To be a hipster is to be a nebulous thing. And that, in many ways, is one of the keys to “hipsterdom.” Your cool (if you happen to be a hipster) is cooler than the coolest cats on the planet. Your awareness of what’s hot, hip and in vogue is almost prescient in nature — beating the mass consciousness in the new and the avant-garde (in art, fashion, film, literature, music, etc.) to the punch.
To embrace counterculture, progressive ideas and aloofness — all stuffed into a singular yet paradoxically multifaceted aura — while sporting (a very anti-hipster word) an androgynous look and constantly eschewing mainstream culture.
There are those among us who would bask in the ambiguous and esoteric light emitting from the phenomena of hipsterdom. Others, it seems, would like to avoid hipsters at all costs. Some people have gone as far as taking solace — and even rejoicing — in the bashing of hipster culture. Perhaps they do so because the hipster world isn’t to their tastes. Or perhaps they simply don’t understand the artist work and the baffling nonconformist cerebral gymnastics that go into becoming, and then constantly updating and relating to, a subculture set among a larger counterculture embedded in mass culture.
Whew, did you get all of that? Yes, the life of a hipster can be an awful lot of work. Rewards, and plenty of pitfalls, are littered along the path toward uncompromising “enlightenment.”
While guides exist that will help you identify the outward appearance of a “typical” (again, another word rubbing against the grain of the aesthetic) hipster, pointing out the skinny jeans, sneakers, scarfs, bow ties, horn-rimmed classes, ratty hair, secondhand suit jackets and the like is really a fool’s errand.
Inevitably, I believe, the movement will react to being pigeonholed, and then morph organically, until the outward signs of what a hipster is and is not will no longer be easy to categorize. And at the end of the day, avoiding blanket categorization by the surrounding masses of humanity is core to hipster beliefs.
Hipsters, in one form or another, will be around for some time — and you’ll probably have to deal with them on one level or another someday. To this end, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein from the show “Portlandia” have come out with some wonderful hipster “conversation starter and stopper cards,” which can be found in their Portlandia Activity Book. Take a gander at some of the edifying suggestions below.
If you’re still not all that familiar with hipster culture, these clever aids will help you gain a little more insight into the hipsters (apologies if this means you) living among us. How far you wish to take your interaction with any particular guy on any given day is now entirely up to you.