Film & Media Studies Theory

Whitman College – FMS 387

The Fake Hipster


Well I guess Tom and I had a similar idea.


When you think of hipsters, you conjure a distinct picture: a skinny person wearing skinny jeans, flannel, thick rimmed glasses, carrying a mason jar, biking, unclean, vinyl records, and probably from Portland or Brooklyn. They seem to stick out from the fashion and masses of mainstream culture.


Hipsters are men and women who value counter-culture, they are shunning most ideas of what mainstream culture have told us. They have a certain look to them, with their clothes, hair, and even attitude (as exemplified above). The subculture has created a consensus of how to show their interests to society (Blue 80).  They are rejecting the mainstream consumer idea by shopping at thrift and vintage stores, shunning our capitalistic economy. However, these aspects are supposed to make them different from the mainstream world, hipsters are technically conforming in their own culture, creating a cultural hegemony. Consequently, they have become sort of hypocrites; they are living their subculture’s equivalent to the mainstream idea they hate.


But as the anti-mainstream fashion has caught on, there are people who are falsely calling themselves hipsters. With the rise of stores like Urban Outfitters and American Apparel, these “hipsters” are not turning away from the consumer world; they are spending up to fifty dollars on a shirt that is supposed to cater to the hipster demographic. “Real” hipsters are supposed to put “distance between producer and consumer,” buy buying second hand clothes (Red 91). With the emergence of hipster retail stores, those who buy their clothes are only perpetuating the oppressive nature of the business and consumer. The idea of buying hipster looking clothes from such retail stores generates the “’negotiated’ mix of both ‘commercial’ and ‘authentic’ (Blue 82).” It could be the lack of knowledge that many have of what exactly is the hipster subculture, but if one identifies as a hipster and shops at these certain stores they are just adding to the hegemonic nature of this sub-culture.


3 thoughts on “The Fake Hipster

  1. I find this interesting about how people can identify as a hipster. But at least from my experience, ‘true hipsters’ never identify themselves hipsters. Do you think that is because the ‘true hipster’ is still trying to dissociated themselves from the business and consumer?

  2. Just as a qualifier: I know I’m from Portland, and I know I am often viewed as a hipster to my peers at Whitman College.

    I think you’re wrongly assuming that anyone qualifies themselves as a hipster. The term carries an intensely negative connotation in our culture. You don’t consider yourself a hipster(evident through your use of “they” in reference to “hipsters”), but as a student here you’ve normalized yourself to Birkenstocks with thermal socks, bare feet(I still don’t know if I really understand that trend), liberal arts ideologies and, specific to this class, the dissection of media, which encourages personal pursuits often placed under our perception of hipsterdom(I mean to say that analyzing media can be deeply existential, bolstering our insecurities and revealing our flock tendency to the point where you NEED to escape from it). Is it hip, then, to read poetry for fun? Well, yes. Is it hip to involve yourself in any form of DIY culture(knitting, brewing, gardening, etc.)? Undoubtedly. Is it hip to talk about the dissection of media? It may be the hippest thing you can do, especially thinking and broadcasting your ideas to others. Is it hip to do something different? Something non-mainstream? Yes.

    Applying the term solely to fashion somehow implies that generational clothing trends are something new(yet we continually mock 80s and 90s attire, or embrace them?-“fuckin’ hipster”). So what is being hip? Everything is falling into the category because its the bent of our generation of educated but jobless 20-somethings(fostered by the lack of work we’re trained to do and the growing disdain for our government/international issues, we’re more encouraged to create a meaningful youth on our own). I believe the real distinction of hipsterdom is one that does not so much revolve around “hip” and “non-hip” as much as between “genuine” and “non-genuine.” No one will self-proclaim themselves as hip, but their advertisement of personal pursuits and degrees of involvement(i.e. genuineness) will more thoroughly define them one way or the other. As an example: it is nearly inexcusably hip to get a Joy Division Unknown Pleasures tattoo, because the iconic album cover has been removed from the music it initially represented. Having said tattoo will involve you in the community if you enjoy the album or not, if you’ve heard the album or not. It is a cue card. It is non-genuine because the purpose of tattoos is to be personally “meaningful,” something that image no longer connotes. Just as wearing Lynnyrd Skynnyrd and Guns’n’Roses and Black Flag and The Ramones t-shirts are no longer definitive indicators of musical taste, instead involving the wearer in a community that embraces the fashion and type-facing as much as, or more than, the content the emblematic symbol represents.

    Sorry this is stupid long.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s