Hip Stirs

Most if not all have heard the term by now, and instantly it invokes imagery in one’s head, and a stereotypical anthropomorphization of such a person.  But what are they even supposed to be?  Clinical definitions talk of a subculture of youths interested in independent media, alternative life philosophies, and non-traditional fashion.  The word on the street talks of scarves, coffee shops, expensive college degrees, Raybans Wayfarers, bands that were listened to before they were cool, and the bandied-about word “mainstream”.  And somewhere in the middle is an amorphous consensus vaguely defined as “people who pursue an unpopular opinion.”

Hipsters are viewed by the larger society as pompous, self-righteous, and trying so hard to be cool that they end up not being it.  Conversely, hipsters view larger society as uninventive and oppressive, indicative of a hive or sheep mentality that pushes no envelopes and asks no questions.  This dichotomy illicits a feel of “the state” versus “the rebels” in a sort of civil war, with the rebels being small in number, fighting for an unpopular cause against the status quo.  The rub with any rebellion is that the cause seems right to those who believe in it, and the rebels seem wrong to those who are not rebelling, but what “seems” to be defines neither right nor wrong.  Hipsters may think that they are enlightened, and society may think that they are foolish, and thus gives rise to the mud-slinging back and forth, but the question of who is right remains unanswered, perhaps because there is none to be had.

The perception more and more of hipsters seems to be of a negative sort, to the point that the very word “hipster” has morphed into something of an insult.  Mentioning interest in a microscopic alternative band may instantly be met with, “What are you, soma kind of hipster?” as if being a hipster is a bad thing, but more specifically, as if possessing a similar interest to that of a hipster MAKES one a hipster.  By that token, if one “hipster” interest does not a hipster make, how many do?  Here’s what may very well be an important distinction:  a hipster seeks the road less travelled BECAUSE it’s the road less travelled.  They desire what’s fringe, and by association they do not desire what is not fringe.  One who enjoys the fringe solely because of its inherent qualities and couldn’t care less about its popularity is not a hipster; the popularly or lack thereof is a coincidence.

But now, the grey area.  Does a true hipster reject something simply because it is mainstream, even if they actually like said something?  Does the popularity of an interest take precedence over all else in their lives to the point of illogic?  Or perhaps, has a true hipster’s mind simply conditioned itself so as to inherently like the qualities of unpopular things, and inherently dislike the qualities of popular things?  It’s not as if “Unpopular” is a factory or a business that always produces similar goods, any more than “Mainstream” is; things are popular or unpopular for wildly different reasons and possess fluctuating levels of quality.

Hipster, as with any label on a person, is a label left wanting that fails to capture the intricacies of an individual.  “Geek”, “Redneck”, “Suit”, “Christian”, “Democrat”, “American”, these are umbrellas that can only encompass broadly, not define specifically.  An individual may take pride in being a geek, or a Christian, or a hipster, but it must be noted that there are many different types of geeks, many different types of Christians, and thus there should logically be many different types of hipsters.  There could be a clothing hipster, a music hipster, or a movie hipster, in the same way that there might be a computer geek, video game geek, or Star Wars geek.  A computer geek may know nothing about Star Wars, and so a movie hipster may know nothing about clothes.  The word “hipster” should not define a person, but simply HELP in defining a person.

Whether the culture at large decides to treat the word as such is quite another matter.

{It sort of speaks for itself}

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