Too hip to be square: unlocking the myth of hipsters

Most people don’t know what a hipster is. The term connotates some kind of bizarre social group. Hipsters are not entirely new. The slang term “hipster” was actually coined in the 1940s, to describe jazz kids. Fast forward to the present; the term is ubiquitous.

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By Corinne Love

By Corinne Love

Most people don’t know what a hipster is. The term connotates some kind of bizarre social group.

Hipsters are not entirely new. The slang term “hipster” was actually coined in the 1940s, to describe jazz kids.

Fast forward to the present; the term is ubiquitous.

So what exactly is a hipster?

Urban Dictionary defines “hipster” as “people in their teens to twenties who generally listen to indie rock, hang out in coffee shops, shop at the thrift store, and talk about things like books, music, films and art.”

Pop culture sites like gawker.com have devoted megabytes to deconstructing the hipster, if not developing a love-hate relationship towards them.

Gawker often stalks the poster children for the hipster culture, New York DJ trio the MisShapes.

The MisShapes, like many young celebrities, are famous for relatively nothing.

Throwing parties every Saturday in New York’s art-district; they catapulted to cult status fame for the celebrity sightings (Madonna and Sienna Miller) at their weekly parties.

And while hipsterdom seems to be exclusively New York culture, areas in Southern California are witnessing an expansion of young adults tied to indie culture and art.

However, for the rest of us, what does hipsterdom actually translate to?

It translates to that intangible idea of “cool.”

For a social experiment and plain curiosity, I became a hipster for a week.

I dressed like one of the people you may find hanging out at a coffee shop. I stayed informed on the latest and “hip” blogs and I attended L.A.’s Clockwork Orange.

Being “hip” I realize, may be easy work for some, but it requires an almost unhealthy desire to be culturally two steps ahead of everyone.

At Clockwork Orange, a friend and I mingled and danced with the hipsters in their very own electro-clash indie-rock dance room.

No one seemed aware that just last week we were the same people that they had stared at with raised eyebrows.

Our assimilation worked perfectly.

We both noticed that those who subscribe to the hipster philosophy seem to be attitude conscious of themselves and others.

Unlike hip hoppers, punkers or any counter culture, this group exists in a super saturated vacuum of media influence.

The media influence on hipsters is partially ironic; a staple of hipster culture includes the occasional pop culture reference.

This approach to irony has led to a growing number of hipster-haters.

In fact, it’s become “hip” to show distaste for hipsters, like on thepopular hipstersareannoying.com.

Hipster-hating resorts back to the “outsiders” in High School taking jabs at the “cool” kids because they are “cool.”

The irony is, the “cool” kids have adopted or co-opted much of what was considered “nerdy” or socially unfavorable.

The other camp of hipster-haters include hipsters themselves who dislike the concept altogether.

A friend of mine did not understand what purpose being “hip” serves. She, like many others, has no want or need to follow trends.

The question remains though: why should one group of people be able to signify what is hip?

In our culture, consumers have become increasingly enamored with pop culture and its excesses.

As a result of this,by the time this article is read, many who spearheaded hipsterdom will be claiming that it is “dead.”

Like many facets of pop culture, hipsters may eventually fade,disappear and resurface in other avenues of social culture.

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