Beards, thick-framed glasses, plaid, only wearing ironic hats, irony, saying you’re not but knowing you are cool, having an unexplained shaved-side haircut, wearing pants that fell out of style because they looked terrible on people, shopping at thrift stores, obnoxiously patterned flower dresses, flexitarianism, refined taste in shitty music, fixed gear bicycles (with brakes), disappointment, enthusiasm for disappointing things, blue collar habits juxtaposing high art tastes, being a portfolioless artist, liking hip-hop so as not to appear racist… These are some of the things one could attribute to being a “Hipster”.
When I first presented the idea of writing a piece about hipsters to some of the other Provocative Penguins, the average reaction I got was “Seamus, do not write about hipsters. It’s been way over done! I’m so fucking sick of fucking hipsters.” But why? Why can’t I write about hipsters? Sure, ADBUSTERS did a very thorough job of nailing the scene on the head back while it was at it’s “prime” in 2008, but does that mean there’s nothing left to say? Or maybe it’s a conspiracy. There is a cult of megalomaniac, trend-setting monkeys who don’t want us to talk about Hipsters as pointing something out makes it uncool and they aren’t ready to launch the next terribly misguided fad yet.
Whatever the reason may be, there is an overwhelming stigma both in talking about hipsters (for more than ten seconds) and particularly in labelling someone as one. No one wants to be called “Hipster”. Even though the culture itself is based around appreciating the arts and having “forward” fashion tastes, it is a very abrasive thing to say to someone. It could be that many who would surely be classified as “Hipster” a) look ridiculous b) are gratingly pretentious and/or c) try too hard to look like they don’t care. I mean, who would want to be associated with such things?
The term itself has been around since the 40s. Initially it was used to label “Cool Cats”, “Beboppers” and other jazzy scenesters. While it didn’t disappear after that, it wasn’t applied to a specific group of people again until sometime in the last decade. And it kind of came out of nowhere. The initial batch seemed like a blend of Indie-Rockers, Emos and Serious Nerds. Now, it’s pretty much everyone. The societal obsession with what seemed like a small group of people has flourished to such a point that even places like Sears dress people up in thick-framed glasses to advertise their ware. Do you ride a bike? You’re a hipster. Do you go to concerts in bars? You’re a hipster. Have you ever had a piercing or dyed your hair? You’re a hipster. Do you breathe? Guess what, you’re a fucking hipster. Yes, that’s right, I said it. You are a hipster.
Every one of you goddamn culture-loving, book-reading, plaid-wearing, cynical bastards is a Hipster. It’s unavoidable. The term has become so broadly applied to people who live/enjoy life that as long as you are not someone who sits at home watching TV all day, never leaving the comfort of your living room except to go upstairs and masturbate, then you are one. Admit it.
So, one would think that this broad application of the term would make me, Seamus Gearin, a hipster. Although, that’s not the case. I am the exception to the rule, of course. I was wearing thick-framed glasses ironically way back in ’02 before hipster culture became a “thing”.