By Huntress Thompson
So a friend of mine sent me Paste Magazine’s glorious The Evolution of the Hipster this week, which is one of the best things that has ever happened to my little computer screen.
It starts from the little emo surge, and tracks hipster evolution from Vans through to brogues pretty comprehensively.
But, as anyone who hates idiots as thoroughly and recreationally as I do knows, the superficial isn’t what we’re hating here.
The clothes, the music, the accessories, even the past-times – these are just signifiers. They just make hipsters easy to identify.
We’re hating the signified.
I’ve had a bunch of conversations recently where I hear about people who hate hipsters, but clearly seem to be hipsters themselves. They’re wearing the clothes, they’re sitting in the shitty, artsy café, and some insipid creature in a fedora walks past and they go, “Fucking hipsters”. And this is the rub.
There’s a little current of terror that runs through most people who are into alternative things, and that is the fear that you might be a hipster yourself. The interests overlap so easily.
I do like Bon Iver (a lot, actually).
I do believe there are things captured on vinyl records that will never fully translate to any other forms of recording.
I do like folk music.
I do get excited about the novelty of discovering a band before other people have, because then I get to feel like a dorky little pioneer, and I get to tell my friends about it and watch it grow on them too.
I have some investment in eating healthy, morally manufactured food.
I think men with 1950s-inspired hair swooshes (right) are really attractive, era irrespective (like Johnny Depp in Cry Baby, or anyone whose name ends with Simonon).
I rock a lot of cardigans (usually not at once).
I do like the idea of finding a little pocket of cool that’s removed from most people’s tastes, because most people’s tastes are moronic, but I’m not about to claim my preferences as exclusive.
I’m quite fond of dated, vintage fashion aesthetics.
But I’m pretty sure that might also describe a lot of people whose tastes run into the alternative. These are interests, and they’re largely trivial. No one hates any of these things independently, and I really don’t think any of them on their own makes anyone a hipster, so maybe we could take some comfort in that.
Because you know what does make you a hipster? The fucking effort.
Hipsterness is reliant on a personality that works at constructing an identity.
You might actually like hipster things, but you might also pretend to for appearances. You might also pretend not to like other things that you’re actually quite fond of (like cheesy 1980s ballads or KFC) so that people will think of you one way and not another.
You might work at a series of ironic references and catchphrases to drop into group conversations, hoping to appear shrewd and intellectually superior.
You might take to writing incomprehensible pieces of drivel about obscure old albums and tagging all your Facebook friends in it for the spectacle of appearing cryptic and clever.
You might laugh extra loud when the TV show you’re watching breaks the fourth wall or does something meta, so everyone knows you got it.
No one hates hipsters for dressing weirdly. We love weird. What’s hateful, specifically, is the tremendous effort you’ve put into seeming weird for weird’s sake.
If you think about it, this might not even be hipsterness that we’re hating. What this behavior makes you is a fucking scenester, the most abominable, obnoxious creature of all.
It’s the same thing we hated about most emo kids. And some goths. And pseudo-intellectuals. And trance bunnies. And metal heads. And punks. And indie kids. Really, anyone in any cultural subdivision of the alternative that tries too hard.
Everyone’s personalities fall somewhere across the genres, often in the grey areas between them. But the minute you try and convince an imagined audience of what you are instead of blithely being that way, anyone with any sense will smell that a mile away and hate you for being an odious little scenester. I do, anyway.
I don’t know how many other people feel this way, but for my part, I think we should probably just like what we like, and fuck what people think of us for it.
I have always found Buddy Holly glasses attractive, because I’m obsessed with the 1950s and I actually think Buddy Holly was really attractive, which might make me some sort of deviant.
But if you’re wearing Buddy Holly glasses because you’re trying to be ironic, or for attention, it just makes me want to kick you square in the skinny jeans, primarily because I mistook you for someone who was actually interesting. I mean, you have all the props, and you nearly tricked me into liking you.
I really hope I haven’t launched into this whole diatribe just because I was worryingly attracted to that idiot at Wolves with the hair swoosh and comically oversized spectacle frames. Fuck. That’s probably it, though.
PS. While I have your attention on this, the rolled-up trouser leg? Step in the wrong direction. No one has ever been driven to wild, orgiastic frenzy by the sight of the male ankle. No one. I mean, I’m not an anthropologist or anything, but I’ll stick my neck out on this one.
In the vacuum between dark and light, Siouxsie Sioux and Emmylou Harris, Amelie and Travis Bickle, Huntress Thompson is an idiot lost, and reporting from the field. If you’re after irrational, impassioned rants about cupcakes and Johnny Cash (and you probably aren’t), she’s grumpy, but she’s your girl.