Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hipster Hate?


A friend and I were recently discussing our taste in men when she announced that she knew someone I might like - M.A. from Pratt, mutton-chops, forearm tattoo, has a noun for a middle name, wears skinny jeans. A real hipster, she said. Just the kind of guy that I would like, she said. Because I was such a hipster, she said.

What followed was one of those double-take, blinkblinkblink responses you have when someone tells you something about yourself that you are totally, 100% unaware of.

Am I a hipster? Let's examine the (circumstantial) evidence:
1) I have a liberal arts degree
2) I wear skinny-ish jeans
3) I know who Yeasayer, Phoenix, Animal Collective are.
4) I own religious paraphernalia though I am not religious
5) I know people who are in bands/play ultimate frisbee/are earning PhDs
6) I thrift. Compulsively.
7) I have dated men that weighed (almost) the same as me
8) I have a blog
9) I deny being a hipster

Am I a hipster? Does it matter if I am? Why was I so shocked and appalled when she told me that I was?

The internet is thick with hipster hate these days. Witness the blog unhappy hipsters. Or hipster puppies. Or look at this f*cking hipster. Why is it so much fun - and so socially acceptable - to hate on this particular group of people?

Because I like to believe I don't know any hipsters (or anybody that will admit to being a hipster) I had to consult everybody's favorite reference, Urban Dictionary. There are multiple entries for 'hipster' but many entries tie into the belief that hipsters are "cooler than you," overly ironic and live off their parents' money because they can't find a job with their useless arts degree.

So let's just say, for the sake of argument, that all of the above are true and that hipsters are condescending, lazy and refuse to approach anything in life with sincerity. That certainly paints an unappealing picture.

Does that make it okay for us to hate on them?
And why exactly are we hating on them? Because they hated on us first for liking Ke$ha? Because they think going to the state fair is 'ironic' and we really, genuinely love it? Because they've got heaps of disposable income from crashing with the 'rents while we're just scraping by?

And when does it become socially acceptable to mock a group of people? When you are of the same race and socio economic group as them? When they've made active choices to pursue a specific lifestyle - rather than being forced into a lifestyle by poverty, etc? When this group has been given all the advantages of North American life and somehow seemed to screw it up?

I'd love to hear what you think! Is 'hipster' a dirty word? How do you feel about them? What do you think are the qualities of a hipster?

31 comments

  1. I would go for people who fulfil the criteria above but will follow religiously any new indie trend despite them often being very stupid. The sort of people who would buy the band t-shirt before the album and go to certain events just to be seen...you know what I mean

    I fulfil all the criteria in your post, but would never consider myself to be a hipster because I don't give a shit about these things.

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  2. I live in Williamsburg, which is like the Mecca of hipsters in New York, so I'm going to weigh in heavily on this issue. Originally, hipsters were essentially our version of a generation who lived alternative lifestyles, much like people who once flocked to the East Village. Once it became too expensive to survive in the East Village as an artist anymore, they started pushing their way into more gentrified areas in Brooklyn. These people were definitely not living off of their parents money, they were broke artists in NYC, hence why they moved to these formerly dangerous neighborhoods in order to pay rent. Eventually, a new wave of "rich" hipsters followed, people who DO have trust funds and do absolutely nothing, and thus raised the costs of living in the area and created the stereotype of lazy hipsters who do nothing. Do some hipsters live off of their parents money? Yes. But most don't. Most work a few service jobs & are pursuing another dream, such as art, on the side.

    I'm not a hipster (even if I do listen to the music associated with this label and have a liberal arts degree), I live in this area because it's youthful and energetic and has amazing restaurants with attention to local and environmental concerns-- something hipsters actually do a great job of demanding. I find "hipsters" to actually be a diverse and dynamic group of people who are usually really nice and laid back. I think equating them with all of the same characteristics and qualities is pretty unfair. Sure, some of them do what they do for the sake of being ironic. But I think most people are just kind of finding a niche where they feel like they belong, and I think that is totally okay.

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  3. LOL! Your reasons for your qualifying as a hipster are great. I've always thought of you as kind of a hipster, but not in the annoying hated on way, but the cute and funky and aware of good music kind of way.

