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February 03, 2012

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As far as I know there haven't been any statistically valid public opinion surveys asking about attitudes toward hipsters. Anecdotally, at least, my impression is that people find hipsters amusing, maybe a bit juvenile, but not offensive. We laugh at the way they have elevated PBR to the status of Dom Perignon, but don't think that they are bad people.

It's fashionable non-conformity. It's possible that the the origin of hipsters was an organic response to being deprived of the ability to celebrate their own cultural roots thereby creating their own non-ethnic micro-'culture'. Ironically (ha!) they celebrate the very same SWPL ideals that originally deprived them of their heritage and cultural roots.

Personally, I think we should go back to calling hipsters what we've always called them: Pussies.

Age 24 in DC

I think hipsters are both hilarious and sad. They hate "white suburban america" but they pretty much champion all the styles of white america from decades ago. Also they are status and materialism and pop-culture obsessed, even though they repeatedly claim to hate all of those things. Hate conformity, all dress the same, etc etc.

The rise of hipsters? Trustafarians and other sorts of hipster haven't gone anywhere, but merely change with the times. When those outside of a particular culture know too many of the words and fashion principles the need for change to distinguish poseurs from the true hipsters becomes apparent. This is also why things becoming popular with the masses correlates with its decreased popularity among hipsters.

On a related note the movie Happy Gilmore illustrates nicely what happens when a member of an outside group excels at one of the in-group's past times. Happy Gilmore's rival is a member of the WASP establishment who wants to defend golf from Happy Gilmore's influence, which is its increased popularity among proles and its attendant drastic change in atmosphere and status. I'm sure there are equivalent movies for squash and crew that have the same underlying message.

I'm 21, living in New York, so the hipster scene is something I see plenty of. I think this article about them being the dead end of civilization is fairly accurate:

http://www.adbusters.org/magazine/79/hipster.html

Essentially what it says is that they're a counter culture that's not challenging anything except the boredom of their own lives. They contribute nothing new to society (and in fact they only like shitty stuff from even shittier decades) and rebel against responsibility despite having very little of it. I kind of look at it like the hippie generation just taken a little farther. The hippies pushed boundaries for what it meant to be a middle class whitey, so the hipsters just have to push it a little farther.

As a caveat, nobody would ever accuse me of being hipster. Apparently I don't look emaciated or poor enough.

Hipster culture in NYC was at it's height around 2002 - 2008, or so. I think most hardcore hipsters are porbably older than 25 now, at least in New York.

Alot of hipster fashion has bled out into the mainstream more, so that, for example, Buddy Holly glasses don't necessarily mark someone as a hipster, anymore.

As far as music, hipsters like to latch onto obscure forms of music, epsecially niche or foreign scenes, like Baile Funk and old (black) Detroit Techno, or indie rock, or something middle America neither knows nor would care about. I'm actually kind of on board with that too, so I don't mention this as criticism, just as description.

It seems to me that this may be something of a phase. I'd be curious to see what becomes of that 2002 - 2008 generation as they settle down and eventually move to the suburbs with their families.

Nerds are social status nihilists. ("Why does anyone need more than one pair of shoes?") Geeks are social status obsessives ("Vibram Five Fingers are so 2009!") Hipsters = Geeks.

I'm a little older than 25, but I have to say I love it.

Because it's so easy to stand out from all the milquetoast hipster boys when flirting with the cute hipster girls. Just show a little bit of spine and halfway there.

I'm 25, and live in Durham, NC -- part of the 'Triangle' metro (check Wikipedia for demographics). Several universities, low cost of living, a history of progressive politics (especially in the neighboring town of Chapel Hill), and a decent food and arts scene mean that we have more than our share of post-collegiate wanderers, who drift in and out of grad school while working part-time at food co-ops.

These types have always been around -- its just that mass media (esp. things like Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter) have made every American aware of the 'hipster' lifestyle: clove cigarettes, sleeve tattoos, PBR, etc. Before cable tv/Internet, an incestuous little subculture could carry on for years, its mythology only captured in 'zines, before poseurs could copy the right fashions and attitudes and invade.

I don't see hipsters glorifying traditionally nerdy pursuits. Hipster D&D night? Hipster LAN parties? The one area in which hipsters and nerds overlap is the delight they both take in "trumping" a friend, a rival, a co-worker with obscure trivia. It's like playing the dozens for college-educated white people.

Hipster culture is the offspring of Hippie family upbringing with a splash of Metrosexual flare and garnished with an interest in punk/indie/art scene, because its suppose to symbolize nonconformity taste and independence.

Pretty ironic that by being a hipster, they are part of social clique.

