• Mon, Aug 30 2010

Why Do We Hate Hipsters?

Yesterday, one of the questions on facebook was “If there was a button you could press that would kill all the hipsters in the world, would you press it?’ And I thought “what’s the deal with this whole facebook question thing? I don’t get how this works.” And then I thought, “you know, that seems a little extreme, because mass genocide is rarely the rarely the right answer. [Some vaguely recalled Einstein quote].” Then a friend pointed out that in the past week I had said that all hipsters should die in a fire at least three times.

Which caused me to wonder: why do I hate hipsters? Why does anyone? And seriously, how does facebook questions work?

Maybe the best place to start is to define the word. Wikipedia tells me that “Hipster is a slang term that first appeared in the 1940s, and was revived in the 1990s and 2000s often to describe types of young, recently-settled urban middle class adults and older teenagers with interests in non-mainstream fashion and culture, particularly alternative music, indie rock, independent film, magazines such as Vice and Clash, and websites like Pitchfork Media.”

That doesn’t bother me, as I like a lot of things on that list. Hell, my very conservative father likes a lot of things on that list (well, independent films. One thing).

I actually like a lot of stuff hipsters like. Not American Apparel. I hate American Apparel. But other stuff. I love Vampire Weekend. I love Joan Didion. I sincerely wish that we could get an In-N-Out burger in New York. I sort of hate those black and white films where French people go oui-non-oui-non-oui-non to each other forever (Hiroshima, Mon Amour, I’m talking to you) but I do love me some Fellini. Theoretically, I should be friends with bunches and bunches of hipsters. But I’m not. Because I think they’re awful.

I don’t think this is just because the co-opted things I actually enjoy. I like the things I like to be popular. It means that people will make more things like them, and I can go hear Vampire Weekend in Central Park rather than having to go out of my way to find them.

And I don’t think their affection for those things is insincere. I mean, maybe it is, my friend Elizabeth tells me it is, but come on, it’s not all that hard to like In-N-Out burgers. It’s not hard to appreciate 1950′s photography and Ra Ra Riot. Those things are cool.

But I also don’t believe that going out to see a film about the Warsaw Ghetto makes me inherently better than someone who wants to go see The Other Guys (really funny movie, by the way. The Other Guys. Not the Warsaw Ghetto one. That one wasn’t funny at all, and they really could have lightened the mood with a few jokes). My problem with hipsters has nothing to do with their interests. It has to do with the fact that their interests have turned them into smug, unbearable assholes. They do take themselves so very, very seriously.

I still remember the first conversation that made me hate hipsters. Normally I re-enact this conversation with hand puppets and dinosaur voices (for serious) but since you’re not sitting in front of me, I’m just going to write it like a one act play.

The action takes place in a crowded party at the New Museum, 2008. It’s reminiscent of the setting of a Noel Coward play, except that the DJ is playing “Take A Load Off Fanny.” The time is between midnight and 4:00 in the morning. The New York skyline sparkles behind the window. The door left center, elevator center stage, DJ booth left.

Hipster boy appears wearing a fedora and suspenders, clutching a can of PBR which he brought himself. Walks towards Me.

Me is a wistful looking, big eyed girl of 22, wearing a 1950′s style blue dress and a white headband, sipping a Diet Coke, tentatively, as though afraid that it might be spiked with this thing called booze.

Hipster Boy: So, what do you DO?

Me: Oh, I’m a writer. I write for [Me names whatever trade magazine Me was freelancing for at the time, mostly likely Trawler Today or Pastry Chef Daily. Certainly "What's Up Annapolis."]

Hipster Boy: I meant like, what’s your passion?

Me: Oh, umm, I enjoy it. Writing. The writing, I like it a lot. What about you!? What do you do? Or umm, is your passion?

Hipster Boy: Well, I [am an Internet celebrity.]

Me: Cool! I’ve heard of that! That must have been really interesting, how did you get the idea…

Hipster Boy, waving his hand abruptly: So, do you have a tumblr?

