November 19, 2011

The hipster paradox: Underground goes mainstream


By Michelle Eigenheer–

The term “hipster” is one often used in today’s pop culture to describe a certain type of person – this person can typically be identified by clothing that appears to have come out of a 1990’s Goodwill, non-prescription glasses reminiscent of Buddy Holly, and a taste for obscure underground music. The ideological foundation of these hipsters is to avoid the mainstream. Paradoxically, they have actually become the mainstream — as popular as scene kids once were.

Hipsters like to be ironic in a way that becomes very sad and slightly irritating. Wearing ugly Christmas sweaters in October and drinking PBR not because you’re actually saving money, but because it’s cheap beer, are not really cool things to do. And yet, there are so many who partake in this. Also, getting sailor tattoos does not turn a hipster into an actual sailor, or anything else cool. While clothing is an expression of personality, many wonder why this group dresses in a way alluding to Steve Urkel.

When speaking of hipsters, it’s important to bring up music. Hipsters don’t like to listen to things that other people like. Should a hipster’s favorite band play on the radio, that band pretty much immediately loses legitimacy within the hipster community. This is an unfair way to treat the sanctity of music – a fan should not punish a musician because their work is gaining success and recognition, but perhaps the musician must be ostracized for becoming mainstream.

It’s clear that hipster tendencies have become the norm; trends like scruffy beards, bicycles, and bad tattoos dominate the campus scene.

Countless jokes can be made about hipsters, and while many have a feeling of general loathing towards this subculture, their numbers continue to grow. Even though the basic persona of a hipster is that of a pretentious jerk, people still want to emulate them and their unique, or not so unique, style.

To learn more, go to Youtube – if it’s not too mainstream for you – and check out the Mixed Company of Yale’s satirical documentary on the hipster way of life. It’s highly educational.

LEFT: Hipsters value all things “anti-mainstream.”
Unfortunately for them, hipster fashion and the pro-underground attitude have become popular enough to become “mainstream.”
The cartoon to the left pokes fun at the hipster-esque loathing of all things popular.


Cartoon by Michael Layman/The Louisville Cardinal

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Photo: Flikr/juplife

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