Today’s word of the day is a bit muddled in cultural ambiguity. Like most cultural subsets it has variance, but some generalization is necessitated for any definition and a basic understanding of the idea. I decided to provide three different definitions: one from a hipster perspective, one from an an outsider perspective, and a more objective perspective. The final definition was the most objective and insightful definition I could find, although I do find some of it to have a negative slant. As “Hipster” is a contemporary, youth-culture driven label, I thought Urban Dictionary definitions would be most fitting. Let me know what you think.
1. Hipster Perspective:
Such people are the true “cool cats” of the world. They’re those “in the know”, ahead of the norm. They’re not of the mainstream. They be eternal beatniks! (And certainly not hippies). Yes, they’re people who are– or at least consider themselves to be– “hip”, as in “hip to the jive”. Older hip hipsters will of course always look down on latter-day versions, those (younger) folks who think themselves to be hipsters simply because, for instance, they’re able to exhibit a little facial peach-fuzz and have a taste for some generic pop music that they’ve deemed to be, umm, “non-corporate”. Hah!
and finger-poppin’ daddies:
Knock me your lobes.This bit of hipsterism was written by “Lord Buckley” (Richard ‘Lord’ Buckley’), who was a singular, amazingly influencial (Caucasian!) comic genius that looked a little like Salvador Dali, affected a British accent, dressed in a tux and was best known as one who performed hipster interpretations/translations of well-known dramatic scenes and notable speeches.The above quote comes from Lord Buckley’s version of the very beginning of Mark Anthony’s funeral oration in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar:Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones…
2. Outsider Perspective:
Hipsters are a 21st Century subculture that, in an attempt to reject having a uniform style of dress or artistic taste, has developed a uniform style of dress and artistic taste. Hipsters wear sunglasses in winter and checked shirts and scarves all year round, and short shorts (regardless of whether the hipster is male or female). Hipsters wear Toms shoes and have multiple tattoos. Sometimes hipsters wear waistcoats. Hipsters often smoke, even though they are also proud of being well educated and live healthy, green lifestyles. Hipsters drink locally-brewed beer in cans.Hipsters often speak about esoteric musical bands from decades past, or bands from small towns few have heard of, but which are now based in Greenwich Village. When other hipsters (or worse, members of the general public) have heard of these bands, hipsters feel great frustration. Skilled hipsters mask this frustration by instead denouncing the band, explaining, “I was just trying to talk about a band you probably had heard of, because I am a really inclusive person, and I didn’t want anyone to feel left out.”Hipsters often feel they are the best adjudicators of art, including films, music, literature and poetry, and visual art. The average hipster has read 2000 more novels than the nearest hipster in the cafe he or she is doing nothing in.Hipsters often have no fixed income, yet they have all of the latest technology, most of which have a white apple symbol.
“Do you see that guy with the designer stubble, the tie-scarf combo, the coke bottle glasses, the skin-tight jeans, the leather boots, a tattoo on his arm that says ‘RAMONES’, and that walkman that probably doesn’t even have batteries in it?””Sure do. Why does he have so much swag?””Because he’s a hipster.””I see. Makes sense.”
3. More Objective
A contrived identity constructed out of a pastiche of symbols co-opted from bohemian movements of the past, and then reassembled and repackaged. Yet, unlike bohemian subcultures of earlier periods, the hipster lives by no common creed, ethic, or collection of political beliefs. Nor does the hipster offer a unique form of art, music, or literature as groups such as the Beats, Hippies, Yippies, or Punks once did. Rather, the hipster is driven by an effort to cultivate an identity as an end in itself, a persona that will presumably distinguish the hipster from their despised, and over-generalized concept of “mainstream culture.”
Hipster psychology is born out of experiences of rejection during childhood and adolescence as well as the resultant inability to conform to contemporary social standards. The hipster, as a psychological self defense mechanism, constructs an alternative perspective on culture and identity as a response to their subjective experience of social failure and emotional pain. Rather than accept their own shortcomings at face value, the hipster cultivates a self centered world view whereupon culture, religion, politics, and society as a whole are at fault for all that causes dissatisfaction and frustration. Furthermore, the hipster believes that his or her non-participation in “mainstream” life serves as a form of subversion itself, as well as proof positive of their intellectual enlightenment rather than an obvious demonstration of their failure to adapt. Because arrogance is the shadow of shame, the hipster converts his or her social incompetence into an attitude of superiority, and his or her failure into a disposition of pride.Consequently, hipster culture presents an “alternative image” that attempts to counter, parody, mock, or even satire their concept of mainstream culture while providing a safe environment that, from afar, collectively gives the appearance of a movement. Thus, hipsters make it their practice to flaunt the photo-negative image of their idea of popular “suburban” culture. For example, if the average person in the suburbs shops in malls, the hipster will buy their clothing in second hand shops. If (over generalized) suburban men drive state of the art sports cars with large engines, the hipster may drive a modest Volkswagen or an old, very undersized subcompact European car such as an early seventies BMW, or better yet, ride a fixed gear bicycle with a sticker exclaiming “One Less Car.”Because the Hipster loathes above all things to be seen as conventional they, as a rule, don’t work. According to existentialist orthodoxy, “one is what one does.” As a result, the hipster does nothing. The hipster’s lack of participation in any type of career, at least on the surface, functions as an attempt to avoid being characterized as “mainstream.” However, upon deeper examination it isn’t hard to discover that the hipster lacks the requisite skills to do anything purposeful anyway. Rather, for the hipster, one is as one “seems.” And the hipster is very adept at being able to “seem.” Seeming requires collecting symbols both material and intellectual and proves much easier on a frail body and psyche than actual work. This is particularly the case when parents help around rent time, if the hipster doesn’t already own.Because the hipster’s life is a lie that they tell to themselves (and don’t believe themselves) they demonstrate a high degree of instability and mental illness which will often be treated by psychoactive medication. Often hipsters will merely self-medicate, particularly if their parents don’t pay their COBRA. As a result, hipsters will eventually exhibit behaviors that are truly alternative until they face the fact that their subculture is an elaborate buffer from their fear of non-acceptance and failure.
Hipster Conversation-Dylan: “Man, I’m so sick of my dad’s whole patriarchal disdain for any sense of leisure.”Josh: “Yeah, man, tell me about it; I hardly ever get back up to Greenwich anymore for that reason.”Dylan “Hey bartender, we’ll take two Pabst Blue Ribbons please.”