Are We All Hipsters At Heart?

author: UG Team date: 02/22/2013 category: features
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Are We All Hipsters At Heart?
If you're an avid UG visitor, odds are you're not the spitting image of an All-American jock or princess prom queen. You operate on the outside of mainstream style. You play guitar and dig rock music. You're cool, but with your fair share of quirks. This makes you interesting. Although those quirks make you unique there may be aspects of you that could potentially be labeled as (gasp!) "hipster". By now we're all too familiar with contemporary hipster culture, especially in regards to indie rock music. What began emerging in the early 2000s as a likely response to the film "Garden State" and whatever record The Shins had just put out, hipster culture of twentysomethings snowballed into yet another meme-worthy stereotype that gave plenty of ammo to the population to point, laugh, and say, "look at that f-ckn' hipster!" While the concept of a "hipster" is nothing new (origins of the term date back to the 1940s), the contemporary form of hipsterism revolves around the popular aesthetics of frumpy girls with androgynous shaggy hair, melancholy independent films, expensive plaid shirts and skinny jeans designed to look cheap, and "ironic" thrift store clothing sporting graphics of team building exercises at companies the wearer never worked at, or "Field Day '97"s from middle schools the wearer never attended. Throw in some Pabst Blue Ribbon, thick non-prescription glasses, Arcade Fire on vinyl, pseudo-intellectual banter that echoes sentiments expressed by Kurt Vonnegut, Season 1 of Demitri Martin's "Comedy Central" sketch show on DVD, and a marginally talented "singer/songwriter" singing about his profound experience in Amsterdam's Red Light District during a formative and eye-opening semester abroad in college, and you have yourself one giant hipster. Succinctly put, an entry in the prestigious Urban Dictionary defines today's hipster as someone who is "smart enough to talk about philosophy, music, politics, art, etc. with you all day long, but not smart enough to see how big of a tool s/he is." Tools they may be, but while today's connotation against hipsters is widely negative, it's possible that the stereotype has been blown out of proportion thanks to a heavy injection of vitality based on the medium in which you're reading this article. Maybe the hate against hipsters is rooted in the common anxiety and self-hatred inherent in one's adolescence and twenties. Maybe we see a little bit of ourselves in those who choose to go all-out in hipster fashion. Maybe we all have elements of hipster within us. Maybe you're a relatively lazy dresser and end up looking like a hipster by default; when people accuse you of being a hipster and you call their ignorance, you get diagnosed with a serious case of hipster denial. It's a no win situation. Maybe you like Fleet Foxes because they're actually not that bad of a band. Maybe you've gone into a record store and purposely sought out obscure artists, hoping to stumble upon something new that few people have ever heard of, and you, because of your discernible and critical ear for great music, recognize the undiscovered genius of this artist and deem it's up to you to preach of their awesomeness. And you will get credit. And your friends will thank you. And yet, perhaps you loosely resemble a hipster simply because you're young, skinny and relatively poor. Maybe you like Pabst Blue Ribbon because it gets the job done. Maybe you find yourself engaging in pseudo-intellectual conversations about philosophy, art and music because youre young, curious and are searching for answers and meaning. And yet, you don't live in Williamsburg. You have a job. You prefer less gloomy music. You've even come to realize that the bands that seem to fit the romanticized idea of underground musical messiahs often turn out to sound nothing more than droning noise that sounds like it was needlessly amped through a Kmart amplifier. Just like any other subculture that gets the mainstream treatment over time, the style goes through a cycle of stereotypical resentment. A group goes against the grain because the grain sucks; then more people follow in fashion because it's fun; then the grain figures it can make money off the anti-grain group because more people are following, and then it becomes the new grain and then Urban Outfitters starts charging you up the ass to look like said anti-grain. Then you can't escape the stereotype because it's all over the place. Going to a local rock show and watching an indie band seems like youve stepped into Hipster City, but going to a hole-in-the-wall retro jazz club still appears hipstered out because it somehow seems ironic that young people will gallivant to such non-mainstream music. Ultimately, by virtue of being young and on the outside of conventional mainstream style, you could be seen as a hipster in some form - maybe not in the exaggerated and overly bastardized sense, but in some way. And that's okay. Maybe we've been too hard on the hipsters. But then when you find yourself in a San Francisco dive bar on a Tuesday night, watching a frail brown-haired girl from New Zealand covering Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise" on a ukulele while her friend harmonizes the chorus from the audience, you realize that hipsterism in its current form is still at large and still sadly hilarious. Then she covers "Electric Feel" by MGMT and you can't help but order a microbrew. Share the most hipster thing about you, and don't be afraid. I'm sure the Kmart Amp Band is sick. By Zach Pino
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