BY: RYAN BOLTON
“Angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night.” —Allen Ginsberg, Howl
I’m not a hipster. But I wouldn’t say I’m not a hipster either.
Here’s why: I stand by the original sense of the hipster. One that dressed odd, listened to jazz and opposed the mainstream as a beatnik in the 1950s and ‘60s. Hipsters stood against materialism, corporate culture and the rampant militarization of post-WWII America. Today, hipsters stand for pseudo-ironic clothing choices, misplaced condescension and over-wrought underground parties where individuals discuss the hardships of being overeducated and somber because no one is watching them labour away on their “nouveau” novel at the local café. Not Starbucks, café. Oh, there’s a difference.
But truly, the hipster doesn’t stand for anything today. It’s lost all meaning. It’s a vacuous term for a vapid non-culture. Pity.
It’s key to acknowledge that everyone loathes the hipster. Hipsters included. No one will admit to being a hipster, because labels don’t define who they are or some spoon-fed bullshit like that. The word itself is divisive. And the label immediately conjures up a shitty, opaque taste.
But it’s not the hipster’s fault, wholeheartedly.
Today, counterculture in the urban West also happens to have become the mainstream. There is a constant transaction between counterculture and mainstream culture, and no better than today can we witness the vicious cycle of a snake-eating-its-own-tail. Queue the social disdain.
Everyone is unique and different, or so our parents, psychologists and that one special teacher we have tell us. But we wear the same skinny jeans, drink the same piss-poor Pabst, smoke the same Belmonts, and fuck the same half-caring partner. By attempting to be different and against the grain en masse, we are the grain. The supposed counterculture has become the dominant culture, invading the fashion magazines, music videos and reality TV shows of today, a reality no one is eager to admit. It has become the case where the misuse of the word Hipster has in fact become its meaning. No longer does Hipster mean socially conscious, but rather, it means that they have become conscious of social trends.
There are reasons for this quote-unquote counterculture and its forking from its true mores. (And those are big, loose quotes.) Art, music and culture have stagnated on the surface. Nothing is avant-garde. Nothing is pushing the limits. And don’t tell me Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus or Diplo are pushing the boundaries with their attention-seeking antics. It’s all recycled— and anything that isn’t recycled is never allowed to bloom in the first place. Expression has been put in a box.
We’re an entire generation that is overeducated and underemployed. We are sold the same “status quo-challenging” Apple products, which is troublesome, because Apple is the very definition of today’s status quo. Hell, Apple has more cash on hand than the U.S. Reserve. Therein, we enter boredom and a quasi-movement called the hipster, which is a terribly watered down, borrowed version of the original hipster that prioritizes fashion over function.