January 5, 2014

In Defense of Hipsters. ~ Natasha Watkinson

We know who they are. We all know the signs: ironic sunglasses and meticulous facial hair.

Look! There’s one now, riding a fixed-gear bike while eating a vegan cookie.

What was spawned out of the enclaves of Brooklyn and Montreal has reached across the globe, from Austin to Sydney. Hipsters are everywhere and, as with anything that signals change, despising them is not making them go away.

I have sneered at their bespectacled presence in bars and cafes, too. I’ve sardonically snarled “hipsters” when I get the brunt of their bad service or when a group of them beat my team on trivia night at the pub.

But who am I to judge, really? Is it their music and cool cardigans I mistrust—or could it be their youth?

Teddy boys, mods, rockers, beatniks, hippies, punks, yuppies, Gen X’ers—what are hipsters if not the next evolution of a cycle that brings with it a counterculture, questioning how every generation before them got too comfortable?

I’ll confess. I’m 39 and for the past week I’ve tried on several occasions to wear a shirt with a huge tiger on it, and felt like a total twat every time, until a young woman stopped me on the way out of a restroom and remarked, “Cool shirt.” Well, if that wasn’t the nicest thing that had happened all week.

I think if those of us stuck somewhere between Grunge and Electronica were honest with ourselves, we would admit to feeling our age these days. Kids, careers, long-term relationships, biology—they do a number on you.

The truth is, I don’t know who I am at this stage of my life and rather envy the cute, dewy lads and ladies creating an identity that references 50s pin-ups, punk politics, hippie idealism and postmodern gadgets.

The hipster is about more than just a look. Their ideals fuse the rejection of the traditional while embracing the future of technology. Their politics are liberal and lifestyles downright socialist: urban farming, communal living, non corporate allegiances. These aren’t new ideas, they’re repurposed and recycled.

Ooh, I forgot about recycling! They bloody love to separate their plastics and do wonders with a mid-century chair.

The reality is that a hipster in your neighborhood is a beacon of hope, almost as fortuitous as the magic of a homosexual couple looking to invest in a fixer-upper or a Trader Joe’s announcing a new store opening.

What are hipsters if not the next generation finding their feet and moving us all forward?

We may not understand the way they can throw together what’s left in the wardrobe on laundry day and still look fantastic, their music or even how they download it, but our disdain is not an indictment of their taste, it’s a painful reminder of our age.


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Assistant Editor; Michelle Margaret

Image: JanneM via Flickr

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Natasha Watkinson