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  4. Never heard of the term... and yes folks tend to attach names ... it all comes down to being ignorant, low self esteem... groups of people feel empowered to say or do when they are in groups... the more the merrier so to speak. either its political groups, groups that are racist, religious fanatics, homo phobes...also people in groups have a feeling of control...Sad isn't it? I wonder how powerful they are if they spoke out on their own??

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  5. Ayesha, awesome points about hipsters--love what you said about them demanding things like environmental causes. I think it's hipster poseurs that we really hate, not hipsters themselves.

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  6. None of the hipster hate blog links work ;)
    I have no idea what I am either, I should consider being a hipster then!

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  7. Eeek! According to the nine requirements, I am a hipster. I have never considered myself a hipster, but I also live in small town where subculture groups are usually grouped together and label "different".
    I do not live off my parents, I barely make ends meet using my sad design degree, but I do blog and wear skinny jeans.
    Whether we admit it or not, humans want to belong and long for validation. Perhaps, association with a particular lifestyle is the simplest form of belonging. Some people are completely comfortable with labels and enjoy their label association. We label people every day, we judge people on first impressions. But, when we take the time to get to know someone, we are able to drop the labels and recognize their talents and traits.
    Am I a hipster? Possibly at first glance.

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  8. HA! I remember being horrified years ago when someone described me as "so boho."

    A few people embrace a philosophy and style of dress, then thousands of other young people imitate them, and adults mock them all.

    See also flappers, beatniks, hippies, goths, bobby-soxers, valley girls...

    Personally, I associate "hipsters" with conformity and the kind of silliness Andrea mentioned--- but then, most adolescents are obsessed with appearances; how can they help it? Maybe people dislike hipsters for seeming like overgrown teenagers?

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  9. I fulfill all your criteria for being a hipster, but have never considered myself one! Perhaps I am. Although I have exceedingly corny and mainstream taste in music, which might rule me out. I think hipster-dom, like any trend, takes qualities from a newly-emerging social group and runs with them to the point of ridiculousness. I like to think I'm not quite at the ridiculous stage yet.

    Andrea x

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  10. It's so hard to define hipster-ism these days for the very fact that a lot of its looks and sounds have gone mainstream. If I wear buffalo plaid, skinny jeans and listen to Grizzly Bear, does that make me a hipster or just someone who shops at UO? (They've gotten clever with repackaging.)

    My problem with hipster culture is that it's so void of meaning. Hippies and punks at least had political agendas. Here's a good article from Adbusters 2008:

    https://www.adbusters.org/magazine/79/hipster.html

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  11. I think I'm a little bit hipster but I wouldn't call myself a total hipster. haha. Its funny how its something people think is cool but their main thing is they don't want to have a label.

    have you seen this hipster commercial - hilarious

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5dIzY7yvRA&feature=player_embedded

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  12. I always wanted to be a hipster which precludes me from being one I think... aren't you supposed to not *want* to be a hipster before you're allowed to be one?

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  13. Oh.my.God. I'm a f#$@ing hipster. I had no idea, but I fit every single one of the criterion you listed. I thought I was just me, sort of a loner, lost soul, artsy writer. I'm a f#$@ing hipster. Is there a support group for this? I don't want to change anything about myself, but I do need some help accepting this. It's a lot to take in. I'm a f#$@ing hipster.

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  14. I always have to remember to laugh at the whole hipster and so called "indie" movement. Like, All of a sudden, Indie has a clothing style, and specific bands and things you do... It's kind of become a lifestyle now- but INDIE was originally music that came off of an INDEPENDENT label... so if Indie means Independent, then doesn't really anything qualify as being Indie?
    Now we've categorized it into bulleted criteria like what you have on your post!
    It always makes me laugh how it's progressed!

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  15. "Individualism is rather like innocence; there must be something unconscious about it." --Louis Kronenberger

    Twenty years from now, people will look at pictures of you and your hipster-ness will be even more evident. I'm sure that many people in the 60s fervently denied being hippies as well - as they lived out the very definition of "hippies." I choose to embrace this generation and all the quirky fun that comes with it. It's only when someone tries to hard to fit into a category that it becomes annoying. If you're not trying for it and other people notice it -- and then you do as well -- there's no negativity in it or need to hate.

