FORT JACKSON, SC – Like thousands of recruits that come through the gates of Fort Jackson every year, Private Eugene Burns never envisioned himself one day joining the Army. Indeed the liberal arts college dropout was quite opposed to the idea of serving until a recent turn of events inspired him to enlist.
“I was always so opposed to war and killing people,” said the new recruit, former war protester, pacifist and retro indie punk rock fan. “I guess I had a change of heart.”
Some may wonder what sets Burns apart from the thousands of other clean shaven camo clad middle-class recruits that fill Fort Jackson.
Drill Sergeant Jason Erickson explained: “As soon as I saw the little shit head I knew exactly what was his problem. Kid's a goddamn hipster! I know Raybans, retro clothes and a condescending attitude when I see it!”
While Burns vigorously denies being a hipster, he has managed to retain his signature Raybans despite being stripped of most other personal accoutrements.
“They're prescription glasses. I suffer from miopnelenoma. It's an eye condition you've probably never heard of before,” he explained with a smug look that grew amid a low groan of contempt from his fellow recruits.
When asked why he finally decided to enlist Private Burns sighed and expressed his personal motivations. “My friends and I loved to complain about how sheep-like and subservient joining the Army was. Bombing shitty third world nations and protesting about it seemed so mainstream. I mean we've been doing shit like that since Vietnam."
"Then it got me thinking how ironic it would be if I did something conformist like joining the Army and serving the oil hungry corporations we despise so much. The chance was too irresistible to turn down and after I talked with a recruiter holed up in a seedy strip mall, I knew I had to do this.”
Some might think his inherently snobby and non-conformist attitude might make Burns ill-suited for the Army. Rather it was quite the opposite as his his Drill Sergeant explained:
“I didn't think he was going to be able to hack it at first, but somehow we have managed to beat proper hygiene, dress and deportment into his thick skull. You could say he has embraced the inherent lack of individuality and kick in the dick experience that Army life can be. Still doesn't change the fact that the kid is a total fucking asshole.”
As the first hipster soldier, Burns has many wondering if this indicates the presence of an ironic underground counter-counter-culture. While the emphasis has long been on individuality and obscurity, it has now become the norm for many in the younger generation. The Army with its old school conservative values and rigid conformity has long been viewed with disdain by the hipster community.
Yet the military now provides a sanctuary for those looking to buck a now mainstream counter culture.
“I joined the Army before it was cool,” Private Burns said.