Down with the “Hipster-esque” Part 1

A friend shared a link with me to Adbusters’ article about how hipsters are the “Dead End of Western Civilization”– a mass produced lifestyle that has no meaning behind it.  Punks, beatniks, hippies, grunge;  all these movements had a meaning and purpose behind their ideal trademarks (flannel for Grunge – started in Seattle).
What do hipsters have?  The article explains it as a mixture of many sub genres.  The term “hipster” itself is a meaningless term that many happen to fit into, but feel insulted to be referred to as a hipster.  As some one who has been called (accused) of being a hipster,  I can admit I know that being called a hipster by one is a result of a trait or habit or inclination that is seen as “pretentious” only because the accuser lacks it themselves.  You have a unique style of clothing?  One who lacks it will call you a hipster.  Know your fair share of facts about independent labels and emerging music artists?  A jealous, uninformed foe will call you a hipster.  You are caught reading a book that isn’t Twilight/Harry Potter/about to become a movie?  Definitely a hipster.

The cause of this new trend is the mass productive and capitalization of our society.  Experts (opinionated semi hipsters with real jobs) will say that “hipsterdom” is a result of the advertising and marketing industry telling us what is hip or cool.  I find this is to be true based on the following observation.  The trend of black Ray Bans. When they were first popular two years ago, I recall reading through NYLON and finding ad after ad of Ray Bans – A picture of Bob Dylan in his youth wearing Ray Bans,  a sexy Sid Nancy type wearing headphones and Ray Bans, giggling girls jumping out of a window wearing school uniforms and….Ray Bans.  So was the birth of the trend of hipsters wearing Ray Ban sunglasses, which are classic, cool, rebellious.

blog sunglassesEven I am guilty of stuffing hipster style down people’s throats – and it does involve the Ray Ban sunglasses.  At my summer internship with All Terrain, the client I worked with was the Chicago Public Library, which was running a very successful campaign about how the library was “Not What You Think”.  The target demographic?  Hip 21-35 year olds.  Post College.  Hipster-esque.  There is your first clue to the betrayal of (supposedly, though I won’t admit to it) my kind.  As part of the campaign, we were present at summer events in Chicago (Not Where You Think Event Series).  Included in these events was this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival.  Clue 2. The first event of the summer was Volleywood Beach Bash.  Outdoor. Beach. Summer.  My mind jumped to give out sunglasses as giveaways that day and on Pitchfork holiday.  Innocent enough.  Then I thought – let’s pick this style specifically.  What style?  Oh, just Ray Ban hipster-esque sunglasses.  Clue 3. Ding Ding.  My betrayal.  In my head, I was hoping that many would pick up the irony and laugh a bit.  Looking back now, was it yet again feeding into the hipster trend?  Am I just a big HYPOCRITE? Maybe yes, maybe no.  All I  know is that everyone wanted the glasses, even snatching them off people’s faces, and in fact I have a pair perched on my head at this moment.  Am I being a hipster?  Am I purposefully promoting Chicago Public Library?  Here is proof about how down to earth I am, with Midwestern ties, how I’m a REAL person – simply – I am wearing these sunglasses – because it’s sunny.

3 thoughts on “Down with the “Hipster-esque” Part 1

    1. What’s ridiculous is that there are endless reasons why people feel a need to label or define one another. There are varying reasons why one could be called a hipster – too ridiculous of an amount to get into. Admittedly, I should have been more clear. There seems to be a habit among those of a certain personality type to call another [insert label here] almost accusingly, when they do so because of some talent/style/habit of the other they wished to emulate. For example: “oh you go to all these amazing shows in weird warehouse places and get PBR spilled on you. *sigh* you’re such a hipster.”

      It’s all in the context of how a label is used, whether as a compliment/insult/accusation/off hand remark.

  1. I dig the post. I also happened to stumbled upon that “dead end of western civilization” article and had a good laugh.

    As for my two cents: I fail to see much of a difference between hipster culture and cultural movements of the past i.e. grunge, punk, hippy, etc. One can pretend that these past trends were somehow more ‘meaningful’ or ‘authentic’ because they rallied for some ’cause’. I say bullshit. These movements were ultimately about self expression and rebellion. The same as ‘hipster’ and every other social trend out there to come. Why is the hipster style any different? Why is our self expression/rebellion less genuine?

    The decentralization of media via the internet (the biggest influence on modern culture and a great disparity from previous cultures) has led us to rebel/express ourselves in a myriad of ways. This sometimes produces similarities (skinny jeans, indie music) but equally produces variation. Our inspirations (as in people in the era of internet, not just hipsters) are as varied as the memes of the internet and of the bits and pieces from these memes which we pick and choose to appropriate. This makes it quite hard to categorize the movement as a whole and would seem to be the reason such a label is resented and/or denied.

    Enough ranting. Backing to hypemachine/pretending to work.

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