    So yes, Sarah, I believe you are absolutely, 100%, indeed a hipster! And it's awesome. :)

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  16. Interesting article along the same line:

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/extreme-fear/201009/the-sad-science-hipsterism

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  17. I think I'm like 30% hipster.

    http://novarella.blogspot.com/2010/09/holy-shit-am-i-hipster.html

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  18. Oh, I'm not fond of generalizing. For me, I'm Karolina and I don't consider myself anything based on the fact that I sometimes wear skinny trousers and that I like indie rock and design (and I'm studying for a liberal arts degree).

    If your friend thought you are a hipster - that must mean hipsters are cool;) You just live your life independently - maybe that what she saw first!

    I know a lot of people who could be called hipsters - one of them is a guy who wears skinny jeans and thick-rimmed glasses, but he's doing a B.A. in biotechnology!

    As mentioned above, I think just those pretentious pseudo-ironic snobs are annoying, whatever we call them.

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  19. I like cool shit (including, but not limited to, thrift store shopping, band t-shirts, my liberal arts degree, cheap booze, cats, et cetera.) If that makes me a hipster, fine.

    Personally, I think it's totally fine to mock an entire group of people for the way they dress and the music they like. What on Earth would I do with my time if I couldn't make fun of Juggalos?!

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  20. JessicaLovejoy9/28/10, 1:50 PM

    And when does it become socially acceptable to mock a group of people?

    When every other picture of them (even the one you posted!) has them cheerfully doing stooooopid things like wearing an ~exotic~ headdress or feathers when those things are not accessories.

    http://mycultureisnotatrend.tumblr.com/

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  21. personally, i think that "hipsters" is more like a definition of young people in our age, and that is how we are going to look at it when we look back. like everyone was a hippie in the 60s, everyone is a hipster in the 10s.

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  22. I pretty much fit every stereotype of a hipster but am also one of the most impassioned and sincere people you'll ever meet-- to the point it is also a fault. I would say that regardless of how you feel about stereotypes or hipsters, what point is there in hating, really? I try to think this when I encounter people with different values and when criticized. I think yuppie and hipster are all relative terms and you can waste your time flinging buzz words around to make yourself feel better about your own insecurities, or you can get out into the world and just do the things you love, even if it includes wearing skinny jeans, using a diana mini and collecting indie records (I do 2 out of 3).

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  23. Sarah V, I don't think you're a hipster. You're like me in that you often display hipster qualities, but not quite enough to be a full blown hipster, I think? Oh and I find some hipster boys attractive.

    Major point against me? I ride a vintage bike around the city. Shit.

    You should make a list of reasons you're not a hipster, too! My list would go something like:
    - My glasses are not huge ironic frames. They are functional and cute.
    - I have some serious love for trashy pop culture (see, Shortland St (did you watch that when you were here!?), NZ Next Top Model, Taylor Swift and so on). Not at all ironically.

    ...there's more, I promise, just can't think of it now.

    I also had a moment when someone told me that I'm a hipster and I was all "Whhhuuurrt??"

    Oh well. Perhaps I'm just a Hipsterette. Hipsterish? Hm.

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  24. I went and read the ADBUSTER article/ comments generated and found it interesting but defeating. It was generalizing and awfully pessimistic. Why should we categorize people? I know it is an easy thing to do and I recognize identity is important. For me it seems the easy way out, (I am guilty of bias as are we all) but it is important to recognize that every persons lived experience is different.

    If a person chooses to follow a 'fashion trend' (of which hipster I think is definitionally...it is a way one presents themself)it is not indicative of what their personality is, their goals, dreams, aspirations...

    I found ADBUSTERS emphasized material excess and consumerism as a defining quality. 'Hipster' or otherwise is this not the malady that plagues people in present day (especially in developed Western cultures?)

    Sarah, although you like things that fit into this oversimplistic stereotype you do not conform to it. You are not an "apathetic, neon-wearing party animal" as typified by this article/ urban dictionary!


