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Is the Hipster really Over?


28 Thursday 28th October 2010


Dov Charney, CEO of American Apparel, claims “the stereotype of a hipster is not something people aspire to anymore”. With Charney’s hipster attire empire facing collapse, is the age of the hipster finally over? A contemporary subculture emerging in nineties youth culture and next ubiquitous for the next decade, the term ‘hipster’ was coined in the 1940s to describe middle class white youth seeking to emulate the lifestyle of black jazz music. Ginsberg even used it in his 1955 poem Howl, “I saw the best minds in my generation destroyed by madness…angleheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection.” 
The term came back in the 90s when middle and upper-class white kids became associated with alternative music and hip-hop. Famed visual-couture culture magazine, Adbusters, have even said that today’s hipster represents the end of western civilization, a culture so disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new. An article in the New York Times this week asks ‘What was the Hipster’, suggests that the hipster is dead.
Defining a hipster is neiigh impossible as famously no one would ever identify themselves as one – the term almost becoming an insult in recent years. In July 2009 Time described hipsters as people who “sneer when you when you cop to liking Coldplay. They’re people who wear T-shirts silk screened with quotes from movies you’ve never heard of and are the only ones in America who still think Pabst Blue Ribbon is good beer. They sport cowboy hats and berets think Kanye West stole their sunglasses and everything about them is exactingly constructed to give off the vibe that they just don’t care.”
The ‘hipster-look’ sports retro and vintage clothing from previous decades, from the 50s right through to the 90s. They wear ‘ironic t-shirts and love to showcase their irony which usually comes from eighties nostalgia such as pac-man, and smurfs’. Facial hair spans porno moustaches to lumberjack beards. East London’s hipsters can be seen wearing predictable trademark styles such as non-prescription glasses, brogues, deck shoes, skinny jeans or flannel shirts.
The New York Times berated hipster culture for producing tattoo artists, instead of artists; people who used their arms, ankles and lower backs as their canvas; party photographers instead of photographers, from Terry Richardson’s flash aesthetic across to We know what you did last; a culture creating graphic designers rather than painters.
Modelled on the violence and rebelliousness of lower middle class ‘white trash’, hipsters drain the meaning of anything once iconic. Wifebeater t-shirts, trucker hats, tattoo’s and Parliament Cigarettes, once symbols of the working class are now shameless clichés of a subculture seeking to escape its privileged background by immersing themselves in the aesthetics of imaginary authenticity of impoverished.
Multiple books, articles and blogs have been produced over the last decade criticizing them, such as Stuff Hipsters Hate, Look at This Fucking Hipster and Hackney Hipster Hate. The recent viral phenomenem ‘Being a Dickhead’s Cool’ has seriously damaged the street cred of these hipster-types. A cringe worthy perception of today’s reality, the video succeeds as nobody seems immune to its criticism, everybody can relate to it in some way or another. So how can the hipster really be dead? Western civilization has run dry, youth culture maintains cool rather than creating it and therefore has nothing to give for cultural evolution. How to we break free of this endless cycle? The Ad Buster article claims that the kids need to “abandon this vain of existence and start all over”. Essentially, the hipster is a rebel consumer. Maybe they should start making their own clothes and find originality that way


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  • Guest: jrdn.mcrly
    Thu 13 - Jan - 2011, 10:38
    And who cares if its just another clique. Some people like the jock look, some people like the punk look, some people like the prep look. It's just another style, if you like the look than thats awesome. If you don't than than quit being an asshole about it or go away. But if you do than don't think your some trend setting "hipster"(as much as I hate using that word) acting like your some modern day intellectual.
  • Guest: jrdn.mcrly
    Thu 13 - Jan - 2011, 10:26
    I agree with NINA on the issue of art and the credibility on the direction the "youth" have taken it. U cant take a section of a group of people and say they have created the fate of art and what it is and will become. Art and what we have in the past, recently and currently define "hipsters" as are too subjective and vague to pinpoint a generalized path. Secondly, I don't think the type of people this article is talking about aren't even hipsters. I mean with places like american apparel and urban outfitters catering to that image, their idea of what we call hipster is nothing more than another clique. All they are is just another jock or prep or goth or nerd. Just more mass consumerism cleverly disguised with advertising good enough to make you forget it's a lifestyle being advertised. I agree with your ending paragraph though. to really be a so called "hipster", if that word still has any meaning, the best approach in my opinion is essentially to DIY your entire lifestyle. You cant half ass counter culture.
  • Guest: nina4582
    Tue 02 - Nov - 2010, 16:26
    "(...)shameless cliché’s(SIC) of a subculture seeking to escape it’s (SIC) privileged background by immersing themselves in the aesthetics of imaginary authenticity of impoverished." Dear author of this article: First off, grammar flaws should NOT be accepted in any kind of publication. These seem to be ubiquitous on the internet, ironically so, as one can easily access any online-based dictionary. Second, the definition of artist is not limited to the so-called high arts. There are bound to be pioneers and followers of any aesthetic, this phenomenon is not limited to these relatively recent times. And finally, who do you assume is the target audience of this publication??? I doubt you yourself aren't a hipster.
  • Guest: Bartholemew
    Thu 28 - Oct - 2010, 15:14
    Why have you written 'tattoo's'? Is that hipster for tattoos?