand this or even accept it, but with the help of “Portlandia,” I think I’ll be just fine.

Although the show covers many different types of hipster stereotypes, they also make fun of bleeding heart liberals, hard core punk culture, feminists, Portland’s liberal mayor, and anything else you can think of that can be considered somewhat counter-culture.

Of course, “Portlandia” doesn’t believe these stereotypes are bad; it’s just easy to make fun of them by making them extremes. They make fun of Portland’s liberalism by making the mayor a stereotype for liberals. When Armisen and Brownstein walk into his office, he doesn’t have a chair for his desk, instead he uses a yoga ball.

The use of extremes makes the show funny, but at the same time it makes it obviously ridiculous. In one of the recurring skits, Armisen and Brownstein play two women that own a bookstore but they happen to be extreme feminists. They also don’t seem to be able to sell any books because they are the most difficult people on the planet. They deliberately go out of their way to not help any customers. This is, of course, not true about feminists. The extremeness of the show allows it to make fun of many different stereotypes without making a political statement.

The reason I love “Portlandia”—other than that it makes me laugh out loud—is that it’s hipsters making fun of hipsters. The making fun of stereotypes is more of a “look at the ridiculous things we do” instead of a “look at the ridiculous things all hipsters do.” Armisen and Brownstein seem to be fully aware of their hipsterdom, and this has allowed me to realize the same about myself.

There have been several times that I’ve watched “Portlandia” and noticed in sketches that the certain trait of hipster-dom they were making fun of was something I regularly do. There are many things that “Portlandia” has made fun of and its like I’m looking in the mirror realizing who I really am. I’m apart of the counter-culture, much like a lot of college students. I’ve been apart of the hardcore punk scene that is so often made fun of. I’ve been condescending to someone who hasn’t heard of the newest hip band.

Thanks to “Portlandia”, I finally know: I am a hipster, and I belong in Portland.

Read more here: http://www.kansan.com/news/2012/feb/24/lysen-portlandia-teaches-us-/
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