A hipster, I am not. Maybe you are. Here’s how you can check: do you wear Buddy Holly style glasses? Do you know who Buddy Holly is? Ride a fixed-gear bicycle? Use lo-fi appliances like typewriters and Polaroid cameras? Gravitate towards 1950s furniture? Collect those re-issued Penguin paperback classics with the orange covers? Have you grown tricky facial hair? A Ned Kelly beard? Are you mad for fonts? Do you hold the mainstream in contempt?
Now you have a better idea of your hipster status (I scored 0. I don’t even know what a fixed-gear bicycle means and I love the mainstream! Hello Coldplay!), those who rated highly be warned: your way of life is under threat. Threat of being mocked.
I promise this won’t be a column that bullies hipsters because hipsters are apparently being bullied in 2011 and that’s not OK. It’s not. Cool people have feelings too. And yet even the advertising industry – which is surely full of hipsters – has joined in with the mocking.
According to a recent article, ‘From Cool To Tool’ by journalist Samantha Seliger Morris about how the tide is turning on hipsters, “…a Honda ad for its compact Jazz vehicle crams in stereotype after stereotype about the group. It has Angus Stone and Maggie Gyllenhaal lookalikes trying to ram an LP record into the CD slot, knit, use a typewriter, compare the car’s black interior and bright exterior to a film by French new wave director Jean-Luc Godard and self-consciously pose for a Polaroid pic while shouting ”Free trade!”
Oh so mean. And yet a little bit funny. OK, quite hilarious. Clearly, many people think hipsters are contrived. Others find them well meaning if earnest. The unfortunate part (for hipsters) is that what began as non-conformist expressions of individuality have become a bit, well, common. Their USP no longer has a ‘U’ in it. The Angus-And-Julia-Stone style of hipster, satirised in the Honda ad, reminds me a little bit of that old adage about teenagers whose MO tends to be: “I want to be an individual, just like all my friends”. Hipsters can be a lot like that, I think. Not better or worse than non-hipsters, just different. While being strangely the same.
I know quite a few hipsters and I know they are hipsters because I can never understand what they’re wearing or reading or doing or talking about. But especially what they’re wearing. You see, people at the pointy end of the fashion plane are easily confused with people who haven’t even checked in yet. Both groups may well be wearing stonewash jeans and white shoes but the hipsters will be wearing them IRONICALLY.
Personally, I don’t have time to be ironic. I’m too busy trying to get my shit together. For example, when I exercise, I wear a bumbag with a Sony Walkman in it. Old school, yes. But this is not because I have a nostalgic hipster preference for a 1980s-style of listening device or because I’m trying to reduce my consumption by making do with a defunct electric appliance. No siree bob. I think my Walkman is annoying and ridiculous, not cool.
I just can’t find a small AM/FM radio that lets me pre-set my favourite stations and I don’t have time to look for one. My bumbag isn’t ironic either. It’s purely utilitarian because I need something sizeable to contain my big fat stupid Walkman. Unlike hipsters, I don’t favour form over function, I favour the path of least resistance. For example, I didn’t start using Twitter because I was an early adopter or because I recognised how genius it is for journalists. I began Tweeting because everyone else was and I didn’t want to miss out.
Truthfully, I’ve never kidded myself about being a hipster nor have I tried to be an early-adopter. I’ve always considered myself vaguely towards the front of the heard but very much a mainstream sheep (Coldplay!). An early sheep. I wonder if that’s a pyscho-demographic term much used by marketers? Should be.
Mostly, I’m completely comfortable with being unhip except when it comes to my eldest son. Since he turned about 12, he’s shown no sign of being even mildly impressed by me and for some perverse reason, he’s the one person I try to convince of my coolness. The more he rolls his eyes, the more insistent I become. Why I feel compelled to do this is a mystery. If I need to feed my ego, I should just go hang out with my toddler who thinks I shine as bright as the sun.
Anyway, as my son patiently points out, my argument lacks logic. “Mum, if you were genuinely cool, you wouldn’t be saying, “I’m cool.” He has a point. Still, I try and very occasionally, I come close. Like when I tell him I know the guys from The Chaser. Or that I talk sometimes on Twitter with Josh Thomas. My trump card was introducing him to Hamish Blake who goes out with one of my friends. For a brief moment, I was cool, if only by very tenuous association. Hell, I can’t dig any deeper. I got nothing better than that.
In case you’d like to be a hipster, here’s a handy guide from Noah the Hipster..
And one from the Bedroom Philosopher..
Do you know any hipsters? Maybe you are a hipster ? How important is “cool” to you?