No one likes a hipster douchebag. Even hipsters with no self-awareness say, “Ugh, I loathe hipsters.” But despite the fact that most people detest that notable too-cool-for-school douchey hipster demeanor, it appears they’re making a comeback. Thriving, as one would say.
Does that mean there must be something to it? Well, no. As the successes of Justin Bieber, the bible, and professional wrestling prove, the fact that something is popular doesn’t make it not stupid.
But before I detail the ways hipsterism is stupid, maybe I should spell out exactly what I mean by “hipster,” lest I fall into the trap of criticizing a straw-man.
Hipsters come in all shapes and sizes. But regardless of their height and girth, they all tend to dress the way black people used to dress fifty years ago. They wear tight pants or tight ripped jean shorts, with a newsboy hat or fedora, and t-shirts with characters from movies you’ve never seen or ironic quotes from books you’ve never read. Oh, and eyeliner. They like eyeliner. And pretentious tattoos.
They detest anything popular or common, and so they rarely wear anything bought at a place like Forever 21 or PacSun. And don’t even get them started on Bloomingdale’s. They’re all about pre-owned stuff (or stuff that looks pre-owned). Thrift stores. Used record shops. Antiques. Stores of that nature. And if they do own anything mainstream, it’s usually purchased at some scene-ey store like American Apparel or Urban Outfitters.
Those are just the physical characteristics, though. Many people may look or dress like a hipster without espousing the hipster mentality.
That mentality can be summarized in one word: condescension.
If you like a popular novel or movie, it’s gauche. If you have a mainstream pop single coming out of your car stereo, it’s uncouth. If you ask, “Who’s that old dude on your shirt?” they’ll reply, “You’ve never heard of Bukowski? Uhh… have you heard of oxygen?”
To a hipster, you’re not cool, hip, or with-it unless every band you listen to is indie, every writer you like is under-appreciated, and every artist you’re familiar with is avant-garde.
Why They’re Stupid
Here’s the thing about hipsters.
For some reason, they can’t enjoy anything that a large number of people find emotionally or mentally stimulating. Coldplay, for example. Or Leo DiCaprio movies. I’m not quite sure what the theoretical limit of hipster acceptance is (i.e. the relative popularity of a given cultural phenomenon allowable before a hipster loses interest), but it doesn’t seem to be very high.
Example, I heard this statement from one particular hipster:
“Tristeza? Oh, yea… I used to listen to them before they were, like, the thing.”
[hair toss, followed by a swig of Pabst Blue Ribbon]
I’ve written about this phenomenon before, a reaction that I have since then officially named The LeBron Fallacy. It’s the tendency of hipsters to label a popular trend as “played-out” and any new fans contributing to its popularity as “poseurs,” which runs contradictory to what someone with a true appreciation of an art form would do.
Another staple of hipsterism is nihilism.
No passions or strong political stances are acceptable to a hipster. If you’re a liberal, you’re too whiny and naive. If you’re a libertarian, you’re an anarchist deviant. If you’re a conservative, you’re a greedy bigot. Atheists and theists are arrogant. Vegans and meat-eaters are ill-informed.
You get the idea.
The problem with hipster nihilism is twofold.
Fold Number One, political affiliations are largely a matter of opinion. They are a set of principles that represent an individual’s worldview and their desired outcome for society. The mere fact that most people are in the middle does not mean that the best option is in the middle.
Fold Number Two, Fold Number One holds doubly true when we’re talking about things that aren’t a matter of opinion. Things like religion. Either a particular religion is true, or it isn’t. Either God exists, or he doesn’t. The two concepts are mutually exclusive. The theist who says “I believe there is a god,” and the agnostic atheist who says, “I don’t believe there’s a god” are non-overlapping demographics. Saying “neither of you are right,” apart from being logically impossible, is nothing more than another douchey way of refusing to identify with any group, just to be able to cling to non-conformity.
If you’re a hipster, my message to you is, no one is impressed. You don’t own a monopoly on cool just because you can quote G.G. Allin and refuse to take a stance on anything. Listening to Coldplay doesn’t make anyone out-of-touch or a poseur, and no one died and made you the king of style.
I doubt they’ll listen. Ah, well.
Maybe if we’re lucky, being a hipster will become so popular that hipsters will be smug and condescending about hipsterism, creating a non-conformist vortex that will cause them to completely pop out of existence in an instant. Keep your fingers crossed.