Someone Has to Say It: We’re all hipsters here.

hipsterdom!Hipster. It’s not a new word. This word actually came around in the 1940’s to describe the popular crowd that knew everything there was to know about Jazz culture. Now that isn’t so negative, is it? Unfortunately time changes many things and the definition of this word is one of them. The word “hipster” can now be so derogatory that there are literally websites popping up like diehipster.com which fantasizes elaborate beatings of hipsters. Websites like this are classified under the First Ammendment…an Ammendment I oh so love and oh so hate all at the same time. It must be true love.

So before I go on about prejudice and violence, let’s try to define the hipster. Anyone can tell you that this is a nearly impossible task and even quite a few of the people I approached just stammered until they said, “tight jeans!” However, I wanted to delve a little bit deeper into the modern presumed definition of the hipster culture just so I could find out how many of us really are hipsters. Turns out that we all have a little bit hipster in us. Here’s a small list:

  • Clothing: Thick glasses, tight jeans, t-shirts, thrift store shopping
  • Lifestyle: Bicycles, photography, pseudo-European, coffee drinkers, bookstore lackies, computer nerds
  • Age: 20-35 who can’t get past the nostalgia of their childhood (Transformers, Comics, etc)
  • Attitude: Dismissive pretentiousness, smug, obsessed with counter-culture, irony complex
  • Entertainment: Cult films, indie rock, NPR
  • Consumption: Pabst Blue Ribbon, Organic and local food
  • History: Suburban white kids who think they had it hard, or maybe not. Just suburban white kids.

And the following list is from my one conservative Republican friend who absolutely abhors hipsters but for some reason has loved me to death for years, Greg Grockenberger.

  • Aversion to productive endeavor
  • Crimes against aesthetics
  • Music and art they scour the rubbish bins for. The reason this music is obscure is because it’s crap.

Okay, so there are some hipster definitions. In the end most people gave up and admitted that it was really hard to define. People seem to use the phrase on a certain age group that they just don’t want to deal with or don’t want to give time to understand. Sure there are scene kids who go to the extremes, but are they the real hipsters? Perhaps we are the real hipsters and they are trying to be like us. Metahipsterism. How many of us have those qualities? I know all my friends do and most of them outright deny being hipsters. But I love them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having hipster qualities.

Krog St Tunnel, (c) Elly Winstead

This graffiti embodies the essence of hipsterdom

Someone actually referred to hipsters as the “dead end of Western civilization.” That’s a little extreme considering us hipsters will likely be taking care of said person when they are old and feeble. We’ll see who is a dead end here. I have to strongly disagree with this statement. I know hipster-like friends who are extremely productive, working at companies like Google, Apple, Netflix. They are the future, not the dead end. Anyone can agree with this.

One thing I noticed in asking all my friends what they thought a hipster was, not a single one of them said they were unintelligent. I think many of them are the minds of our future generations. Some of them are our future Bukowskis and even if you think Bukowski was scum he did amazing things for poetry and literature. I would like to share some quotes from books and articles on what I see are extremely accurate views of hipsters:

In his book  The White Negro,” Norman Mailer characterized hipsters as American existentialists, living a life surrounded by death — annihilated by atomic war or strangled by social conformity — and electing instead to “divorce [themselves] from society, to exist without roots, to set out on that uncharted journey into the rebellious imperatives of the self.”

This, to me, leads me to believe that the hipster culture is a culture of discovery of the self and how we may advance in the world we are given.

Hipsterism fetishizes the authentic” elements of all of the “fringe movements of the postwar era—beat, hippie, punk, even grunge,” and draws on the “cultural stores of every unmelted ethnicity,” and “regurgitates it with a winking inauthenticity.”

-Christian Lorentzen

As much as I admire this writer’s vernacular, why all the animosity? Regurgitate? What about inspired by? Yes, hipsters do enjoy recreating old styles but with every era style and fashion has been created based on what existed in the past. Time repeats itself. Why is it so bad that it is repeating itself this time?

Stop and think about it. Look at all these qualities. Couldn’t they also be applied to geeks and nerds? Isn’t this a general term to apply to all semi-forward people between 18-40? Anyone who is urban and not blue-collar? Quit with the hate. You’re probably a tad bit of a hipster yourself.

I’d like to close this off with my mom’s definition of a hipster. My mother lives in a very small town, the same town I grew up in, where there are no hipsters but only hippies. Out of all the hipster definitions I heard, I think my mother hit the nail on the head. Thanks mom. You’re the best.

Hi,  I did not google this to get a definition so this is what I have in my mind.
I would say a hipster is someone age 20 to 30 that lives in the city or wants too…and is up the latest styles, fads, things to do, places to go.  Some people would look at a hipster for information  while others would think it is a bad thing, that these people are shallow and want to be seen and heard ahead of others.  I sometimes think hipsters are out to get exactly what they want but they don’t seem to mind working for it or getting it the best way  they can . They have their on  style and don’t give any excuses for it except if you don’t like it don’t look at me….  I also think these persons can put material possessions over practical  situations and their feelings over others , but not always because it depends on the person..  I would have to say, about me, if I were young I would probably be one!

-Jeanette Awtrey, 2011


Other contributors:

-Jes Gearing of http://www.eatingappalachia.com/
-Sean Flynn of http://www.seanflynnphotography.com/
-Amy DuBoff
-Soni Powell
-Drew Dubois
-Gregory Davis
-Greg Grockenberger
-Amy Manlapas http://amy-elizabeth.net

~ by ellyvstheworld on 07/28/2011.