Hipsters are a bunch of emasculated SWPL faggots. Byproducts of a cultural Marxist society and a single motherhood upbringing. I know women in hipster havens like San Francisco and Seattle that have embraced lesbianism due to their disgust of them. I recall a story in Roissy's comment section a few years ago about hipsters that really struck me. It was a house party and media event in NYC. Apparently some hot chick decided to take her clothes off and swim. The guys were mostly hipster dudes the types who watch Stewart/Colbert religiously. They just stared at their drinks awkwardly while making glances at the babe. Then a woman pulled a party goer aside (Roissy's commenter) and angrily said there were no "real men" in this town. Says it all really. Women hate, hate, hate, beta males!

Male hipsters can get sex. Male nerds cannot. That's the big difference.

I'm 23 and in Seattle, but I mostly avoid hipsters. I had a few encounters with them in college, which was also in the Northwest, so understand my take is a little provincial (at least compared to what New Yorkers offer).

I don't think hipsters are full-on nerds, or geeks. I think that they're relatively normal, it's just that people from my generation have grown up with computers and the internet, and now use iPhones all day. They're not naturally Aspergery, they've just been raised that way.

The ones from my age group were Emos in high school. So, I think they're people who would've been normal folks a couple of generations ago, but have been made "nerdy" because the technology they've been raised on has encouraged antiosocial behaviors.

Hipsters are in big trouble. They all want to work for Apple and yet what few jobs Apple has are in China. Plus what percentage of hipsters have a practical degree and skillset?

This is the brilliance of places like Whole Foods and REI. Hipsters who would never work for Walmart or McDonalds will certainly work for Whole Foods and REI because 'its different' even though they are still just mopping floors and ringing up cash registers for the benefit of stockholders somewhere.

Perhaps hipster culture is a coping mechanism. If you can't find a proper job, you can be a hipster working the camping products section at REI, and then it is 'alternative' lifestyle rather than total life fail. REI can get better people than non-hip retail without paying lots of money.

I think this is the reason Kmart has flopped in the last decade. Kmart confers massive anti-hipster points on its employees and thus gets a much poorer workforce for its money.

[HS: yes, read my post on the loser theory of human behavior:

http://www.halfsigma.com/2011/08/the-loser-theory-of-human-behavior.html ]

"I'm sure there are equivalent movies for squash and crew that have the same underlying message."

For crew, Oxford Blues.

They are the last and the weakest of the various waves of modern bohemian culture. They are far from the worst subgroup as these things go, just not terribly original and a bit pretentious.

I implied that we won't have any more non-conformist, bohemian youth culture in the future and I think that will be the case (the trend is definitely towards conformity), but I'm prepared to be surprised.

I'm actually going to a hipster club tonight. My housemates sister is the lead singer/guitarist in a band that is playing there, so we are all going out to support.

Here's my view on hipsters:

1) They are failed SWPLs who couldn't get the right jobs.

2) They seem to hate their own masculinity (do any of these people go to the gym).

3) The desperately want to be special, but they don't want to do anything risky.

I actually don't mind the "rejection" of materialism. We really do live in a society of abundance were you don't need to strive every minute of every day for cash. But their rejection strikes more of laziness then enlightenment.

Note that one of the big things separating hipsters from nerds is family money. If they can pay your rent while you are unemployed in NYC, your a hipster. If you have to take a programming job to pay your rent, your a nerd.

Unless I'm not getting the definition right, hipsters are represented in various types of employment. They are not all baristas, or art movers, or whatever the stereotype is. I work at an ad agency in NYC. There's dozens of people on my floor who I would categorize as hipsters based on their dress, their interests, and the plain fact that a lot of them live in "hipster" neighborhoods. Most of them are digital producers, copywriters, various creative designers, etc... While some of them lack the ability to send an email without sarcasm, they aren't stupid unintelligent or lazy.

I'm 30 for what it's worth...

Agree Hipsters are SWPL who failed. Either they didn't get the job, were not good looking enough, or failed to compete well in some other niche.

I am shocked with the speed and totality of this movement. Every white enclave in America has seen this come on string over the last few years.

Luckily, the mass adoption of hipsterdom by everyone will cause this movement to wither. I can this being kinda cool if you were the first group of people doing it, but then when even a little more people start to do it it gets old real fast.

"And with regard to hipsters, a lot of them are people who are smart but were unable to compete successfully against preppies and other more successful smart types, so they become hipster in order to convince themselves that they CHOOSE this lifestyle and that they are not losers."

Replace 'hipster' with 'academic' and this sentence works as well.

Both groups are highly Marxist and spend much of their time whining about 'unfairness.'

Being a hipster provides an alternative for someone who cannot afford preppy clothes and/or an expensive car in order to attract the opposite sex. Hipsters cannot afford to be preppies.

