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. By now we're all too familiar with contemporary hipster culture, especially in regards to indie rock music...

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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

104 comments sorted by best / new / date

    badfish_lewis
    I'd say a good definition of a hipster is not someone who is outside the norm, it's someone who strives to be outside the norm just for the sake of appearing that way. To me it's no different than the term poser.
    BjarnedeGraaf
    It's like the old "joke" A guy walks up to me and asks 'What's Punk?'. So I kick over a garbage can and say 'That's punk!'. So he kicks over the garbage can and says 'That's Punk?', and I say 'No that's trendy!'. Same thing could apply to hipsters.
    Sam Rulez D00d
    I always thought "hipster" just meant you followed the trends before they hit the majority of the people.
    sonofgkex
    I hate hipsters. If you want to do something mainstream, do it. If you don't want to be mainstream, don't. If your desire to APPEAR "different" or "original" becomes more powerful that your desire to actually BE your own person then you have become a piece of hipster scum, and I will set you on fire one day.
    BjarnedeGraaf
    Or you could live and let live, and not be a dick about it. everything what you said after "i hate hipsters" and before "a piece of hipster scum" made actual sence. the rest just made you look like a douchebag.
    sonofgkex
    No, I'm just honest. Hipsters disgust me. Where did we all get this idea that we aren't allowed to hate anything? If that makes you think I'm a jerk then I probably wouldn't care what you thought if we actually met. Not trying to insult you; just stating a fact.
    BjarnedeGraaf
    Because hate is a much bigger word then the world thinks it is these days. you seem like a small child that tells his parents he hates them because he didn't get a cookie.
    crazysam23_Atax
    "Where do we get this idea that we aren't allowed to hate anything?" Oh, we probably got the idea, because hating people or things just makes us bitter. You're clearly quite bitter against hipsters. Now, I don't enjoy the hipster look or their stereotypical choices of music either, but I see no reason for me to waste time and energy hating hipsters.
    sonofgkex
    You two will burn in a pile of hipsters one day. Await and tremble.
    BjarnedeGraaf
    I'm not saying I like hipsters, but I don't hate em either. It's just another trend that will silently die anyway
    sonofgkex
    Yes, they will all die silently. In a large flaming pile of hipsters, apple products, and vinyl. The smell of singed hipster beard will ascend to the heavens, and the gods will rejoice as I, the igniter of the hipsters, ascend to become one of them.
    sonofgkex
    One of the gods, I mean. Of course
    snake345
    Dear lord how old are you. This is how 12-15 year old kids who know nothing better talk about people they don't like. Grow up, there's no need to hate hipsters. A lot of them are actually pretty nice people. It's great that they're into obscure stuff too, it just means more for you to discover, stop hating.
    telephonebear
    Homer Simpson: "I'm going to hangout with my new hipster friends" Lisa: "I thought you hated hipsters" Homer: "I did, but I'm warming to them. It takes a lot of courage to all wear the same hat"
    James Scott
    If you've ever disliked a band because they've sold a lot of records, turned on a band you used to like simply because they went platinum, or you like a band simply because they're unpopular, you're a hipster. Metal is full of hipsters.
    Alcofuel
    Metalheads and hipsters have more in common than either would like to admit
    Jazz1992
    Mostly true, but a lot of people start disliking a band not just because they sold a lot of records, but because they changed their sound to something else/worse to do so. That said, your last sentence stands. Sadly.
    Sensual Lettuce
    I like collecting vinyl. But I liked it BEFORE it became a hipster thing to do, so I'm not a hipster right? Oh wait...
    SwoobGuitar
    If you do it because you like vinyl, you're awesome. If you do it because not many people collect vinyl, you're a hipster.
    NemX162
    I'm really sick of this McCarthyism-esque war against any group that has been distinguished from the norm. Who cares if the emo kids like to dress different and talk about death. Who cares if the hipsters drink Pabst and drone on about odd and obscure music. Who cares if the metal-heads wear gaudy band t's and refuse to cut their hair. Accusations of being "trendy" aside, these are things that make us different. I don't understand this incessant need to hate on the out-group. Especially when people base it on how somebody dresses and/or somebody's musical taste.
    l0ld4v3
    I'd like to be a 1940's hipster, with the cool hats with the feather and shit. Pretty cool cats.
