The term ‘hipster’ is one that fills me with derision, that inspires snooty contempt from the very root of my most callous and cynical id. Until now, I haven’t been able to articulate why, without becoming a living parody of the exact pretentious attitude that I am trying to dismiss. My point is, hipsters don’t really exist. Nothing can be hipster. That doesn’t make any sense. At least, not anymore. Like punk, the term has become a caricature of a once idealized mentality of something unique, smart, and true. And like punk, it is now a tool of advertising agencies to sell bland crap to an unsuspecting and easily duped demographic.

But I digress. The word hipster in its current form is trying to describe youth and everything nostalgic and missed that dies along with it. There are trends, movements, art and music that become hipster when associated with the generation who most threatens the establishment, who has become aware, powerful and dangerous. And I hypothesize that it is this doomed generation that attaches the name to to the younger in an effort to understand and simplify their sociological purpose. In the fifties it was beatniks, then hippies, freaks, punks, slackers, emo and now the hipster.

This still does not settle the question of what a hipster is. Images of a skinny, bearded youth with tight jeans and gauged ears and a careless attitude listening to music overlooked by the masses and reading Camus. But is this man a true hipster, or donning the attire and lifestyle because he wishes to be part of a cultural movement associated with culture and sophistication? The hipster, and where it  differs from punks and hippies, is defined by irony. Nothing is so simple as dressing up a misplaced and post-angst twenty something and calling it hipster. The hipsters became what they were because they were filling a void in society, a vacancy left when kitsch and antiquities became forgotten. They embrace all things retro and ignored. They take what is no longer cool and make it hip. Thus, if we look for a true hipster, he would not be recognizable nor would he even be aware of the term. Hipsters do not refer to themselves as hipsters. The clothing and demeanor associated with the movement has, by the sin of association, lost its meaning. The hipster has lost his irony, and with it his identity.

The problem with the hipster and finding them in reality is that they took what was uncool and made it desirable, hence the oft mocked catchphrase, “before it was cool.” But when it became desirable to the point of a trend, it was no longer relevant. For example, a true hipster would wear a top hat because it was cheap, outdated, and hideous. But the true hipster had class and sophistication and could wear the top hat with such clever poise that the absurdity of the object became forgotten, and it was unique. So then everyone started wearing them, but now for a different reason. Now they are cool. The true hipster would have moved on, but the culture latched on to his original thesis and refused to let go and absorbed the idea of hipster, when in reality there is nothing but an empty word with definable features, but without the original meaning or message.

There is a new hipster out there somewhere. I think nerd culture is plotting its usurpation of the trends currently occupied by hipsterdom. But then again, I was a nerd before it was cool.


Editor-in-Chief and editorial writer for The Accolade News


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