There are plenty of attractive male and female hipsters and they don't care much about expensive clothing, cars, or stuff like that (except Apple products). So becoming a hipster lets one get good-looking partners without having to have/make a lot of money.

"Both groups are highly Marxist and spend much of their time whining about 'unfairness.'"

And both can be seen to frequent the People's Republik bar in Cambridge, MA, within walking distance of Harvard Square and has an overtly communistic theme to it. Atomic Bean Cafe also attracts some hipsters.

http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html

"Nerds aren't the only losers in the popularity rat race. Nerds are unpopular because they're distracted. There are other kids who deliberately opt out because they're so disgusted with the whole process.

Teenage kids, even rebels, don't like to be alone, so when kids opt out of the system, they tend to do it as a group. At the schools I went to, the focus of rebellion was drug use, specifically marijuana. The kids in this tribe wore black concert t-shirts and were called "freaks."

Freaks and nerds were allies, and there was a good deal of overlap between them. Freaks were on the whole smarter than other kids, though never studying (or at least never appearing to) was an important tribal value. I was more in the nerd camp, but I was friends with a lot of freaks."

Perhaps your "hipsters" has some similarities with Paul Graham's "freaks"?

So is OWS comprised largely of 20-something hipsters?

I wonder if folks here are familiar with William Strauss and Neil Howe's take on the Millennial Generation and if they think it's accurate.

Nobody's mentioned drugs, but they're a huge part of the hipster scene vis-a-vis the yuppie or SWPL crowds. You're much more likely to see coke in Greenpoint or Bushwick than in Park Slope or the UES.

Another interesting thing about hipsters is that it's considered a derogatory term even among the most ardent hipsters themselves. Of course this has to do with authenticity, because when YOU got a bicep tattoo of the Pontaic Firebird isignia, it was cool, but when someone else gets one, that's really lame.

Is part of the hipster phenomenon the result of so many 20 and 30-somethings finding themselves trapped in grad school?

Does grad school attract the developmentally challenged, or is it the cause of stunted adulthood?

http://100rsns.blogspot.com/2010/09/12-adulthood-waits.html

In any case, it puts a lot of people into poverty who would not otherwise (presumably) be impoverished.

HPA,

There is always a group of successful artist types that are both hipsters and successful. But its the nature of the arts that the vast majority of artists are just wannabes.

Do hipsters have to be college grads?
Because it seems I see alot who are not.
The media prefers to show hipster who are politically and culturally correct rather than say, punks or skinheads or SoCal bros or even metalheads.

@ Miguel Madeira

Thanks for the link. That was a great essay. Props to Paul Graham.

"I wonder if folks here are familiar with William Strauss and Neil Howe's take on the Millennial Generation and if they think it's accurate." - Ripple


Their thesis is that millennials will be a hero generation like the one that went through the depression and won WW2. It's possible as someone has to fix the moral, cultural, and economic rot plaguing this country. The alt-right and OWS are mostly millennial movements so those are good signs but they're numerically tiny. However faith in the system is rapidly eroding thanks to the internet but what this actually leads to is unknown.


"The Baby Boomers, surely the worst that has ever lived in the history of mankind, dragging a once great and glorious civilization through mud and shit. We see parasites, sucking the last drops of blood out of a dying host. We see a generation that has taken the gifts bestowed upon it by antiquity, and utterly failed in its duty to keep them intact for us. We are about to go down in history, either as the generation that rose to a great challenge that circumstances laid at our feet, or one that watched the last few candles go out and did nothing. Either way we choose, we’re going to need to be stronger than we are".

I'm 27 and probably "read" as a hipster in many ways, based on how I look and dress (though not to an absurd degree) and some of the hobbies I have and culture I like. But I'm also conservative and read this blog and have very anti-left, anti-PC views on most things, which is part of the reason why I think hipsterdom is tremendously overrated.

In 20 years, we'll probably look back at hipsters as little more than a broadly middle class youth-based fashion/aesthetic phenomenon, in the same way we look at glam rockers or greasers or various other outdated cultural memes of past decades. I think there's always an effort by armchair anthropologists to find way more politics in these groups than they actually have.

In the 1990s, we were supposed to draw all this meaning out of people like Kurt Cobain and his fans. In retrospect, I think we've now largely concluded that the whole Seattle grunge scene set was mostly just about music and a certain lifestyle aesthetic, with only a very small and mostly superficial political component. I think hipsters are much the same.

"And both can be seen to frequent the People's Republik bar in Cambridge, MA"

The Yelpers for the bar are perfect. HS would fit right in with his value transference pamphlets. I've decided to open a bar called "Das Bunker" in Seattle the instant that Hitler-kitsch becomes as acceptable as this crap. I'll build it beside our Lenin statue.

