Too hip to be a Hipster?

The search for the definition of a hipster will always be a circular discussion, as it is so evidently paradoxical to its core. Many people have attempted to find a definition for the term “hipster,” questioning whether it is a noun, an adjective, or ever a lifestyle. One thing that is clear about hipsters, however, is how much we love to hate them, and even perhaps, how much they love to hate themselves. The self-loathing aspects of hipster culture comes from the need and desire to be ahead of the trend, and the abandonment of trends once they have gone mainstream, as shown in June’s post of the hipster meme, “Got drunk in Bobst before it was cool.” This behavior can arguably be the out come of socio-economics and the rise and prominence of advertising and consumer culture in the United States today.

The conversation Khaled cites around the term Bobo, coined by David Brooks, is used “to describe the new cultural trend of bourgeoisie bohemians – an upper class subculture that espouses a liberal idealistic philosophy and carries consumer preferences for vintage, shabby-chich, and local, American-made goods.” This definition and concept of the Bobo can be seen in the grand scheme of the hipster. Jake’s reference to the New Yorker cover is a prime example of this culturally educated and aware individual, who reads “upper class” literature and takes part in discussions of the impacts of modernity (the Dandy) upon society today. Similarly, he cites Hedi Slimane’s photo of Sky Ferreira, for Saint Laurent Paris’ pre-Fall 2013 lookbook, as a means of creating a commodity out of “aesthetic innovations of subcultures” (Khaled). Using Ferreira for his lookbook begs for a certain level of cultural capital and simultaneously asks of the viewer or reader for that same cultural capital in return by recognition of who she is as well as the implications of her status. This ties together one of the large aspects of hipster culture – social and cultural capital, with being ahead of the trend.

The term “trust fund hipsters,” is often at the forefront of the discussion of hipster culture, as hipsters are often categorized as “liberal arts college graduates with too much time on their hands” (Grief), who typically pursue careers in the arts and live in up and coming, gentrified neighborhoods in or outside of big urban areas. Their residence, their experience, and their way of living is yet another aspect of their hipster lifestyle. Thus, although subcultures within the hipster community may exist, what all hipsters unite around is “knowing and deciding what’s cool in advance of the rest of the world” (Grief, 3).

June’s post depicting “The Hipster Kit,” lends to the discussion centered on the existence of an actual hipster lifestyle as well as the means in which American consumerism has created this subculture. By showing us what it takes to be a hipster, the poster is essentially quantifying or defining through physical objects/products/commodities who the hipster is.

The question of taste plays a significant role in the attempt to define the hipster, as in the hipster culture, taste is used as leverage to reach a level of authenticity, which in result creates competition. This idea of competition is interesting, as one of the foundations of the hipster mentality is to appear indifferent or apathetic to appearance and outward perception, thus creating a paradox. The images curated for this week could perhaps benefit from a post highlighting the “I don’t care” mentality that characterizes many hipster folk, for example (http://pinterest.com/pin/207517495300320565/) this pointed poster, mocks but summarizes hipsterdom by illustrating distinct “typical” hipsters, clearly insinuating their pseudo-apathetic views while all in all doing so with an overarching layer of irony.

 

Additionally, the idea of pseudo-apathy is highly indicative of hipster mentality, but poses a great contradiction, as taste and being ahead of the trend are also very relevant hipster themes. Furthering the discussion of the Bobo, Mark Greif states, “those superior in wealth use it to pretend they are superior in spirit. Groups closer in social class who yet draw their status from different sources use taste and its attainments to disdain one another and get a leg up.” The idea of superior taste being a direct correlation of socio-economic class is a pervasive and debatable one, as with the influence of advertising and mass media today, particularly the role it plays in hipsterdom, it has become far easier to develop and harbor unique taste. Jake’s choice of the Bushmills Whiskey ad is highly indicative of Khaled’s point that “nowadays one enjoys widespread access to each and every cultural genre and skill regardless of class or education, thanks to the ubiquity of media technologies.”

June’s example of Peaches Geldof, a trust fund hipster, or arguably bobo, standing for a photograph with Cory Kennedy, coming from a middle class family, who “climbed” her way to the top of high hipster culture, as a party photographer, is an example of the collision of these two hipster subcultures. It is also proof to Bourdieu’s argument and his “life’s work to debunk the powerful classes’ pretensions that they were more deserving of authority or wealth than those below” (Grief, 2). Bourdieu’s works, as Grief explains are extremely relevant to today’s discussion of the hipster, as the research he conducted for Distinction, aimed to show the “social logic of taste: how admiration for art, appreciation of music, even taste in food, came about for different groups.”

Furthermore, the existence of these subcultures is yet another example of how hipsterdom is ultimately never-ending and essentially indefinable. There will always be a new kind of hipster, one that is even further ahead of the trends, arguably; perhaps the ultimate hipster is the one that invents the trends, in which case the media is the ultimate hipster. Advertisers and media-conglomerates, fashion designers, artists and musicians who appropriate the gems of the past, who take the most “valuable” or “marketable” aspects of past cultures and subcultures and re-appropriate them into todays mass market and are the truest of hipsters.

 

Examples of other “hipster” blogs:

http://dadsaretheoriginalhipster.tumblr.com/ (too true)

http://unhappyhipsters.com/ (beautiful photos, biting captions)

 

 

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