Thursday, May 19, 2011
I Want to Know: What the Hell is a Hipster?
I just accidentally followed my own blog. Can I have a #facepalm, please?
On to the point at hand...
What the hell is a hipster?
My daughter tells me that a hipster is basically someone who is anti-anything that is considered cool by the culture at large. They include old hippies, young, under-employed urbanites, and people who drive rusting, authentically uncool cars that have cache (a woody? a Pacer? what?). People who don't bathe very often. They apparently try to appear like they're not trying. But they're definitely not preppy people. Do I have that right?
I just saw a Pinterest pic of a sweet little girl with the caption: "AH! hipster bangs!" What can this mean? The child's bangs are quirky and appealing, and not overstyled. Yet they are somewhat styled. Her tiny shirt has a pseudo-vintage look. I can't recall any fashion time period when a child would have worn something similar. Ruffles, yes. Waffle weave, no. Maybe pseudo-vintage is the key phrase here. I see nostalgia. I see charm. I see simplicity. Perhaps we are all craving simpler times--times which, ironically enough, probably never existed.
When I imagine a hipster, why do I keep thinking of Mother In Law #2, who had scads of money and a lovely house, but always went to the laundromat to do the family laundry? She also wore canvas shoes and an unruly, but sensible haircut.
Would Beatrix Potter have been a Victorian hipster? How long before we see a Beatrix Potter steampunk novel or film? Really, she would be perfect. Animals would all be mechanical. (I call dibs on this idea, right here, right now!)
Trying to figure this out makes my brain hurt.
On to Google.
Here's a link to something called The Hipster Handbook. It suggests that hipsters are young urbanites who disdain the mainstream. But it was released way back in 2003. Really? Have I been completely asleep for eight years? (As a parent of a teen and an eleven year-old, I haven't slept well in years. Maybe I was just distracted.) A more relevant exemplar might be the book, Stuff Hipsters Hate, which came out in 2010. There's also a blog of the same name. Its tag line is "Because it's cool to be a hater." (I'm starting to get it now, I think. The Stuff Hipsters Hate blog is on tumblr. How very hipster of it.)
A few things hipsters hate (from the Amazon blurb): monogamy, muscles, being asked about their tattoos, knowing their bank balance, enthusiasm.
My daughter also told me that they drink PBR. PBR? I have to add a WTH? Gross. Back in the day, the only time we would drink PBR was when we couldn't get a keg of something more expensive, or those cute little Miller bottles. Now I can't bear Miller, either. Must be all those years I worked for Anheuser-Busch. I'd rather drink Busch Beer--and that's saying something. Never did like beer made from corn. When we got Busch for our monthly case of beer allotment, mine always went straight to the guys who worked on my wrecked Chevette, which I drove, wrecked, for almost three years. Couldn't get into the front passenger door at all. I wonder what that says about me. Was I an early hipster? Probably not. I'm an obsessive hair-washer, and I have a deep and abiding loathing of dirty feet.
One thing I did see on the Stuff Hipsters Hate blog was a reference to Peter, Bjorn & John, a band whose music I heard on WFPL as I drove through Louisville. They kind of reminded me of Belle & Sebastian, one of my favorite bands. Though I think the blog spoke favorably of them. But would it be hipster-ish to like a band? I think not.
My shallow bit of research leads me to the conclusion that a distinct lack of enthusiasm for anything is a hallmark of hipsterdom. I'm thinking that hipsters are simply the counter-culture flavor of the recent decade. They were the early hippies of the sixties, the Beats of the fifties, the Bohemians of the twenties and thirties. The stuff they hate changes in direct relation to what the culture likes.
I couldn't be a hipster if I tried. I'm too old, too well-upholstered, too (to my surprise) mainstream. I like soap. And cars that aren't rusted or wrecked. I think decent, expensive beer is deck.
How do my conclusions sound to you? Have I misidentified the hipster vibe? Enlighten me, please!