Trend-Hunters Scooped on Hunting Trend

The New York Times Styles section gets beaten on some cutting-edge trend news from its own back yard.

Perhaps it’s time for the New York Times once-arch Styles section to consider just running wire copy.

Today, while the trend-spotters at Thursday Styles brought us stale stories like “Parents Sometimes Play Matchmaker for Their Kids” and “Yoga Mats Are Full of Fungus,” the frumpy old Associated Press broke a bit of a cutting-edge trend news right in the Times’ back yard.

“Hunting ‘Hip’ in Gotham,” reports the AP’s Adam Goldman (non-abridged version here). Goldman’s copy, too, is nearly Styles-ready — take, for example, the lead: “Alexandra Broseus grabs a shotgun, lifts it to her slender shoulder, pumps and readies her aim. Seconds later she’s firing furiously at animated deer darting across a video game screen inside Horseshoe, a popular Manhattan bar. When the shooting ends and the adrenaline wanes, Miss Broseus — wearing a zebra-striped dress — brings the plastic barrel to her lips, blows the imaginary smoke into the air and reaches for a nearby can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.”

And the nut of the piece? “Thanks to youthful urbanites, such as Miss Broseus, the coin-operated Big Buck Hunter Pro has evolved into the hottest-selling, biggest-moneymaking video game in bars and arcades across the country. And it’s surprisingly popular in liberal bastions with strict gun laws such as New York City.” They’re right there, in the East Village, apparently drinking beer from Milwaukee and firing faux firearms at virtual wildlife. How could you have missed this, Styles?

Of course, AP being AP — in academia they call this phenomenon “regression to the mean” — the story isn’t quite up to Styles’ snuff. For example, the AP’s Goldman fails to truly explore why this game appeals to “youthful urbanites,” apart from quoting the “youthful urbanite” introduced in the story’s lead. (“It’s the whole thing of going out and hunting in the city. Part of the appeal of New York is going out and doing anything. In the same night you can go hunting and smoke a hookah.”)

Goldman also quotes the startled president of the company that designs Big Buck Hunter, who’s puzzled himself by its popularity in unexpected quarters: “It’s very strange … There’s some kind of hipness to it.”

Styles, of course, would have included insights from at least one or two “experts” identifying the root cause of the game’s “hipness,” perhaps even unearthing an academic who has done a study on Hipsters Who Hunt.

Still, a scoop is a scoop. So, how might the Times’ Stylesters advance this story and redeem their hipless selves?

Here’s a Timesian idea: “Hipsters Who Hunt: The Swing Voters for 2008.”

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.