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Saturday, 1 June 2013

What is a Hipster?

So the other day I was in a meeting discussing business stuff, and something happened.  I made a purposely bad joke to a colleague.  (I really enjoy telling jokes that are bad because I find awkwardness hilarious, and I have some horrible ones.)  After a few blank stares, I explained that I enjoy being ironic.  My colleague's ear perked up, and asked if I was a hipster.  I thought about it for a second, and asked why he thought that, to which he explained that irony is a hipster thing. 

This gave me pause for thought, and I told him that this is an interesting concept, and I told him he has inspired a blog.  He said he would read it, so Chris, this is for you.

So the question in the title, will be the theme today, as we look at what a hipster really is.

Did you notice she didn't have any glass in those glasses?
If you want to be boring feel free to read the Urban Dictionary's definition of Hipster,  I assure you however, that my definition will be much more... well probably close to the same, but I will include pictures with funny captions, so screw you Urban Dictionary.

First off, there are some traits which seem to encompass hipster culture.  The first is big glasses.  Whether they are needed or not.  In fact if they aren't needed, then it's better, because then you can remove the glass, and look even more anvant garde.  Go on, do a Google search for images of hipsters.  They all have glasses.  (For the hipsters reading this, you can use Ask Jeeves.  Google is way too mainstream for you.)  I myself have a pair of thickly framed glasses without glass in them because one year for Halloween, I dressed up as Clark Kent, so I needed them for that day. I have hung on to them so if I wanted to ironically be a hipster I could. However I'd much rather wear my Elvis sunglasses, because Hipster's haven't figured out yet how awesome Elvis sunglasses are.  I have no doubt they will eventually.  Hipsters for some reason tend to copy me.

Best. T-shirt. ever.
It's actually kind of annoying to me that this happens, but unfortunately it is not an uncommon occurrence.  In fact, it happens all the time.  The truth of the matter is I'm more of a geek than I am a hipster, but hipsters tend to follow the geek culture.  For instance...  I am fond of wearing t-shirts with cartoon characters, and video games stuff on them  (Extremely geeky stuff).  I have for years. I wore them because I thought they were funny, a throw back to my childhood, and kind of gave me a look at me type of style.  Shortly thereafter the ironic t-shirt became the uniform of the Hipster.  Other t-shirts styles stolen from me...  wolf shirts, corporate logo shirts, and a shirt with my own face on it giving the double guns. 
Moose t-shirts are a million times better than wolf shirts.

I remember once going to Canadian Tire and being delighted to find shirts with animals on them, and ALL the shirts with wolves on them were sold out.  Damn hipsters anyhow!  I decided at that point, wolf shirts were done, and got a moose t-shirt instead.  So far that has still stayed original.

It's not only t-shirts though...  I started wearing plaid shirts that I had from the 90's in my 'grunge' days.  They were hanging in the back of my closet, because I never update my wardrobe.  (See geek reference.)  It's a fine art trying to put your style on the downside of trends.  Things are 'cool', then everyone does them, causing them to lose their cool.  At that point, only uncool people wear them and get made fun of for it, because it's uncool.  (Note: my wearing of acid wash jeans incident, late 1989.  To this day, I still weep at the mercilessness teasing of those kindergarten kids.  I was 15 at the time.) Now, if you can time it to wait about 3 years after the uncool people stop wearing the fashion, and break it out then...  That's when it is HILARIOUS!  At least I think it is.  Other people probably think I'm a loser, but really...  That's kind of the point of being ironic.

So hipsters love irony.  More importantly, they love to NOT be mainstream.  That's probably the reason they choose not to wear the latest fashion trends, listen to the popular music, frequent the places the masses frequent (Walmart and Starbucks are great examples.), or do anything that the majority of people do.  They pride themselves on being different.  They feel that major corporations don't represent them, and by buying into the mainstream they are supporting the very thing that they are rebelling against.  True hipsters are authentically counter culture, hipster wanna-bes are counter cultural because they are following the counter culture trend. 

Now for the irony...

Hate the beer, kinda love the car.
The accepted beer of choice for the Hipster is Pabst Blue Ribbon.  Now PBR was never a popular beer when you put it up next to the mainstream.  In the States this would be considered Budwiser and Miller, as they dominated the beer market.  Poor PBR was a constant cheap beer that was there, not great, but managed a hold in the discount beer market.  Then hipster culture took over.  Being counter culture, they were looking for a non-mainstream beer, (something that no-one else drank), and they ironically settled on what would be considered the poor mans beer, PBR and other discount brands.  The executives noticed this, and then started an alternative marketing campaign, pushing indie bands, ironic commercials, and every other marketing technique that they use for mainstream beers to promote.  However, they targeted people who wanted to be hipsters and counter culture.  (Also, you should know that PBR is owned by Miller, who in the beer world is considered very mainstream and very predatory.  Very un-hipster.)  The hipster's ate up the marketing ploys, and just like in the mainstream markets, the hipster's started to get corporate brands.

Literally, awesome sauce.
(As a side note, if you truly want to be different in your beer choices, support your local micro-brewery.  Try things you've never tried before and expand your horizons.  It is my rule when I go to a pub and ask what they have on tap, I like to try the one I've never heard of before.  This can be disastrous, or it can be brilliant.  Either way it's an adventure.  Also, if you haven't tried it...  Beau's beer for those in my local area, is frick'n awesome sauce!  I have no idea what their marketing strategy, but if it's making delicious beer, then they succeeded.  In fact, I'm going to crack one open right now.  Are you jealous?)

As PBR started making tonnes of cash by marketing to the counter culture, other corporations took notes.  Now hipsters are a major target for huge corporations.  If you see a commercial or branding that encourages you to be different from the rest of the crowd they are trying to get the hipster market.

Brilliant Marketing
 Of course, it goes with out saying that if your marketing campaign is successful, you've made a crap load of money, but you are now considered mainstream.  But like I said, hipster's love irony.  Which brings me to my last point...

Thinking Different

Before it was cool....

My point exactly...
That could almost be a tagline of the hipster...  Example:  "I used to like listening to The Black Keys before it was cool."  I guess I could say I've been kind of implying that about myself in this blog as I re-read this.  I'm not sure if that was intentional or not, but the original question was if I was a hipster...  The thing is though, and what makes hipsters considered insufferable by society is their better than you, holier than thou attitude.  In fact, this attitude is what has made the 'tag' hipster the laughing stock of the main stream, and why no one, even hipsters don't want to be considered hipsters. In fact, there are very few hard facts about hipsters as a culture accepting this.  A hipster will always deny they are a hipster.  This is because it's not cool to be part of a group.  A hipster wants to be known as different and unique.  Putting them into a societal bucket is what they are trying to avoid, and as such, it is a great insult.  That's why they've done everything before it's cool, or know about things that you've never heard of because it's pre-cool.  Hipster's don't want to be cool, they want to seem cool by not being cool. Of course, if you're not cool, then you're a geek.  Since I was a geek well before hipsters were hipsters, that makes me a hipster before hipsters were cool.  I'm starting to get a headache thinking about this.

So here it is then. Am I a hipster?  If I'm not a hipster, the answer is no, and if I am, the answer is no.  Therefore to maintain my status of wanting to be different, and not follow the mainstream I have to say yes I am a hipster.  And I was, after it was cool.

Enjoys Friday by Rebecca Black which was never cool.