In Defense of the Hipster
Why there’s nothing wrong with hipsterism
Craft beer, independent coffee, analog vinyl, arty tattoos, thick glasses, fixed-gear bikes, facial hair and vintage clothes. These are the elements in which signal the quintessential Hipster who undeservingly paints him or herself as the target of ridicule as of late. However, by understanding the Hipster beneath the surface, it can be argued that the Hipster is in fact utterly mistreated, and we’re all a bit Hipster ourselves.
According to Urban Dictionary, “Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.”
In short, Hipsters can be considered a demographical faction simply characterized as those who defy the norms of today’s mainstream and champion many of the norms from the past.
“Hipsters catch a really bad rap,” claims Mike Rugnetta of PBS Idea Channel. It’s true when you consider the reasoning behind the backlash of hipsterism, which is so abrasive that it’s quite difficult to even find someone who proudly self-identifies as one.
Hipsterism, unlike other counter or sub-culture groups, is often criticized due the members’ “cultural appropriation”, or the act of adopting and using the elements of another’s culture. What makes this frustrating for many is the notion that hipsters don’t “own” the culture they are taking from, which consequentially paints them as dishonest or deceitful. Hipsters support a culture, which in a sense really isn’t theirs to own. This is where the “irony” comes in. Consequentially, this makes the Hipsters’ own “culture” feel inauthentic or fraudulent.
It is this perceived act of stealing that makes those originally from the culture being “stolen” from feel derided or even mocked. Even bystanding members to these pioneering cultures can feel taken advantage of. It can be questioned, “Who are these people to think, talk, dress and listen to music like me, who generationally speaking aren’t “me?” Hipsterism can often feel like a taunt or abstract mugging, implicitly devaluing the artifacts of the past, simultaneously altering the memory, identity and self-worth of individuals who were apart of a hijacked culture.
Hipsters as a collective, which are argued to have consumerist tendencies, unlike the phonetically similar Hippie, have come to wrap themselves around products such as craft beer and independent coffee. Much like the Greaser who has came to “own” the leather jacket, the Hipster “owning” an emerging commodity like craft beer or independent coffee can be perceived as a threat to those who prefer not to be associated with a particular collective and prefer to maintain their unique beverage, music or grooming tastes. This subsequently enlarges the target of the Hipster.
However, Hipsters as a counter or sub-culture are merely a product of the times, where and when the aesthetics and depth of history are available to the masses online, blurring the lines of past and present, permeating the now. When today’s popular culture is as tailored and well-presented in a Facebook and Instagram Feed, it only makes sense there will be a prominent leaning towards the obscure and unpopular. Enter hipsterism.
Futhermore, we also may be confounding hatred with envy as Hipsters are sometimes known for being on the front lines of trends, liking things “before they are cool.” In a sense, this practice is considerably valuable in today’s accelerating culture of what’s new and hot. More so, with today’s quality of content and products, it can feel like Hipsters are beating the masses to the punch and owning what can or will be cool before it reached the rest us of. This rightfully feels like something worth defending, but not worth attacking.
Whether they be Hippies, Goths, Greasers, Beatniks or Gamers, or conversely Yuppies, Surfers, Jocks, Banker Bros or Socs, in defense of these classes, and Hipsters included, deviation from the mass is nothing new and critical to the necessary development of sense of self. With any counter or sub-cultural group, recognition within a larger community evolutionarily denotes safety as if one feels apart of the pack. While another unfair tie to Hipsters is their flagrant narcism or arrogance, from the previously mentioned groups, pride and sometimes excessive pride is nothing special and doesn’t make Hipsters any different. Pride carries confidence, signaling the collective strength of the group, again tracing back to evolutionary practices.
In a sense, we hate Hipsters, because they subconsciously represent who we all are at our core, individuals who seek differentiation yet favor the power in numbers, and additionally place personal taste above all else. So, what makes you and I different from a Hipster? Who is to determine the mutually exclusivity of various tastes, fashions and interests? Hipsters are the embodiment of a clash of taste and a convergence of cultures, which is nothing radical when discussing identity, especially in today’s environment with the vast availability of knowledge and product thanks to the internet.
When we attack hipsterism, market or any community of people for that matter, we disrespect ourselves, as rarely are we free from being absolutely incomparable to these groups. More so, when we attack these groups, they only become even more tight-knit in order to preserve their individual and collective ideologies. Whether it’s a race, religion or adorn for vinyl, every single individual deserves nothing but understanding and everything but ostracism. After all, who doesn’t like beer and coffee?