We can all agree that the term “hipster” no longer has a useful or manageable definition. It has transitioned from a specific set of cultural touchstones (dating back to jazz cats) to something more like “a skinny person who is also a douchebag” or “someone who has an iPhone and/ or listens to music made after 1999.” The most slippery thing about defining hipsterism is that everyone rejects the label. I have never met one person who accepts that he or she may, in fact, be kind of a hipster.
Never fear, for I have volunteered myself to be the canary in the Portland/ Williamsburg/ Austin coal mine. Starting today, I am going to be the world’s first self-identifying hipster. It will take a little lifestyle adjustment, but I fully intend to live up to every hipster stereotype. That way, we will finally have a definitive avatar of hipsterdom. Plus, other hipsters will come out of the closet and embrace their own hipster identities. The pillars of my new life will be as such:
Mostly I’ll listen to bands that no one has heard of. I’ll stay current with blogs like Pitchfork and Brooklyn Vegan in an effort to keep abreast of emerging trends and sounds. When the new genre, “chambercrunk” emerges, I’ll be there. If Sufjan Stevens releases a series of comeback demos recorded in the back seat of John Wayne Gacy’s old car, I’ll get my hands on them.
Also, though, I’ll listen to several older bands who are largely out of fashion and flagrantly uncool. Hall and Oates. Phil Collins. Slayer.
Plus a sizable dose of golden age 1990s hip hop.
And some world music.
Everything except country. Unless it’s really good country.
So basically I’ll have the most hipster taste in music, which can, it turns out, be any taste in music.
From here on out, I’ll only dress in outfits that I have heard people complain about as being “hipster-y.” Examples include:
– Skinny jeans
– Plaid shirts
– Plaid jeans
– Skinny shirts
– Track suits
– Mesh tank tops
– Old, ripped jeans
– Brand new ripped jeans
– Jeans without any rips at all
– Unbuttoned dress shirts
– Dress shirts buttoned all the way up
– A little league jersey
– Lion costumes
– Top hats
– Fingerless gloves
– Finger-y gloves
As best as I can tell, I need to become a vegan, except during brunch hours, when I will eat locally sourced bacon. People will probably make fun of me, but it seems like I wouldn’t be doing anything that unhealthy or destructive to the environment. Of course, I will act like my habits are totally normal.
I will drink Pabst Blue Ribbon. Or exclusively local microbrews. I haven’t decided yet. Some variety of cheap and fancy beer. You know, like only hipsters drink.
I will either get two full sleeves of tattoos (one of all mythical creatures and the other of all the assassinated presidents and their assassins), or no tattoos. Maybe just one ironic Chinese character meaning “forever.” Or one sincere Chinese character meaning, “nothing lasts forever.” Either way, I will not understand what irony is, but neither do most people, so it’s fine.
The one thing I am totally sure of is that hipsters are all about mustaches. I’m going to have so many of them that it would make a busload of Midwestern dads jealous. I will maintain rows and rows of glorious ‘staches, like some sort of Mustache Shark. Chest hair mustaches (“gut-staches”). Arm hair mustaches (“muscle-staches”). I’ll grow sideburns and then disconnect them from the rest of my hair, giving me “cheek-staches.” I’ll have a mustache tattoo on my upper lip, covered by a real mustache, topped with a mustache wig or “moupee.” I’ll put mustard-staches on my vegan hotdogs. Perhaps I’ll get one of those mustache finger tattoos that were probably very charming at some point.
I will ride a bicycle for environmental reasons. Or health reasons. Or maybe I’ll buy a used car because that’s all I can afford. Or I’ll get a new car because I have enough money. Or I’ll ride a unicycle because I’m a dick.
I will brew my own beer. Or make my own cheese. Two time-consuming and ultimately not very useful hobbies. Not like watching sports, which always has a fruitful and productive outcome. Maybe I’ll raise chickens. But only if I want to have really fresh eggs and make sure my neighbors hate me.
I won’t have cable, but I will have Netflix. I will watch only foreign films, but I count anything with Jean Claude Van Damme as foreign.
You know what? This sounds like an awful lot of work.
Instead of developing a comprehensive definition for the word “hipster,” I’m going to continue to use it like everyone secretly does anyway, to describe any smug jerk that doesn’t look like a townie or a finance bro. From now on, let’s agree hipsters are not cyclists or beer snobs or urban farmers. They’re just dicks that don’t get into bar fights. Just as a drunk football fan isn’t a bro until he pukes on your shoes, a guy in tight pants on the subway isn’t a hipster unless his record player is taking up a seat that an old lady could be sitting in. Get on board, America!
No, “hipster” doesn’t have a specific definition. But neither does “dickhead,” and there are still plenty of great uses for that word.