Saturday, May 14, 2011

defining "hipster"

A comprehensive-yet-grating-on-so-many-levels definition of the word "hipster" is available at the Urban Dictionary. Whoever wrote the "winning" definition decided to pretend that the site was an online encyclopedia and not a dictionary-- that entry is pretty damn long. Unintentional hilarity in this section of the "definition":

Although hipsters are technically conformists within their own subculture, in comparison to the much larger mainstream mass, they are pioneers and leaders of the latest cultural trends and ideals. For example, the surge of jeans made to look old and worn (i.e. "distressed"), that have become prevalent at stores such as The Gap, American Eagle, Abercrombie and Fitch, and Hollister, were originally paraded by hipsters who shopped in thrift stores years before such clothing items were mass produced and sold to the mainstream consumer. The true irony here is that many of the detractors of hipster culture are in fact unknowingly following a path that hipsters have carved out years before them. This phenomena also applies to music as well, as many bands have become successful and known to mainstream audiences only because hipsters first found and listened to them as early-adopters of new culture. Once certain concepts of fashion and music have reached mainstream audiences, hipsters move on to something new and improved.

Too, too rich. The writer is obviously a hipster himself, and he wants to have it both ways: hipsters defy and define the mainstream. Can one really be both a part and apart? I don't think so: every mainstream has its vanguard, and that vanguard is still just part of the mainstream.

And say it with me, boys and girls: "Phenomena" is PLURAL!

I guess "independent thinking" means "liberation from rules of spelling and grammar."



SJHoneywell said...

1) Everyone conforms. The size of the group differs. Typical anti-conformity is nothing more than conformity anyway--if I dislike something because it's "too mainstream" then I'm still letting the mainstream determine my taste. After all, the other side of the coin is still a part of the same coin.

2) I noticed the phenomenon/na thing. It grated.

3) NO ONE is free of spelling and grammar rules. Even e e cummings followed rules that allowed for interpretation.

4) Yes, the original author is undoubtedly a self-defined hipster. No non-hipster would be able to write this sort of "noble cultural warrior" prose without sicking up.

Charles said...

I bet the author wrote that in an independent coffee shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, sipping his cappuccino and feeling quite good about himself.