So I get sent a video the other day that documents a French immigrant’s struggle to understand English, specifically the word “hipster.”
Hey, Miss, get on board. No one else understands it either. From the bewildered and offended hipsters she interviews to the guy on last.fm who told me my taste in music was “entry level hipster garbage,” the word doesn’t really have a concrete meaning anymore (if in fact it ever did) and is now more like a generic insult than anything else. When you get called a hipster because you like Arcade Fire, who won a friggin Grammy (note: I do not like Arcade Fire), we have a word that has gotten too big for its original connotations. Too mainstream, if you will.
The hipster is sort of this cultural boogeyman, a vague ‘other’ that exists outside of the person using the word. It’s one who likes everything you don’t know anything about, and sometimes ruins the things you do know about, just by listening to them/watching them/knowing about them. But it’s always someone else: no one ever calls themselves a hipster. Not even that guy in the video with the sixtyten facial piercings and the jeans so tight that he must have used a crowbar to get into them that morning. Someone else is a dirty hipster, someone else is inauthentic enough to stop listening to a band once they get a big break, someone else is asinine enough to ask for a vegan meal at a steakhouse. Not me, never me.
It’s this ridiculous paradigm that sets up the absurdity of someone with thick-rimmed lensless glasses wearing a scarf in June, sipping a free-trade latte denouncing some other person as a hipster. What they have in irony, they lack in self-awareness. Remember that hipster trap from a while back? Odds are pretty good that a hipster set it.
At this point I’m just going to show the video and ask what you think. Is “hipster” a meaningless term? Or does it just mean “every white person living in an urban area”? Am I thinking too hard about this? Where does “hipster” and all the people unwillingly labeled as such, go from here?