There is a semantical phenomenon I have noticed within the last few years. It can be a discussion about a musician, a character in a film, or even a mutual acquaintance. One person will say the phrase “They’re just a hipster”. It’s fascinating that in one short sentence, someone can completely discredit the passions, desires, and aspirations of another person, simply because they happen to fall into certain categories of dress, music taste, etc.
First of all, I would like to point out that perhaps the word hipster is too frivolously thrown around. I do not deny that there are people that fall into this subculture, but since at least the 1960’s, there have always been those who are creative and artistic. There have always been men who grew long beards and wore fedoras and were perhaps more likely to look back in time for inspiration rather than at the here and now. Many of the most beloved painters, photographers and poets fell into this category. But in this day and age, those things are almost looked down upon.
When someone discredits another person in this fashion, they are truly displaying a kind of ignorance. When someone says “Oh who cares about them, they’re just a hipster trying to play hipster music” what you are truly communicating is that you do not have the ability to appreciate or perhaps understand the art, music, literature or choices of style that a certain person or group of people enjoys.
Now, I do understand the distain sometimes aimed at those who consider themselves hipsters. There are some in that camp that do the things they do not because they actually appreciate them, but because they want to be seen as countercultural, alternative and ironic. They buy ugly clothes, listen to bad music and pretend to enjoy art so they can keep up this illusion of counterculture. These are the poseurs, the insecure and the obsessively self conscious. To put this group and the group previously mentioned in the same category is a mistake. The former might reject “mainstream” music such as Ke$ha because they believe it lacks meaning and passion, the latter rejects the same because they want to appear refined, they are a perversion of the former.
Judging others on face value is impossible to avoid, but perhaps next time you see a man whose jeans are a little more snug, whose shirt is a little more plaid and happens to enjoy Iron & Wine, don’t immediately assume they are this pathetic poseur looking for affirmation. In many cases, I believe you will find a passionate, intelligent and uniquely creative individual who is simply wading through the mess of modern culture to find something meaningful and beautiful.