Just last week, an acquaintance of mine approached me on the path leading up to the Campus Center. Upon looking me up and down, she said to me, “So Zach – you like Death Cab for Cutie?” Considering I have quite an affinity for the Seattle based quartet led by the sentimental songbird Ben Gibbard, there was no question about it. I simply replied, “Yes.”
“Well, well, well. Aren’t you a f–king hipster.”
Hold the phone. A hipster?! I was addressed as a mythical beast – a culture-whoring, self-important, pretentious, Equal Exchange coffee-loving, all organic, East Village-dwelling animal – which I had only heard about in passing. It wasn’t until I had personally been called one that I stopped for a moment to glance over the categorical placement I had been suddenly thrown into.
I mean, I’m not going to lie, I very much love fashion: you can often find me in American Apparel, H&M, Forever 21 for Men, the Salvation Army, and my father’s wardrobe. Oh, and I love a good cardigan or scarf. However, I have been wearing clothes of this particular style since I was a pre-teen (about seven or eight years ago).
Therefore, the fact I dress in the ‘hipster’ style is absurd considering I did it before there was even a style.
Also, I will agree that a large portion of what makes a person a hipster is the music they listen to. With that in mind, is it possible for someone just to like really good music? Is it possible for someone to respect musicians? Is it wrong for someone to not only have an album on his laptop, but also on compact disc as well as vinyl?
To non-hipsters, the answer to these questions is quite apparent: yes. It may be a leap in saying that the music that rules my generation is primarily what’s on the Billboard Top 40, but it still seems that way nonetheless.
That said, when a smaller band hits it big, it’s a sign of quality and more often than not, the aforementioned band becomes a part of the mainstream corporate monster that is the American culture. For example, when Modest Mouse hit the big leagues with their album Good News for People Who Love Bad News, I had nothing but good things to say (considering that I started listening to them before they hit it big).
Another quality that “hipsters” have is that they want to get involved in making the world a better place through environmental and humanistic causes. On the whole, however, I feel like people naturally like to donate their time and money on things that are worthwhile if it causes positive change.
Hybrid cars? They are fuel efficient and have a lower carbon footprint than those behemoths people call ‘Hummers.’ Livestrong bracelets? Testicular cancer is a major problem, but it is still not as big as breast cancer which is why people also need to get an “I Heart Boobies” bracelet. Invisible Chidren? Genocide is about as bad as the meat packing industry. Vegetarianism? Easy – it allows one not to support the meat packing industry (unless, of course, you get your meat from a free-range farmer which is perfectly fine).
The biggest characteristic of “hipsters,” however, is that they don’t identify themselves as “hipsters.” It’s actually quite ironic that this is the determining factor of what makes someone a “hipster” considering it means that they follow a social construct ultimately making them buy into an element of social order.
It’s oxymoronic in the grand scheme of things as hipsters purposefully go out of their way to not follow what is deemed as mainstream ideology. This causes the existence of the demographic to be essentially paradoxical in nature and ridiculous.
So where does this leave me? I have decided to embrace this new title that has been endowed on me. After all, I have believed the things I believe and I have dressed the way I dress and I have listened to the music I’ve listened to for quite a long time.
If that means the only determining factor as to whether I’m a hipster is to deny it, I refuse to. After all, that seems like the most rational and anti-hipster thing to do – to go against the grain.