Me: No. I’m really not all that good with technology.

Hipster Boy: Why don’t you get one? You could like, write on it.

Me: Well, frankly, I’m at a point where I really want to be paid for my writing. I want it to be my job, not just my hobby.

Hipster Boy: Wow. You must really not like to write.

Me: Fuck. You.

What was your favorite part of the play? My favorite part is the part where Me says “fuck you.” Want to be in on a secret? The Me character? That was me!

Now you could say, Jennifer, that was one isolated asshole. That’s not indicative of anything about hipsters in general. To which I’ll say “It must be nice living out there, far away from Brooklyn. Is it fall in Montana, yet?”

Because I seem to end up having the same conversation every time I talk to a hipster. Basically, all of their conversations seem to indicate that they believe that they have a higher understanding about the world because they’ve seen a few Godard movies, and you should work to prove yourself to them. And why should you have to work to prove your intellect and “integrity” to a freelance stylist who doesn’t appear to actually do any styling work? You wouldn’t. That would be ridiculous.

In conclusion: Hipster Dinosaurs will probably be the funniest thing you see all day.

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  • nolalola26

    A) I hate hipsters because they don’t actually like the things they say they like, they just say they like them because some sweaty asshole in a dirty Nada Surf t-shirt said they should. Basically, they’re trying to act all iconoclastic while being exactly mainstreamed with their generation. How many teenagers do we see being unironic these days? None. Which means there’s no such thing any more.
    B) Hipster dinosaur made me laugh a lot.

  • Jessica Pauline Ogilvie

    Love this post! Also, I have a question. Is it a hipster thing in New York to like In-N-Out burger? Because if those selfsame hipsters lived in LA, they’d probably be way too cool for In-N-Out burger — everyone here loves it, regardless of whether they play in indie rock bands to empty rooms or not. So does that mean something is cool enough for hipsters only if they can reference it and be relatively certain that at least one person in the room won’t know what they’re talking about? It starts to boggle the mind…

  • B McC

    Best definition of hipster I ever heard:

    “A Hipster is someone who spends a lot of money trying to make people think he’s poor.”

  • Embrodak

    It has to do with the fact that they’re intests have turned them into smug, unbearable assholes.

    Agreed, except…

    “…they’re intests…” Ouch.

    • Jennifer Wright

      My bad. It’s changed.

  • Beth

    The reason any silly little trend annoys me, being “hipsters” or “goths” or “emos” or whatever is popular at that time, is that they seem to think they are so original while they are, in fact, less original than a majority of the population. There is an episode of South Park which highlights this perfectly. It’s focused on the goth kids. They say other non-goths can hang out with them, but only if they dress the exact same as them and listen to the exact same music as they do, but if they don’t hang out with them than they are “conformists”. But if they basically act the same as all the other goth kids they are “non-conformists”. Same idea, different trend. That’s why I usually think of hipsters as being teenagers, and not adults. I like to assume that most people grow out of that dumb “I need to define myself!!” phase eventually. Unfortunately, this is not always true :(

  • Liz

    I was told there would be a link to a coloring book….?

  • Katy

    Thank you Thank you Thank you for this!

    So I will admit , I had a BRIEF stint of loving hipsters. Ok … it MAYBE wasn’t that brief … it was maybe a bit drawn out. I loved them … dearly! Part of me still does, I won’t lie! But every time I tried to put on something from Urban Outfitters and feel like myself I just couldn’t! Do you know how many Urban Outfitters things still sit in my drawers with the tags on because every single time I put them on I look in the mirror … tug at the odd fitting forms that are sitting on me (oddly short, weirdly blousy, all out itchy … so many things) … and then rip them off annoyed that I bought them in the first place thinking I could pull them off. I even made out with a hipster, singer/songwriter for over a year! I wanted to REALLY like him … but even though it was always fun and he was a really good kisser I would leave annoyed because something just didn’t fit! I continued in this self destructive pattern for some time. Wandering into American Apparels and laying my hands on the overpriced deep vs and shiny stretch pants and then walking out with my head down and venturing back into Banana Republic where I belonged!

