Monday, November 11, 2013

Opinion: Hipsters may have ruined Paris for you, but Paris doesn't care

I see two types of stories about modern Paris life: Stories about how French people love Brooklyn hipster culture, and stories about how Brooklyn hipster culture is ruining Paris.

The latest is of an American in Paris lamenting the gentrification of the Pigalle's loss of its dirty whorehouses, a Sunday Opinion piece in the New York Times by Thomas Chatterton Williams.

I for one find it terribly pretentious for an American to complain about the fact that his naive, romantic desire that charmingly gritty shitholes in Paris remain charmingly gritty shitholes forever may be under threat by the arrival of cool bars and restaurants serving interesting and healthy foods.

He mentions that the bars are packed, so Parisians are obviously happy for a neighborhood full of bordellos to get a bit of a facelift.

I think a lot of tourists and expats fail to realize one thing: The world is not there for you to escape to.

Yes, the homogenization of global culture is something that is happening and is ultimately not that interesting, but Paris doesn't give a damn if it's becoming similar to the neighborhood you left behind in Brooklyn. Paris isn't trying to lure you away from your home with promises of exotic and charmingly gritty shitholes. Paris is just trying to be Paris and to evolve as Parisians want it to evolve.

So sure, hipsters may have ruined Paris FOR YOU because you had hipsters back home, but it doesn't seem like hipsters have ruined Paris for Parisians. And they only ruined it for you because you were applying your own set of ideals that you wanted the city to live up to.

Let Paris be whatever Paris wants to be.

**Full disclosure: I have a French passport, I have lived in Paris, and I don't like Paris. But it's not at all because of the hipsters.