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Digital underground

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Saul Austerlitz
Globe Correspondent / April 8, 2008

Hipsters get no love. Invoked only to be lambasted, their importance inflated merely so the needle's prick can hurt them all the more, they are the tackle dummies of popular culture.

So it's a pleasant surprise to find a music-video director has come along who is not only a hipster himself, but unashamedly celebrates hipster culture as well. In Mark Fort's video for Jeffrey Lewis's story-song "Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror," the hirsute indie icon goes all "Deliverance" on the boyish Lewis (above) as he rides the subway and dreams of Oldham-esque success.

Fort prefers working with artists like Lewis and Misty's Big Adventure, who share a sweet tooth for songs for and about working-stiff musicians, and his videos delight in music culture's perennial superficiality. MBA lead singer Grandmaster Gareth, prematurely balding and unshaven, is nudged to the sidelines in the video for "Fashion Parade," his song taken over by Franz Ferdinand look-alikes. Lewis's "Posters" shows the singer romping through the streets of Williamsburg, plastering walls, cars, and passing pets with posters for his upcoming show, only to discover the next day that the posters have vanished.

In music, it's all about how you look, and music videos have only furthered this unfortunate confluence of eye and ear. But one music-video director, at least, is fighting the good fight - for the good name of unwashed hipsters and against the fashion parade.

All videos available at fortmarkfilms.com.

Saul Austerlitz is the author of "Money for Nothing: A History of the Music Video From the Beatles to the White Stripes."

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