Seriously, we like attention.
There’s a bit of a buzz about hipsters in my tiny city this week.
We’re in the midst of a local twitter contest with a “biggest hipster” category – when I saw that the nominees were all male, I playfully suggested that I should be nominated too. And I am! I’m not going to win (I’ve been slacking on the daily voting portion, myself), but chatting about hipsterdom with my co-nominees has been pretty fun.
This week, the student paper published an anonymous letter that describes itself as an “anti-hipster manifesto,” and I suppose that means the culture wars are beginning again.
I think that writing articles about the phenomenon of hipsterdom is pretty tired, so I don’t want to go on too long about this topic myself. Mainly, these anti-hipster articles seem to serve the purpose of becoming fodder for hipsters to deconstruct and ironically mock. “Oh, this says that hipsters like PBR? That’s so hilarious! Don’t they know that we now like [insert microbrewery here].”
Denying that you are a hipster is basically the main hipster pastime, so writing an article dissing hipsters is basically like taking the entrance exam to hipsterhood.
Still, since I’m now an officially recognized hipster, I can’t resist telling you what I think:
This whole thing is basically an enormous missed opportunity, to, like, make friends, and shit.
Being really, really genuine about your passions is super sexy. Being able to share that with other people in a way that captures their interest is possibly the best skill that you can develop.
One thing I’ve learned about myself is that it takes me about six months to go from hating something and believing I will never to do it to loving something so much that I become a major proponent. I remember when I thought I would never wear skinny jeans, floral print, navy blue with black, short skirts, high heels, big eyeliner… you get the idea. Eventually, all of this stuff comes at you in a context that you find appealing and you begin to get just as stoked about it as everyone else.
I think it’s fine to get really into a trend, and fine to ignore that trend completely. But for myself, whenever I find myself saying, “Ugh, I HATE that!” I check myself because I know that eventually I’ll be into it too.
Beyond fashion, though, I really love it when I find myself bonding with a new friend over something totally unexpected for me. I became a huge football fan because Nick took the time to explain why he loves his team, what makes a certain play really amazing, whatever. It was the first time that someone explained the sport as if I would love it too, rather than treating me like an arty girl who won’t be able to understand. At this point, I get into the significance of a divisional game in about the same way that Nick understands how thrilled I get when a new knitting technique works the way it’s supposed to.
Eventually, I get kinda bored of talking about amplifiers & Nick can’t listen to me talk for all that long about the merits of tomato vs. cherry nail polish, but I’d still be happy to be called a femme football nerd, you know?
I have heard that when we look at groups we’re not a part of, we tend to see sameness of a “those kids are all wearing the same pants” variety. But, when we look at groups we’re included in, we tend to see and appreciate differences – I like drinking cider, and knitting, and watching Grey’s Anatomy, but my pal Julia likes wine, and writing, and Breaking Bad. So, we tend to be the most reductionist – and most dismissive – of people we know less about. That’s a tendency to be aware of, I think.
Not to get too cheesy here, but I think that when people are open to seeing the appeal of other people’s interests, lots of perspective-altering shit can happen. I don’t feel scared of being labelled a hipster because while I do love listening to records & drinking my coffee out of jars, I love other things, too. (I assume something similar is true for most people.) Better yet, I know I will learn to love all kinds of things that I haven’t even considered. And that’s pretty badass.
Basically, I think it’s kind of a bummer to spend so much time focussed on shit you don’t like. In fact, I think that’s the biggest reason that I’ve stepped back from tumblr and irl activism for awhile. Criticism is, of course, necessary and warranted, sometimes, but I’m more interested in figuring out a better way to do things than hating on people for doing it wrong. Anti-hipsters, if you feel like my interests are unworthy, show me what else you’ve got. Make it a little bit accessible. Make it fun.
It’s pretty normal to ponder your own coolness, so I won’t tell you not to do it. Everyone likes to be liked. But I’ll tell you about a time I learned to relax about this.
I was working at the best-ever indie video store. We carried everything, including mainstream stuff, and those new releases were most of what we rented out. Definitely, everyone on staff had their fluffy guilty pleasure genre of choice. Still, customers would confess to me that they rented “cool” art films from us and bad rom-coms at one of the chain stores, because they didn’t want the store staff to think they had shitty taste in movies. I always tried to get people to quit doing that, because a) there wasn’t much judging going on, and b) we were a little store & needed the balance of people renting all those action movie sequels to pay for Criterion re-releases. Lots of staff AND customers watched both. & now…there is no little indie video store, which might not be the case if people hadn’t worried about us knowing that they wanted to watch The Notebook.
Maybe what that means is that, if we expect people to cool it with the hipster hatred, it might be a good idea to quit self-policing our hipster images, hey?