Over the winter break, I was called a hipster for wearing a high-waisted skirt and glasses and then found out that Joey Jeremiah only asked me out as a joke and I totally fell for it. I was so embarrassed!! I just wanted to DIE. My life is so sucky.
Okay, I lied – Joey totally meant it when he asked me out. But the hipster accusation actually happened. I didn’t think I’d be subjected to such arbitrary labeling and finger pointing this far into my academic career, unless it was about my sexuality (accusations of sluttery and faux lesbianism follow most women in their early twenties, much to the dismay of feminism in all its forms). But, alas, here I am. I’m sure my newfound hipster status is an affront to some – who would find me too sober and too into Taylor Swift – but seems all too obvious to others – thanks to my glasses and affinity for the French New Wave. Either way, it’s not really important, because the word “hipster” as a descriptor has become so overused that it’s meaningless. It’s “douche” for a new decade.
When the term was coined in the 1940s, “hipster” connoted music and musicianship, as well as members of the contemporary subculture. Now, thanks to its resurgence in the popular media (supplanting the only slightly less annoying “emo” label), it has become a comfortable crutch for those lazy judges who see a single pair of plastic-framed glasses as an unbridgeable ideological gap. It is wantonly applied to every fashionable twentysomething on St. Catherine Street, every undergraduate Concordia student, and every person in a compositionally interesting photo on Facebook. And it’s not just unhip adults and L.L. Bean-clad hikers who point and snicker at perceived hipsters. Droopy-hatted, Wavves-loving intellectuals are just as likely to label their hipster brethren. One of the main reasons that the “hipster” label grates my nerves is because it’s so often hipsters themselves doing the name-calling.
Case in point: I was recently at a student art show with a friend of mine. He looked around and scoffed at “all these stupid little pseudo-artistic hipsters.” Notwithstanding the fact that I had had to explain the pronunciation of “pseudo” to him four years prior (he was calling things “swee-do-intellectual”), he was making an absolute fool of himself. While he pronounced his judgement, he was sporting a septum piercing, browline glasses, and a shirt featuring (he went out of his way to tell me) an authentic drawing by Robert Crumb (something of an enfant terrible in the world of underground comix). Calling someone else a hipster shows an embarrassing lack of self-awareness for a group that is so intensely narcissistic. Paradox? Yes. Unfixable? No.
My solution is to abolish the word “hipster” from our collective vocabulary. In its place I propose these more nuanced epithets:
Esoterophile: denoting someone obsessed with things he or she thinks no one else knows about.
Style monkey: from “monkey see, monkey do,” for someone whose dress sense too closely echoes that of an American Apparel or Urban Outfitters mannequin.
Fauxr-eyes: for those afflicted with visual handicaps corrected by lenses, and those who wish they were.
Person I semi-irrationally hate and/or fear: because when judging others, what are we doing but seeing the worst in ourselves? [note: insert NBC “The More You Know” music.]
Additionally, I advocate the resurrection of the words poseur, square, and narc on the grounds that they’re fun to say and easy to rhyme with.