Thursday, July 17, 2008


The meta-irony is making my head explode--

Hipster (contemporary subculture)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In the 1990s and 2000s, the 1940s slang term hipster began being used in North America to describe young, well-educated urban middle class and upper class adults with leftist, liberal, or libertarian social and political views and interests in a non-mainstream fashion and cultural aesthetic. While definitions vary, hipsters are often associated with alternative music, "indie" culture (indie rock and independent film), and other non-mainstream products, such as vintage clothing.

Journalist Christian Lorentzen argues that “hipsterism fetishizes the authentic” elements of all of the “fringe movements of the postwar era—Beat, hippie, punk, …grunge, [and] white trash chic” and draws on the “cultural stores of every unmelted ethnicity” and “gay style”, and then “regurgitates it with a winking inauthenticity” and a sense of irony. He claims that this group of “18-to-34-year-olds”, who are mostly white, “have defanged, skinned and consumed” all of these influences “into a repertoire of meaninglessness”.


Hipsters tend to associate themselves with liberal, libertarian and/or anti-capitalist political ideology. This could be as concrete as espousing socialist philosophies, or simply being a supporter of a certain political party. Socially, this means support of women's rights and gay rights, especially since one hipster stereotype is being perceived as ambiguous or bisexual despite one's actual sexual orientation (As there are many hipsters that mainly identify as heterosexual, homosexual, and lesbian as well.) Hipsters are not usually associated with organized religion and are usually atheist or agnostic, although some embrace Wicca, Buddhism or the Emerging Church. However, this does not mean that they cannot belong to an organized religion or follow some religious ideology, such as liberation theology.

The overall aesthetic has elements of a liberal ethos. The vintage clothing and thrift store appearance of hipsters in a modern liberal context reveals a wish to consume ethically, combined with a desire to superficially evade their privilege; to avoid purchasing new clothes from large corporations accused of unfair working conditions, such as Gap and Nike. This choice usually manifests itself through refusing to purchase items such as clothing from large corporations, but also extends to a preference for bands who are not signed to major labels and/or who do not offer their creative output for use by the advertising industry.

The hipster aesthetic of irony is often associated with the appropriation of elements of lowbrow or working class culture. Low-brow culture from the past, such as sitcoms from the 1970s and 1980s like Three's Company and The Facts Of Life may be enjoyed in an ironic fashion. Similarly, elements associated in a clich├ęd sense with working class culture. The modern hipster culture appropriates some signifiers of working class identity in an ironic fashion, such as Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

A growing trend among the hipster subculture is the organic farm movement. In Allen Salkin's article for the New York Times, "Leaving Behind the Trucker Hat," the author explores the experiences two hipsters who moved to Tivoli, N.Y. to work on an organic farm. Those without access to farmland are growing vegetables in their backyards and patios. Hipsters are gathering at the local food co-op to exchange seeds and ideas while gaining an identity with a greater sense of irony.

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