Yukk! Keep me away from Yuccies, pur-leaze

Yuccies – cherish ‘craft’ beer and ‘artisanal’ food, like ‘authentic’ holiday destinations – are hipster versions of yuppies: they want personal success and financial gain while keeping their ‘creative autonomy’. They’re just victims of clever marketing

 

The man is front of me is ordering “Indian street food” – which is fine, but we’re in Clonskeagh, for God’s sake – and the woman behind me wants to know what kale is. I tell her it is middle-class cabbage and get a look for my troubles.

An email pings into my phone to inform me that a certain music festival “has committed to Fairtrade policy as part of its sustainability ethos”. This is wonderful news, but I thought the point of a music festival was to get drunk and laid and listen to bad music.

In shops the term “artisanal” has started to appear beside everyday food. As with the term “natural”, this means absolutely nothing. It is a marketing ploy to lure deluded aspirational types.

Off-licences have walls of “craft” beer. Does that word mean anything besides “tastes like muck and is twice the price of ordinary decent beer”? One of the craft beers tastes of chocolate; another has “hints of grapefruit”.

These are “Bold and Exotic” choices, a sign explains. Fine, but my idea of bold and exotic runs a bit further than sitting at home drinking beer that smells of grapefruit. I scan the shelves for beer-flavoured beer.

The pizza place boasts about its wood-fired oven. I couldn’t care less. The restaurant has “pan-fried chicken”. As Bill Bailey says, as opposed to what? Frying it in a bucket?

The cheeses are “local”. Fantastic, but when did Baggot Street become a notable cheese-making area?

A sign outside advertises an upcoming “farmer’s market”. I hope they hit the jackpot and sell all their artisanal-kale-flavoured craft beer.

Authentic or die. From music to furniture to food to drink to holiday destinations to clothes to career choices to friendships, the chase for the real and meaningful – in retail terms, organic and artisanal – is a millennial-era fetish in which never have so many been manipulated so much by so few.

In his brilliant Authenticity Is a Con, his latest book, Peter York has drawn a sustainable line in the organic sand by pointing out that “authenticity” implies “truthfulness with no uncomfortable requirement for facts”.

“I have found it’s a word you tend to hear from people who have something to sell. It is the favourite word of shysters and chancers; of motivational speakers and life coaches,” he writes.

As a quasi-religious concept authenticity goes after them young, or at least once they are old enough to vote and to spend. It feasted as a marketing virus on those who were once known as hipsters – last seen in Dublin in the killing fields of South William Street.

They ate authentic kale, drank authentic craft beers, were repulsed by anything mainstream and had a sense of entitlement never before exhibited – until they looked around one day and realised they were broke and unemployable.

They have been replaced by a new strain known, according to Mashable, the website that coined the term, as the yuccie – which, distressingly, is short for young urban creative.

Buffeted by recessionary winds, the yuccie is a hipster version of the yuppie – someone who wants personal success and financial gain while preserving their “creative autonomy”. Or, as David Infante has it on Mashable, “a slice of Generation Y, borne of suburban comfort, indoctrinated with the transcendent power of education, and infected by the conviction that not only do we deserve to pursue our dreams; we should profit from them”.

Not so much “greed is good” as “making money from creative enterprises is good”. But they remain as susceptible as their preposterous predecessors to specious notions of authenticity.

It is not as if this was some quixotic ideal, a search for meaning in a world of artifice. Authenticity has become a marketable commodity, trying to displace Fairtrade at the tills with something designed not even to make you feel good about yourself, but only to make you feel more refined and discerning in your lifestyle choices than the “many too many”.

Worry not, though: as is the way of these things, we’re due to go “postauthentic” sometime in the next 18 months.

In the meantime take solace from David Bowie’s dictum that the only way to succeed is to be authentically inauthentic.