    Kueller917
    I guess I'm a bit of a hipster. I won't deny that I find myself looking for bands (or movies, books, etc. too) that are pretty unknown just for the sake of it. I also collect vinyl and listen to stuff that could be considered p4k-core. But overall I wouldn't call myself one. I don't follow any of the styles, I listen to a lot of mainstream stuff because why not. I've never hated a band after they got popular either. I generally don't care about that stuff enough to be bothered by it. I do think everyone has some levels of hipster or trendy side. We all want to be accepted sometimes, and different other times. Of course those words have changed meaning so much you could make a whole new article about the overuse and misinterpretation of "hipster" and such.
    TheTee56
    I felt that in some paragraphs I wasn't reading an opinion, I felt like I was reading a ****ing dictionary.
    Hydro_O
    Obviously this is made by a Hipster that is sick of the label and doesn't want to get picked on anymore. You are not fooling me, hipster.
    DreamGate
    It may be because of localized fame or whatnot, but I do not know anything about the names you've mentioned. Not one. But yeah, we are all hipsters at heart. Deep down inside we all want to be different. Waiting for a floppy full of some 8-bit Neo-Mongolian folk rap.
    l0ld4v3
    In fact, we are all different. Basic psychology will teach you that. Would it be much more precise to say that MOST americans wants to stand out here or there because of this or that? You are taught to fit and conform, to rely on praise and escape shame, but you are not taught to appreciate your self for what you are.
    crazysam23_Atax
    Actually, most Americans learn in school (as of probably the '80s) that it's ok to be different. I really have no idea where you got your idea about what us Americans are taught in school.
    DreamGate
    Well, you cant blame a person when he learns from a surrounding lifestyle, can you? And just to be clear. I am not American.
    crusherclement
    Didn't the Idea Channel cover this about a month ago?...
    crazysam23_Atax
    By the way, the idea that people of different subcultures are hipsters is stupid.
    Molomono
    Nor is it what was being said. He made a point out that hipsters are people who take items that equal status within subcultures and wear them without taking in their cultural value. Thus rendering what they wear, in the eyes of others, to equal absolutely no status. Basically they oddball themselves by disrespecting the cultural value of cloths they wear. This explains both why everyone hates them and why they always try to be different. It also explains why they look so disorganized and styleless.
    sprfzzbgmff
    It's so ****ing retarded that you're considered a hipster if you collect vinyl. Or enjoy obscure, unknown bands. Our society is full of jackasses.
    Kueller917
    Stuff like that happens all the time. Hipster just happens to be a popular term at the moment so yeah it's easy to just call everyone out on it. Terms like "obscure" are highly subjective anyways since there's no real defining line. I've been listening to a lot of stuff from The Microphones lately, and while I consider them to be a pretty popular band I'm sure there's someone out there who would call me a hipster for it.
    pete-c
    I can't say i've heard of The Microphones, but I think an appropriate reaction would be "hey, i'm glad you found a band you like" :]
    crazysam23_Atax
    @sprfzzbgmff No, you're considered a hipster if you do those things simply because it's not mainstream.
    sprfzzbgmff
    And it's ****ing rediculous. Another thing that pisses me off is being labeled a hipster just because I like the ****ing Smiths. For **** sake it's just a band I enjoy. I'm not listening to them to be "indie" or whatever. Fuck.
    Skajeemah
    I expect to see this great article get lost on the scarily large majority of this site
    duncang
    I'm not sure these people really exist. Not where I'm from anyway. Bellends are bellends for a myriad of reasons and sometimes their attitude to music is a part of it, sometimes not.
    JoachimR
    I don't get people who hate and are bitter. Hipster, brats, nerds, jocks, all these labels and groups we put people in and hate on are ****ing bullshit. Prejudice never shows much reason.
    THRE=yeah
    I never tried to be a hipster but that basically describes me. Except I DO Know what i am talking about unlike some butts. I'm hipster by default. Score 1 Stereotypes.
    Northernmight
    Bleh, who cares. Almost any sub-culture these days has been transformed into a pure image-fest. It's quite sad. I think Punk, Goth and all that stuff is awesomebawesome, but it's just another market now, for people who wants to look and be different than the rest, along with the rest. It's kind of stupid, that way. I don't see how Hipsters differ at all. The only difference to me is that they make it blatently obvious what they are doing, instead of actually being as pretentious as the modern-day Punks, Goths and Emo's. That being said, **** me, there's still alot of hard-ass street-punkers in Germany, living in trashcans and setting stuff on fire. More of that, please!
