Do you fall between the ages of 18 and 36? Can you appreciate the taste of a decent coffee? Drink something other than a VB, have facial hair, and enjoy going to music festivals? Chances are you're probably a hipster. Even if you're not, you still might actually be one without knowing it.
Yes, yes, yes. We're all tired of all this talk of hipsters. If it isn't writers telling us why we should hate them with articles like this, or telling us why we should love them with stories like this, they're being mocked in advertising that tells us how to be an individual (by all buying the same thing) in campaigns like this one. The hipster, as a concept, has been done to death. And we're all sick of it.
Apparently because, despite all of this, the fact remains that we are still the ones who keep talking about them. Whether it be accusing someone of being one or denying that we are one, the word hipster is now thrown around so frequently to describe everything from fashion choices, music and even types of beer that it would suggest that there are actually more things 'hipster' than there are things that aren't.
Dr Anna Hickey-Moody is a lecturer on Gender and Cultural Studies at Sydney University and is currently working on a paper that looks at the evolution of the contemporary hipster. According to Hickey-Moody the image of the hipster, and what they represent, has been embraced by a range of retailers and brands in order to cash in on their supposed aesthetic elitism, effectively turning the image of the hipster into a marketable product.
“The hipster counter-culture has become increasingly commodified,” says Hickey-Moody. “A modern version of the 19th century Dandy, they have built an exclusive club based around the idea of thinking for yourself and are supposed to be connoisseurs for style … and brands such as American Apparel, Urban Outfitters [or General Pants in Australia] have developed themselves as hipster labels.”
Much like the word 'bling' was appropriated by the white middle-class from urban rap music, the term 'hipster' has, due to its overuse, now lost its punch. The fact that we are even writing about them as a topic in what would no doubt be considered mainstream media suggests that they have not only become part of the mainstream, but might actually be the mainstream.
Christiaan Van Vuuren, one half of "The Bondi Hipsters", has gained a cult following on YouTube (language warning) by portraying a stereotype of the hipster male. But when he was asked to define what they are, even he was hard pressed to come up with an answer.
“I don't actually know any more,” says Van Vuuren. “It [hipster] feels like one of those terms that only uncool Dads should be saying, because it's been so overused in the media!”
Van Vuuren, along with friend and fellow actor Nick Boshier, gained international infamy for their videos portraying an extreme parody of the hipster image, ranging from their distaste for anything that was considered popular to their rather ambiguous sexuality. But what the videos also succeeded in doing was to make the term a household word.
“They're everywhere now,” explains Van Vuuren, “and they are probably hungover. Look in any café in Bondi, Surry Hills, Paddington, Newtown, Stanmore, Enmore [or Carlton, Fitzroy, Northcote and Brunswick if you're from Melbourne].” On a side note, online retailer The Iconic has also jumped on the hipster bandwagon, now using the pair's characters Dom and Adrian as part of their latest advertising campaign.
The whole point of a hipster was, at its core, not just about being original, but about existing outside what was popular with the masses. As more and more brands and marketers begin to cater to the hipster aesthetic, the reality is that it's those people who aren't buying into this image that now represent the minority who allegedly think for themselves.
“Technically, hipsters are still about independent thinking,” explains Hickey-Moody. “And while this 'lifestylisation' should craft a thinking individual, it often it shapes a person who buys brands because they match a look rather than because they are meeting an individual need.”
Which means that you could almost say that not being a hipster is the new hipster. Which is, like, clearly very ironic.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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