When I was preying on the internet in search of fun pics for another hipsters-pay-attention-to-me-also-buy-these-products article, I stumbled upon this image of a sign in a bar that read, “Dear Hipsters, it is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.” And I wondered, holy shit what could account for this savagery? Then, I giggled.
But seriously, where is this hatred coming from? Maybe the older generation, including my mom, who recently yelled that Tinder was for animals, is funding it. Maybe it’s the result of a combination of jealousy, inferiority, confusion, exclusion and ignorance. Maybe it’s just an all-too convenient method of scapegoating. What I’m really trying to ask is what in the world are we to do with an anti-culture of an anti-culture?
To lazily chart the hipster’s downfall, let’s think when the hipster went out of style. My heart among other sources says 2013 to 2014 was the year the commercialization of hipsters reached a tipping point and went full-blown cliché, but American Apparel profits pinpoint 2009 as the beginning of the end.
People started stereotyping the stereotypes. Pictures of men in V-necks that showcased belly buttons emerged. Ankle length beards were cited as tripping hazards. Pedophilia and mustaches became inextricably linked, but why? Why criminalize this traditionally younger, folksy, creative, lean, coffee bean and beanie-loving group?
Condescension is one of the greatest crimes cited against hipsters and also the solution in responding to these PBR-drinking, poetry-reading, pretentious-bearing beards. How is this possible? This dude dedicated his Wordpress to hating on hipsters and managed to link them only tenuously bordering on nonsense-ly to androgyny, homelessness and ugliness.
I’m dead serious guys. What is going on? Hipsters are paired with hypocrisy of course, but so are hipster haters and apparently no one is seeing this chiasmus. Let’s un-blind ourselves by stepping into the non-ecofriendly shoes of our hipster enemies.
Cassie Chapados owns a lovely record player, barely brushes her hair and occasionally wears a graphic tee showcasing a hippo or a horribly ugly Bon Jovi crop top with a single bedazzle bought at Good Will. Speculating on the hypocrite hipsters who ruin it for everyone, she said, “There’s a phony sense. Nobody likes people who try too hard, and that’s true of so many things. It’s like those religious people who shove it in your face; truly devout people are really quiet about it.”
So hipsterness, genuine hipsterness, deserves a type of piety. Rather convincingly, there is a sense of awe and respect when Chapados told me about her roommate’s brother who is the closest thing to a hipster, but would never admit it. He made gloves out of a dead squirrel once, or is at least in the habit of tanning road kill.
But here again, like with the pedo-stache, we flirt with the idea of associating hipsters not only with a lack of hygiene but a lack of normalcy, empathy and even humanity. And the emergence of Nazi-hipsters, given the uncomfortably cutes-y nickname “nipsters,” certainly isn’t helping. These “hipsters” are trying to mainstream Nazism, mostly using social media outlets including YouTube, Tumblr, and Instagram. (So that’s terrifying.)
Can we rewrite this narrative? When chatting about the scape-goating phenomenon of the term, a friend unconsciously linked progressiveness with hipsterness. She was as reluctant to give up her anonymity as she was to accept this Freudian slip but did say, “I do feel like people who don't conform to mainstream vales are the ones who have more of a stake in progressing it forward.”
This is fair. Think of what these non-conformists have contributed to music (maybe jazz, indie, amazing), fashion (skinny jeans) and art (Jason Pollack?). Think like the Harvard Political Review about how hipsters use their power for good in making movements like #freethenipple campaign trendy. More importantly, think of the coffee shops they’ve given us.
There used to be a more definite link between hipster and revolution, but then again there used to be a more definite link between hipster and anti-culture.
How are hipsters to change anything about a culture that has so rigidly baptized, commercialized and stereotyped them? What if mainstream is the monster, which is just to say, what if hipsters were right all along?