Saturday, August 9, 2008

On Hipsters

This is probably the best article I have read about hipsters: Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization. It does a great job of not only defining hipsters, but also addressing a number of the problems/inconsistencies with the "movement." Don't get me wrong, I don't hate hipsters. I knew, or was at least acquainted with, a number of hipsters back in Birmingham and they threw great parties and I enjoy their music. However, it is not something that has really appealed to me as a whole, and I think this article makes some of those reasons quite clear.

For further reading about hipsters, The Hipster Handbook really is a great read and does a great job of identifying the intricacies of the hipster sub-types in poignant satire.


A Bryan Photo said...

thanks for saying hey on my blog.
i wish we could have chatted at the wedding!
it looks like we have some friends in common:
-Cary Norton (we shared a studio for two years)
-Brian T Murphy (just met him last month, he took a workshop with me in NYC)

Cool blog, I'm gonna have to check it out more often!

Carrie said...

Judging a movement by its copycats makes debunking easy, but cheap shots don't usually make for valid arguments. Generally, hipsters are politically and environmentally focused, and these views inform their style and buying decisions. If you think it's important to ride a bike to save resources, why not embrace a way to make that unique and cool? If you think it's silly and environmentally irresponsible to shower daily and to keep a closet full of clothes that need constant laundering, so much so that you choose to shower infrequently and wear one of the same three outfits every day, why not find a way to make that look stylish? If people copy your bike and your dirty faux hawk, thereby practically embracing your political beliefs even without understanding them, how is that a bad thing? The idea that "hipsterdom is the first 'counterculture' to be born under the advertising industry's microscope" is ridiculous. Hello hip hop, punk rock, indie rock. Drinking PBR and dressing like blue-collar workers DO represent hipster values: We no longer want to waste our lives in a struggle to "keep up with the Joneses;" in fact, we'll do the Joneses one better and actually spend LESS than we can afford on clothes and beer. Hipsters are devoted to art, especially writing, photography and music. Attending, photographing and blogging about a dance party is an everyday way to enjoy all three. To suggest that music and the written word are culturally irrelevant and that a rock is a more appropriate weapon than a camera is ignorant and frightening.

trip said...


Those are some interesting points that you bring up. However, how can one tell the "true" hipsters from the "copycats"? And, although you bring up some activities and causes that you say that real hipsters care about, but how is one to know whether their initial interest in those activities came as a result of imitating other hipsters? Just playing devil's advocate...

By the way, have you actually seen that "Last Night's Party" website? No matter how you feel about hipsters, I couldn't really see anything redeeming about that site.

Elisa M said...

ok-I am going to chime in. I read the article and laughed a lot, because some of it hit the nail on the head. However, to say that hipsters have no identity of their own and are copycats doesn't seem like a viable arguement. Who cares if they are copycats? Isn't that is how movements start? I am sure that when Civil Rights first started, a few people started it and then others 'copied' them after realizing that it was a good thing. I am not trying to say that hipsters are necessarily changing the world, but maybe they are. Never before have bicycling and recycling and organic food and products been so cool...and I think these are all good things. The pendulum is certainly going to swing in the direction of too popular or too cool (Whole Foods, American Apparel, etc), but is that really a 'problem'? I think that as long as change happens it is not. Of course there are inconsistencies...what big changes come without them? Some hipsters are jokes, but every group has some. Punk certainly went too mainstream after a while, but it is still seen as a movement. So did Rock and Roll. The Beatles were as popular as they come and brought about change in music despite the copycats and mainstream appeal-maybe Wilco will as well. You can't judge a society and movement as it is happening...we need to look at the legacy left behind. Popularizing cheap clothing and bike riding and 'greening'...those don't seem like the end of civilization to me. It is just a redefining.

Patrick said...

The article is pretty critical of their attitudes, and maybe that's legitimate. But, they make good, good music, and that's good enough for me.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip. Now that I am have been ripped from my Southron home to grad school at Cal Berkeley, temporary, I've been searching for a name to describe so many of the kids here -- I think contemporary hipster is it.

Anonymous said...

Let's keep this civil preppy. You don't talk about us and we won't look down at your kind. We will keep our 1-speed bikes, our cameras, our mac pc and our ipods full of amzazing music. And you can keep you giant gas guzzling SUVs and your overpriced pink shirts. I am proud to be a hipster even if the reason I am is b/c my parents will not continue to support their 27 year old son. (kinda limits my clothing budget)
And I am not going to go out and get a real job. I like working in the coffee shop. Now excuse me, while I go and take my weekly bath.

trip said...


I may buy pink shirts, but I certainly don't buy ones that are overpriced. In other words, I don't shop at Urban Outfitters.

Paul Pincus said...

i had caught this piece. terrific.