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What Is A Hipster?

Kramer the hipster

Hipster?

Time to play a word game. Here’s the question: what is a hipster? I ask because I have heard the word about a zillion times recently, and everyone seems to mean something different by it.

Although, in each case, I also understood the point they were making by using the word.

First, here is the word used in a sentence by the Oxford English Dictionary:

Carrying his language and his new philosophy like concealed weapons, the hipster set out to conquer the world.

Wow.

A few overheard (by me) examples:

There are tons of hipsters in Minneapolis. I can’t stand to see them dance.

Did you see that hipster chick? It’s way too hot in here for hipster clothes.

No, I do not eat meat, but that doesn’t make me a hipster.

You hipster doofus! (Elaine from Seinfeld, to Kramer)

I also have my own examples and experiences with the word. For me there is only one memory and its accompanying flock of hideous images that I need.

Modernist poetry class, University of Utah, 2006. Man with turtleneck sweater and fingerless gloves endures torrential perspiration in weather that is pushing 95 degrees outside.

A metal thermos with a lid. The lid has a handle; it doesn’t screw on, it lifts off.

The guy sips the coffee before, during, and after saying anything. Every time he must remove the lid, set it down with a light clink that you can see everyone in the class anticipating, a slurp, then clink and the lid is on again.

Somehow during that class Romero’s zombies came up. He referred to zombies as “vegetative non-life commodities” with a totally straight face.

Clink.

No matter what else happens, he’s the hipster in my head. I also think of this guy from The Onion who said “I’ll try anything with a detached air of superiority.

How about you? For all I know, every single person reading this blog thinks of themselves as hipsters, although that wouldn’t mesh with anything I know about the word, since I’m not hip and I don’t carry my philosophy like a conceal weapon.

Josh

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Andrew Hamblin June 6, 2011, 5:39 pm

    As I thought, I’ve never ever seen someone call themselves a hipster. I think it’s a new way of accusing someone of being pretentious. The Onion Article hits it spot on, try anything with an air of detached superiority.

  • Laura June 7, 2011, 1:27 am

    I too have wondered what a hipster is! I’ve heard it used mainly in a ‘I’m so over hipsters’ context on the internet. I feel a bit out of the loop…

  • Big Will June 7, 2011, 6:30 am

    While the description from The Onion truly nails it, i will offer a simple definition:

    One who is on the cutting edge, the tip of the spear, the mushroom-tip of “newness” regarding all of pop culture [music, clothes, designer drinks, etc.] simply to be in front of things to impress their contemporaries.

    This is not fair, as at 32 years of age i am a fuddy duddy who never, never accepts anything that becomes instantly popular. At least not until later. It took me three years to “discover” Lady GaGa.

    Cheers,
    W

  • Gustavo June 7, 2011, 6:34 am

    What is an annoying self promoter of his/her trends and fashion knowledge, or, a hip booster for exotic people?

  • Alastair J June 9, 2011, 2:33 am

    Skinny jeans, it’s got to be the skinny jeans that doth a hipster make…