    EqualOfHeaven
    To me, the term 'Hipster' always came across as a straw-man for firebrand internet rage boners. Pretentious qualities have existed in humanity since time immemorial, and the point that this article was trying by far more gently to get across than I will is this: All of the prescribed characteristics of the 'Hipster' are simply a projection of many people's own characteristics and insecurities onto the blank canvas of today's youth fashion. The same happened with Emo, Grunge, Glam, Hippies, hell; every youth sub-culture since the dawn of time. I'd say there's a good chance older cavemen talked all sorts of trash about the young people in their tribe because they wore wolf-skin instead of bear, and used brown rocks for spearheads rather than grey. 'These bloody kids try too hard to be different! I hope a mammoth tramples them all in their sleep!!'
    NewModelNos15
    Someone at the top said they felt the term was "no different than the term poseur." I would like to add that both temrs connotate not only pretension but the user's ANGER at the SUCCESS of said pretension. I would like to suggest, maybe we'd be successful in a wholly more authentic way if we focused more on ourselves? As someone who loves Elliott Smith AND the Fleet Foxes, and finds myself at odds with other people that do, I relate with this article, and the feeling that you don't want something you love seized up and worn as a badge by people who represent to you the very essence of soulless parrotism: I chirp this way, society gives me a treat, and f*ck you who spent your whole twenties in your parents' basement pounding out some sonic tribute to tortured artists: see, the fashionable always win! And to be fashionable all you need is to get rid of your soul!" I'm not sure what I'm getting at here. But it occurs to me that the hipster, with his effortless mimicry and black-hearted political posturing, is ESSENTIAL to the quest of the real artist, to define himself, in opposition, as someone who SUFFERS, who BLEEDS, who is human and won't misuse the satisfaction of a Saturday night audience to try and maneuver his way into the pants of the girl you've liked for a long time but has had a boyfriend she finally broke up with. Too personal? But like the article says, I think there's a little hipster in all of us, and the tricky part is learning to be human. Am I making sense? Probably not. But too bad for you I'm a hipster, I just gotta make it sound good B)
    Roran109
    Being a nerd AND a metalhead, I'm so inherently anti-mainstream, I go above and beyond the hipster level of "anti-mainstream" and put them to shame. At least according to the people I'm in college with (UNLV). Hipsters are in awe of the "obscure" books I read, like HP Lovecraft, Nylund, and Whedon. The 'obscure' music I like, like Periphery, Dethklok, Parkway Drive, Whitechapel... They're like, "Oh cool, you play guitar! Me too!" I take their acoustic, play some All New Materials, leave their jaws dropped. I'm sure I'm not alone here. Nerdy metalheads unite.
    Rawrlemon
    I don't like the term hipster, it's far too widely used. I prefer 'mainstream-independent'. Which I came up with myself... Being original and all.
    Alcofuel
    "You operate on the outside of mainstream style. You play guitar and dig rock music" Uh, what? A lot of people here listen to mainstream music. Rock music is mainstream as **** lmao
    MaggaraMarine
    True, and guitar is like the most mainstream instrument. If you played bassoon or tuba or something, that would be much more hipster. And of course you should be playing them for the sake of being different from the mainstream. And look at the record sales: Rock artists have sold the most records. Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and Elvis have sold hundreds of millions of records. Not mainstream? Really?
    coman91
    Hipster - Uses the musical work of greater men/women to define self. Not Hipster - Uses the musical work of greater men/women to better him/her self. I don't wear slim jeans. I wear normal clothes. I drink PBR because I ****ing love my brother and we'd always drink it when we were doing stuff together. I listen to Fleet Foxes (and play their music) daily because Robin Pecknold is my ****ing hero. Music is my ****ing dream. I want to get on a got damn stage and rock it like The Black Keys do (becuase Dan Auerbach is also my ****ing hero). The way I see it: If you don't have dreams to become a real musician but still use music a lot in conversation, you're a hipster.
