I have just launched a site and mobile app called Hipster at http://www.hipster.mobi and would like to give some background.
Hipster has become a term for people who dress and act cool taking elements from past styles. Unfortunately and somewhat unfairly it has become a derogatory label – so much so that very few people say they are Hipsters.
I am a Hipster
Let’s take a look at a little “top of the head” history. To be hip comes from hep – some jazzy black term. We had the Beatniks in the 50′s who were Hep Cats and we had the Mod and Psychedelic Hip Cats in the 60′s. 60′s punk and early psychedelic folk wore Hipsters – pants that were low on the hips held up by big belts. These often flared at the bottom – flares. Not bell bottoms – Hipsters.
In the past, styles tended to last for a longer time and as time passes, eras get remembered for certain styles. I created a site in the early 2000′s called Hip Cats at http://www.hipcats.com. There are examples of Hip cultures – Beatnik, Psychedelic, Surf, Goth, Cyberpunk and Urban. On the Scoop page there is a history section for each of these genres. There are also relevant songs, books and films listed.
These days, with many more people, accessible historical media – movies, TV, songs, the Internet, etc. styles have become much more varied and mixed. There still are some unique forays and spinoffs like punk, indie-pop, nerd, emo, clubbers, etc. but over the last few decades, kids started liking everything – or a wide variety. I would go up to someone who looked like a mod and ask them if they were a mod and they would say no – and on occasions, they would answer they did not know what a mod was. They could not say what their favorite type of music was – they liked everything. I have mixed emotions over this response – it seems on one hand that they are not trying hard enough – like they have not researched and felt a passion. On the other hand… it is an inclusive attitude.
Perhaps it is this lack of historical perspective that has led to concerns of the authenticity of modern day hipsters. There is merit in this criticism but let’s go a little easy on the youth. First of all, wise people say this kind of stuff does not matter – who cares what you dress or look like, etc. I care because it is fun to care, what I wear is self expression. Do I care if a girl likes to wear mod dresses but does not know their history – not really, I am pleased to tell her of its history. I think we are drawn to certain styles regardless of knowledge of the deeper culture. And the deeper culture is born from people who share interests so let’s take a more supportive and nurturing attitude.
Attitude is another issue with the current Hipster. To be cool is to often be reserved. This sometimes comes across as being better than thou. This side effect has been there right from the start of hipness. So now we have this backlash of you think your so cool… we hate or we laugh at you hipsters, etc. And then this feeds the standoffishness, etc.
I have never condoned being too cool to communicate. I am more zany and outgoing and inclusive – hipsters embody all sorts of people. I think for the most part, the values of current hipsters are good. They care about the environment – riding bikes, eating local food. They are into cafe discussions, reading – they tend to be nerdy and intelligent. This is what I assume – perhaps there are hipsters that do not share these values but for the most part, I think their outlook is positive and commendable. Treat them like humans and I am sure that they will be kind and even a good influence on your life.
There is the issue of being labeled. I suspect that nobody likes to be labeled. I suppose if people include the “snooty attitude” and “lack of authenticity” issues in the label then perhaps I would not like to be labeled a hipster. But if a hipster is just someone who IS hip – then I don’t mind that label. I understand the striving to be unique but I say to you, if you ARE hip – then you are a hipster.
Comments welcome and please try out the app and have some fun. http://www.hipster.mobi
Dan Zen – 2013