12 Responses to “Someone Has to Say It: We’re all hipsters here.”

  1. Dude, your mom nailed it. It’s become a blanket term for anyone who is (or aspires to be) a young city-dweller who enjoys participating in youth culture. There are guidelines, but they’re so loose that they don’t really mean anything. Could refer to the ol’ ATL style dirty south hipster with full sleeve tats, cutoffs, fixed gear bike and lousy job, or all the way up to the immaculately manicured folks that have tons of and time and money to spend perfecting their look.

  2. In the most generic way, I find hipsters to be people who are striving to be something that they are not innately. Maybe it’s a bit like wanting to be part of the crowd or the bigger picture. The end result is quite different depending on the time you are currently living in and I think every generation has them. Sometimes they’re a more vocal group of people and sometimes they’re a bit on the reserved side. I think subcultures have their own set of hipsters as well.

    I think that I never really I’ve ever been a hipster or at least I haven’t intentionally. The only time I actually merged with was considered hip was during the grunge era. I think it was more like fashion collided with my own personal style.

    Sometimes I feel that hipsters do what they do as a way of making communication easier with their own generation. I suppose it could also be an somewhat older person who is trying to be a part of a younger crowd. Either way, I don’t think most people stay a hipster forever. We eventually find out who we are and enjoy that part of life.

    • I fell like a lot of the times a person can find their truth path but still be labeled as a hipster because of what that path is, how they look, where they live, what they enjoy in their free time. Say a programmer found his dream job but still loves riding his fixed gear bike. He’s found himself but he is still labeled as a hipster. This is part of my argument about why it’s not actually all that bad to have hipster qualities; those qualities don’t make you less of a person.

  3. The path that the word Hipster has taken reminds me a bit of the path that Otaku has taken. Though I don’t know if American audiences are too familiar with that word yet.

    “There is absolutely nothing wrong with having hipster qualities.” I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Being a hipster is like diagnosing a disease. It’s not a checklist to follow, but a certain number of symptoms have to be present that my not be present in all hipsters.

    I love the analytical and thoughtful nature of this article. If you choose, I think you can take this article further by expanding the scope by a few generations.

    Look at how the older generations viewed the incoming generation several times throughout history. You might be surprised to see a repeating sense of that anamosity. Hippies, hipsters, Generation X, take your pick. It seems like it was always there, just never laid out in black and white on a timeline. So much time has passed that people might just not notice when and where the changes occur. Something to think about.

    • It does astound me how many anime fans will scream out how they are “OTAKU!”. Go to Japan and do that, and see how many people back away slowly. It is not a nice term. Though I guess America took this term and did the opposite of what happened to “hipster”, make a bad term a not-so-bad-term (like how we use geek, or at least how we view geek).

      Times change, and daily culture changes. Geeks are now cool, as are gamers, anime-fans, etc. Really my only issue is with “hipsters” who, among the multitude of “hipster qualities” that they possess, put their attitude and pretentiousness above any other characteristic. I’ve met a bunch of people I’d classify as “hipster” who don’t like fixed bikes, don’t wear scarves in the summer, don’t wear silly big emo glasses, etc. However, they do think that their shit smells better than yours, and they’re right about absolutely everything. THAT is what bothers me about the hipster subculture.

      Personally, the fashion, interests, and almost everything else I actually kind of like. I like vintage stuff, I like thrift stores, and I’m perfectly okay with these getting more popular.

      It’s that attitude I want to go away. (That and wearing a style of clothes for the SAKE of being a “hipster”, not because they actually like the style. I’ve met those too.)

    • i really wanted to do something like that, but the article got rather long for a blog post as it is. I might tackle it in the future while I do more research, though!

  4. Great Read! You have such a unique observation of life and its surroundings!

  5. Hey hon! You can link my defunct blog – amy-elizabeth.net I swear I’m going to post things!

  6. Thank you for this thoughtful post. Everywhere on the internet people are talking about how “hipsters are ruining our society”, but despite reading definitions of the word a few times I still can’t understand it.

    Now that I look up the symptoms of a hipster, I actually realize that I have most of them. And it’s incredible because I still don’t understand why doing those things would attract hate at all.

    Once you get to bottom of it, you’ll realize that the hate of hipsters is just another way for society to push individuals to conform.

    Apparently if someone listen to obscure bands and not mainstream music, in a way he/she’s a hipster and therefore annoying/destroying our society. Mainstream music is largely shit. That’s a fact. Large labels produce artists like canned food and stuff them down our ears like plagues by giving a lot of money to radios to play their songs and promotion, something that indie/alternative artists can’t do. If a song gets a lot of sales, the industry will ask for artists to reproduce at least 10 times and give it 10 other names and the crowd will still eat it up.

    Those bands are not obscure because they’re crap. It’s because they’re obscure that they have a shot at being great. Without the pressure to carter to the crowd, they can treat their music as an individual creation with honest thoughts and intimate emotions.

    I don’t think in any way that listening to bad music makes you an inferior person. I just believe that most people deserve exposure to better artists. In fact I introduce a lot of my favorite artists to my friends and let them expose me to music I wouldn’t have looked up otherwise.

    The weird thing is I knew a lot of people on a music forum that have do most of these hipster stuffs. They listen to underground music, make fun of dudes in baggy jeans, wear quirky clothes, love comics. But the majority of them are actually African Americans.
    Bottom line is hating someone for the stuff they listen to, dress in, read about, use as a transportation etc is banal. That’s bigotry actually perceived in many places as the cool thing to do.
    Whatever. I’m a hipster, and I do what I want.

    • I agree with you 100%. The music does not sound like it came out of a factory. I don’t even listen to much music these days (addicted to books on tape) but just from the cds/mp3s I have, someone would definitely call me a hipster solely based on my musical tastes. Liking indie isn’t bad. It shows you have a deeper appreciation for music because you go out of your way to find it. And indie isn’t just indie rock. There is indie jazz, indie rap, indie everything. Some of it is shit and some of it is completely awesome.

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