Hipsters aren't failures; they're the new prestige subculture. If you define 'success' the way the average college student does, you'll want to be a hipster: sex, drugs, and... well, who cares about anything else? Until you're 30, working at REI, and dealing acid on the side, but you've probably got a good trust fund so who cares.

Not studying seems to be a significant part of hipster culture, at least where I am. You'd have to be brain-dead to get below a 3.0 at this college, but some of the most popular hipsters on campus are actually failing.

Hipster culture in a lot of places is an attempt to get as far away as possible from both Middle America and yuppiedom, without sacrificing the Middle American drug habit or the yuppie penchant for half-baked leftism and sushi. It's not so much that at my college, but this place is straight-up Middle America right down to the high school meth fights, so the worst we have is the group of neckbeard-sporting potheads who drifted in from upstate NY. (We've also got a surprisingly large yuppie infestation -- whiny anarchists who complain about getting glared at outside the Walmart for plastering their cars with left-liberal bumper stickers -- but I'm not sure how much they overlap with hipsters. I don't think they'd listen to Pavement, anyway.)

I'm 18, but this is my third semester here.

24 living in nyc, i'd bet i am by far one the "hippest" readers of this blog. Most of the above theorizing and explication of "hipster culture" is beyond silly. To the extent that a "hipster" is anything (it tends to be a slippery term such that any attempted definition of it will likely encapsulate all urban youth, or none of it) it's really nothing more than a young person that lives in the city, is interested in the arts and alternative music and fashion, and likes to party. There is very little more to say about them--"hipster culture" is nothing more than the contemporary iteration of alternative youth culture, a segment of society that has existed in the US since at least the 50s.

It may be worth pointing out that one of the widely recognized "architects" of hipster culture is Gavin Mcinness, founder of vice magazine, who is a strong conservative, I'm pretty sure to the extent that he believes in hbd. I agree pretty much completely with his take on hipster critics readable here:

http://streetbonersandtvcarnage.com/blog/hating-hipsters/

a choice quote

"‘I’ve always found that word [“hipster”] is used with such disdain. It’s always used by chubby bloggers who aren’t getting laid anymore and are bored, and they’re just so mad at these young kids for going out and getting wasted and having fun and being fashionable,’ he says. ‘I’m dubious of these hypotheses because they always smell of an agenda.’”

I feel liker the true defining trait of the hipster is the elevation of style, taste, and esthetics beyond all concern for pragmatism and practicality. They adopt cultual capital purely for it's caché. I mean their interest in obscure Italian tape-splicing genre dub music is probably sincere, but it's elevated by how unique the interest makes them vis a vis their other status hoarding peers.

Maybe the best historical precedent is that of the 18th century dandy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dandy

Hipsters are just nerds with a higher social IQ but a lower math IQ.

JM,

"it's really nothing more than a young person that lives in the city, is interested in the arts and alternative music and fashion, and likes to party"

This is a useless definition. It describes all young people. Who isn't young, living in the city, and interested in music, fashion, etc?

I went to a hipster club last night because my roomates sister was in the band playing there. You could really obviously tell they were hipsters.

1) They all wore "ironic" tight androgynous clothing.

2) They all wore the same style of glasses, and it was obvious many of them didn't need glasses.

3) The walls were full of "shock art" like a picture of satan jacking off. It wasn't particularly skilled, but it was "controversial".

4) Everyone was drinking PBR.

5) Most of the people there I talked to had shitty low paying jobs (despite college educations). They had some vague idea they were going to be artists of some kind, but other then the people on stage none had anything to show for it.

If it was NYC, their parents would probably be paying their rent too. That's what a hipster means to me.

"This is a useless definition. It describes all young people. Who isn't young, living in the city, and interested in music, fashion, etc?"

There are lots of young people in this country who live in small towns in rural communities, like only conventional "safe" genres of music (like classic rock and country), and couldn't care less for fashion. They're also known as the working class.

Your contempt for hipsters sounds a lot like just general contempt for middle class urban youth, which is fine, but I think it's important to realize the two are largely one and the same.

Hipsterdom has gone mainstream. I see lots of teen young adult Nams who would have been gangsta wannabes in the 90s to early 2000s adopt hipster fashion and mannerisms. Skinny jeans, fixed-gear bicycles, those big hockey pucks in the ear lobe, etc. It's really bizarre. Had these Nams been teens in the 90s, they would have bullied people who adopted hipster fashion.

Frankie,

I'm a yuppie urban youth and I'm certainly not a hipster. Being a hipster is a specific thing, your watering it down.

I'm not sure the distinction would necessarily be obvious to an outsider, unless you've very strongly embraced some other subculture.

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