Nowadays, it seems that when a subculture springs up it’s given a name before a proper definition. Remember the word “emo?” All of a sudden there was an umbrella term for a group made up of wildly different characteristics: Dashboard Confessional fans lumped in with The Cure fans, people who wear scarves indoors on top of their Penguin polos coupled with guys wearing black nail polish and mascara.
But emo took an ugly turn and became a derogative term, meaning a person whose state of mind involves any combination of being sensitive, sad, whiny, and self-centred. And that’s only my interpretation—everyone’s is different.
Thankfully, emo has fallen out of common use. But the past couple years have seen the explosive popularity of an equally problematic term: hipster. What originally was synonymous with “trendy” has largely become a derisive term for a smug and inauthentic person who’s into liking things because they’re current, ironic, and are, or appear, inexpensive (drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon is about half the battle).
But for the most part, what people find off-putting about this imagined hipster persona is the same thing that people scorn in any style or subculture: an all-for show mentality. Droves of guys wearing deep v-necks with sparkly patterns on them and $300 jeans, and people who own a rainbow of Chuck Taylors and paid money for anything with an anarchy symbol on it all send the same message, and nobody likes a poser.
But what about the real hipsters? You know, the ones who have been wearing the same wool Christmas sweater since junior high (when their grandma knitted it for them) and started listening to Broken Social Scene back when “Lady Marmalade” was your favourite song? The term hipster leaves out real hipsters, because in order to be a called a hipster you have to not really be a hipster, capish? The term completely misses the mark, and it’s time to put it to rest in the annoying phrase graveyard next to “uber” and “raise the roof!”