    What is the difference between that Katy and the current one? WELL … I feel like I can embrace parts of hipster life (I too LOVE Vampire Weekend and am a bit obsesed with the side project they have with Ra Ra Riot called Discovery! … independent films … biking … hole in the wall restaurants … lounging on grass while reading – except when it leads to bug bites … then I’m annoyed … mac products) BUT at the end of the day I feel like I can love parts and still walk into banana republic, jcrew, and gap and be fine being me! I’ve traded in my Urban Outfitters weird colored skinny jeans for a Burberry esque trench (BR … last fall … ON SALE) and my singer/songwriter makeout sessions (we were both usually tipsy and yes … I think he was probably drinking PBR) for glasses of wine and an financial representative boyfriend who told me to program where I liked my seat into his Mercedes with a license plate that says NVESTER (HAHA – TRUE STORY … it was really sweet of him though … the license plate makes him seem like a d bag but he really isn’t … I ridicule him constantly for his lapse in license plate judgement) … BUT when I get in my car and Contra is playing loudly (because I love blasting it on my way into work every morning) I don’t feel like I am cheating on either side of myself … you can have both!

    If I were this me and had to relive the scenario of Joe (my former hipster makeout buddy) in his classic skinny levis jeans and resale tshirt looking at me like I was an idiot when I pronounced Bon Iver wrong (I’m SORRY … I didn’t know someone from Wisconsin would throw In French-ish pronunciations) I would say what Jennifer said that night in NY … F you! Instead of feeling like an idiot and wishing I had kept my mouth shut so I didn’t face demoralizing hipster judgement!

    Sorry hipsters … I am SO over you making everyone else feel like underlings! Your just not THAT cool … and YES … you DO actually care what people think of you … don’t lie to yourselves!

  • Liz

    I was told there would be a link to a coloring book…?

  • Kristen

    They have hipsters in Montana, well, in Missoula, at least. That’s how widespread the epidemic is. North Dakota might be free of them, I’m not sure.

    What I am sure of is this, be thankful you don’t live in a place where the hipsters outnumber us Philistines, like Seattle (which is where I am from and where I now live) or Portland (which is where I once lived). That shit is tough.

  • RMJ

    If you hate hipsters, you probably are one. Just saying!

  • JBlitzzz

    I went to school in New Jersey. Now I’m at art school. It’s like trading guidos for hipsters. They should have trading cards, that would be more fun.

  • Eric

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d love to hear the dinosaur version of that conversation.

    I had several friends in college who stopped talking to me once they found out that I still didn’t think smoking was supercool, even after they declared themselves hipsters.

    Hipsters can be fun, though. I once went into a record store in the heart of Wicker Park (the epicenter of hipsterdom in Chicago) dressed in my normal loser fat guy clothes and asked for a bunch of albums by bands they’d never heard of. They hate that.

  • Dreamlander

    Haven’t you ever thought that your writing had more chances to be noticed if you had a tumblr? No wonder you have no idea how people become Internet celebrities.

  • MrTokarev

    If you really said that to the guy at that party, then you are my hero. If you really want to get angry, read the #1 definition for hipster on urban dictionary. It was totally written by a hipster. It made me want to gouge out someone’s eyes. Ironically of course.

  • h

    “take themselves too seriously”

    TOTALLY agree. It’s like that comic book nerd who has to endlessly one-up you with their obscure knowledge of the most trivial things…

    You like at ‘em like: “Dude, it ain’t that serious. Shut up.”

  • mimzi

    The writer of this article is probably a hipster.

  • yon

    *Reads article*

    Hmmmm.. I’m curious.

    *Googles author*

    Ah, I see. Bangs cut halfway across face, polka dot print dress and drinking out of…. Campbell’s soup can? A self-loathing hipster, one who is such a hipster herself that she feels the need to declare her hatred for hipsters.

  • http://twitter.com/dustyfox dustyfox

    I lost it at “do you have a tumblr?”