    -H

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  25. Sarah,
    I was born and raised in Portland Oregon, which has to be one of the top ten hipster cities in the country. Top five, probably. Anyway, I watched over the last 25+ years my city changing and growing in ways I never could have imagined. And I have gathered a LOT of opinions about hipsters.

    The original hipsters who came to our city turned abandoned warehouses into apartment lofts, turned ghetto streets into cool trendy shopping areas, and introduced good coffee. The second wave of hipsters overly-gentrified all of the neighborhoods, opened up a few too many food carts, and... this is important... stopped working towards anything. See the difference is that the original wave of hipsters helped build up our city. They made it awesome, and then they left to make other places awesome.

    The current hipsters are, and I'm super-over-generalizing, not doing much to help our city. Many have food service jobs and are artists, or students. And frankly that's fine, I need people to bring me my breakfast when I go out to eat. But there's something weird about college educated people sweeping up my crumbs in a city that has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

    I appreciate culture, environmentalism, and thriving local businesses. For that, I am thankful to what the hipsters did to my hometown. But what I can't appreciate is a city that is so caught up in being anti- everything that it struggles to survive. Ultimately, this is why I left Portland. I'd love to go back some day, it's an amazing city. But I met one too many young people who moved there without a job because they "heard it was cool."

    But you're right... hipster bashing is no more acceptable than any other type of bashing. :)

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  26. I had a similar reaction when I came into work yesterday wearing my adorable gray beret ($6 at H&M thank you kindly!) and a coworker exclaimed, "Nice hipster hat." Silence, blinkblinkblink. I, too, wear skinny jeans and love Animal Collective. I live in Chuck Taylors. While I don't necessarily consider myself a hipster, I suppose I often dress like one. I am choosing to read 'hipster' in terms of fashion, not as a lifestyle target. If the beret fits!

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  27. I don't hate hipsters... but what I do hate is when hipsters (or anyone, really!) wears sacred Native American headdresses for fashion purposes.

    Please check out:
    http://mycultureisnotatrend.tumblr.com/

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  28. Haha! I have heard the term but never really knew what it meant before. I probably qualify, at least in some ways, although I hope I NEVER have to move back in with my parents!

    I feel hypocritical saying anything about the mocking of a group of people, though, because like you mentioned, I totally hate on (silently or otherwise) people who like Ke$ha...or, for that matter, Twilight...or celebrity gossip...I could list more but I won't. Obviously it doesn't feel great when people make fun of the fact that I don't eat meat, I shop at Goodwill to avoid shopping corporate, and am currently pursuing a music degree...but I suppose I can't blame them because I do it right back. Maybe we all just need to stop hating.

    Awesome post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

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  29. I do think for all of the reasons you mentioned:

    "-When you are of the same race and socio economic group as them
    - they've made active choices to pursue a specific lifestyle - rather than being forced into a lifestyle by poverty, etc
    - When this group has been given all the advantages of North American life and somehow seemed to screw it up"

    to be the reasons I would use to justify the mockery.

    *********

    But it's difficult to say because the parameters that would make you consider someone a hipster really tell you nothing about them.

    I think the apathy and free-ride issue is the biggest one I have, but I have that with all subcultures (*cough* punk kids who had their moms sew their patches on and got allowances as they slummed it at ABC No Rio).

    I think I would get mostly bummed with the people who are so invested in the "scene" for scene's sake rather than any platform for change a scene would stand for.

    Mostly what happens when I think about hipsters is I hate the amorphous ones I don't know well who don't DO anything (so I avoid knowing them) but I like the ones I know and who do DO things.

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  30. Thanks for this. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who still didn't know (or care!) what the term 'hipster' was even supposed to mean! Why does it matter to people? This is no different from any other kind of discrimination, and it's so damn weird, because the anti-hipsters are the ones who invented the label. How can you hate on a so-called group of people that didn't exist before you invented them?

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  31. someone just labeled me "hipster" for wearing a military beret and tenis shoes at the same time while I was having a drink in a retro pub where you can listen to Portishead and Bob Dylan. So what ? The next day I was a rocker wearing boots and leather at a rock concert. People like to label people. And "hipster" is a bad label for those who are sensitive to art and deny consumerist bullshit.

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