Earlier this week, I was at a show in Atlanta. The guy in front of me, in his sweater over his plaid shirt (I'm always shocked by how much plaid I see when I'm at a show), said of the people on the floor, "Yeah, all the hipsters are down here." From the way he said it, it seemed like he didn't consider himself one of them.
And, embarrassingly enough, I scoffed at him. Like I didn't consider myself one either. Like I was removed from the scene.
Isn't that what I didn't like about him?
Is that wrong? I mean. I knew where to find the cheap parking around Variety Playhouse just like everyone else. The secret exit to the secret parking lot? Dozens of hipsters streaming out of it after the encore. Why do I think I'm better than the girl who wore cat ears? The multitudes in their wool hats? We were all there to watch Andrew Bird. I was no more entitled to enjoy the show than they were, just because I starting listening to his albums three years ago.
The term "hipster" originated in the 1940s, describing people, who, sort of like the beatniks etc., smoked a lot of weed, rejected their supposed roles in middle class society, and liked the alternative jazz music of the time. Seems sort of familiar.
I think, essentially, what makes a hipster is the qualification that you need to believe that you are not a hipster. Not many people embrace the term, despite what Stuff White People Like may suggest.
I know a kid who has a tan line from his American Apparel deep-V shirts. He doesn't think he's a hipster.
Today, these people "escaping" the mainstream have coalesced and created their own. You like Girl Talk? Isn't it a shame that Arrested Development got canceled? What's your favorite Wes Anderson movie? Is Chuck Klosterman too much like Dave Eggers? These are all conversations I've had at least once. (Yes, oh yes, Rushmore, and No! Go read Killing Yourself to Live.) After a bit, I wonder if I actually like the things I like. Or if maybe since we're all the same, we subconsciously just adopt the same interests and then pretend we discovered them. Or it could be coincidence?
The hipster movement is post-postmodernism cemented into a culture. It's the reaction to postmodernism, the reaction to being self-aware—being so self-aware that you realize you don't want to be. That that's not cool. It's wearing non-prescription glasses and pretending you don't read Pitchfork. And, I guess, it's writing blogs about hipsters.
Maybe I'm too hard on myself. I hope.