    mindbender747
    I listen to obscure music. Generally obscure music, as well as weird obscure music like Chinese Jazz-core and the didgeridoo stylings of Ash Dargan. I also frequently go to thrift stores to look through old jazz records, and I talk about the intellectual stuff a lot (though mostly only with my friends). I also listen to a lot of mainstream music though, and I don't have a job but I'm a senior in high school who is in a professional choir. I don't think I'm a hipster, I just like things that most other people generally don't like. For the record, I got my guitar and amp at a local guitar store, my bass from a friend of my mom's in Massachusetts, and my newest guitar from Guitar Center.
    sonofmascis
    I love vinyl and worship Dinosaur Jr. That's pretty hipster.
    pete-c
    I'm also a huge Dino fan, but I wouldn't call being a fan a hipster thing. I mean, there probably are a few hipster-ish fans of theirs around, but at least for me, I absolutely love them because the first time I heard them (someone sent me an untitled mp3 and didn't know who it was, took years to find out) I thought "wow, if I made a band, that's exactly how I want it to sound". The bass chords and frantic, melodic leads (the song turned out to be 'Freak Scene') really caught me and I don't know another band that sounds quite like them. I've got a few vinyls too due to a long story about me getting my parents a record player one christmas for their record collection that'd long been without a player, then that same christmas, someone bought me Led Zep III on vinyl to go with it, so I kind of had to get my own player too, and then a few vinyls to go with it later on. 4 LPs is hardly a collection though It's kind of sad though that I should feel ashamed for it, not wanting to attract any 'omg hipster' attention. Anyway, my point: you can probably do most of the 'hipster' things and not actually be a hipster. If you wear those thick-rimmed glasses with no glass though (like in the article picture), I hate you. (edit: by 'you' I mean anyone in general, not you specifically sonofmascis)
    karstaag666
    My idea of a Hipster is more like someone I met the other week at a pub. He only liked music which was current and trendy. As soon as that music had lost its current'ness he would no longer like it and be on something new. In comparison to say myself where I tend to enjoy a bands music no matter how old it gets. Oh and he only shops and wears Supreme clothing
    crazysam23_Atax
    That's actually the opposite of a hipster. That's what the "popular" people do. Of course, here in the US, most people grow out of worrying about being "popular" after their 1st year of university.
    Soldier Poet
    I listen to Arcade Fire, read Kurt Vonnegut and study in Amsterdam, does that mean I'm a hipster?
    Kueller917
    Maybe a little, if that even means anything. But regardless, I like your avatar.
    Priad-Luabe
    it's the whole "look how weird i am and how unusual my taste in stuff is" that gets on my tits
    Rustus
    anything that can be labeled can be hated, and anything that can be hated can be labeled. call it what you will, its all the same. People are people. and people will listen to their choice. I looked into obscure bands (of course, by obscure, I mean not commonly known in my area, like Dream Theater, Symphony X, Shadow Gallery, Stratovarius and Edguy) and got my friends slowly addicted to their work. Some of them even thanked me for it (in the more mainstream case of Skillet) I deny wearing my glasses, even though I am legally blind in my left eye, simply because they're bulky and fall off my face a lot while I make vain attempts at playing the music I love. But all that said, if you want to be different, go right ahead. But in the same context, if you're gonna wear it and think you can avoid backlash, to quote the Eagles, "You can't do that once you put on those shoes"
    Jagmaster33
    A hipster is someone who feels the need to define him/herself based on what OTHER people are doing, and they just assume that everyone else does this too. What they fail to understand is that many of us couldnt care less about mainstream music/culture, AND we couldnt care less about fitting into the hipster's narrow little subculture either. Hipsters think that anyone who doesnt subscribe to their clique is somehow a mainstreamer, when nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, subscribing to the hipster clique is a form of extreme conformity, since it has such strict rules regarding music and fashion. Its simple psychology Hipsters subscribe to their particular brand of groupthink because it makes them feel special, like theyve somehow discovered something that few others have. It massages their fragile egos, convincing them that they have a leg up on other people. But of course, its all an illusion. What kind of people fall victim to this illusory mindset? Vulnerable, insecure people who have a desperate psychological need to fit in and feel special. The hipster subculture provides this for them. It gives them the support that they need.
    saint_berzerker
    Nobody looks like a hipster by accident. Just like in the late 80's with dudes and poofy hair. They spend a while trying to look that way. It's all fake.
    Good Ol' Ramos
    I have this antique record player that I listen to often... and I'm a sucker for songs about philosophy and science. Sue me.