What Defines A Hipster?

The hipster movement originated in the 1990s, when millennials began to move to urban areas. At McDaniel College, there are many students from a plethora of different backgrounds, and array of interests. One of these types of people are “hipsters.” But what really defines a hipster?

Hipsters, according to Urban Dictionary, are stated to be “a subculture of men and women typically in their 20s and 30s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.”

“Hipsters” are people who are exceptionally aware of or interested in the latest trends and tastes, especially modern jazz.

So, where did these, so-called, hipsters come from?

According to “How to Act Like a Rock Music Buff,” the term hipster began its use in the 1940s. It is even stated, “The name of the subculture was appropriated from some other cultural movement.” Hipsters in the ‘40s were part of the modern jazz scene.

Alex Wise, a writer for “How to Act Like a Rock Music Buff” states, “they spend most of their time smoking pot and calling each other hepcats. Beatnik authors like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsburg were associated with this movement.”

However, students here at McDaniel have a wide range of beliefs with regards to what a hipster is. This could probably be attributed to McDaniel being a liberal arts school. Some students decided to weigh in on what it means to be a hipster and what their personal definition of a hipster is.

Maggie Myers, a junior, believes that the original meaning of a hipster has been changed into a negative connotation. She said, “I think a hipster, originally, meant someone who does something (listens to a kind of music or wears a kind of clothing) before it is considered cool. I think the definition of a “hipster” has kind of changed in this generation though,” said Myers. If someone calls you a hipster, it’s not necessarily a good thing, and it means you’re purposely trying hard to be “cool” or different. Really, every hipster is like every other hipster out there. The actual word “hipster” has lost it’s meaning.”

Brian Wynn, a junior, doesn’t think hipsters are very “cool” or “chic.” He said, “Have you ever been in a underground club and been the only audience member for that ambient acoustic-‘indie’ pop artist? Do you wear scarves on a daily basis and the latest fashion trends claiming them as your own? Then you are a scum-of-the-earth hipster. But there’s more to it. Hipsters roam the earth claiming to know everything before gaining popularity. Like, “Oh yeah, I went to Starbucks back in the ’50s and watched The Who back when they were ‘The What’. If you think your arrogant attitude toward all the sane, non-lifesucking other individuals roaming the earth is superior then you need to rethink your life. Hipster is just another way to say sellout. And there are plenty of you. Change yourselves.”

Ana Salas, a freshman, says the hipster subculture is just a fad. “A hipster is not someone who, contrary to popular belief, dresses a certain way or acts a certain way,” says Salas. “To me that’s a fashion and like every other fashion in history will eventually fade away. I think a hipster is a person who thinks differently [than] everyone else, you know? The kind of person that comes up with the crazy ideas that no one else even imagined before, they don’t follow fashions or cliques because they’re too busy being themselves. I guess for society a hipster is someone who dresses and a acts a certain way, but that’s not at all the true meaning of a hipster.”

Junior, Taylor Sabatano, judges that hipsters are viewed as people who aren’t really that cool in the first place:

“I think a hipster nowadays is usually someone viewed as pretentious. Dresses to impress, reads all types of literature, listens to indie/whatever they can get their hand on that’s not pop culture. It’s basically someone who doesn’t identify with pop culture.”

Ben Reiff, a sophomore, feels that hipsters just like to have a certain uniqueness:

“I think there’s two views of the word hipster. One’s the stereotypical view of a guy with square glasses and tight pants and all that jazz. An authentic hipster, in my opinion, isn’t necessarily someone who fits into the stereotypical view, but rather creates their own unique, hip style. Style isn’t just related to clothes, it can be a person’s whole persona.”

Senior, Najee Banks supposes that some hipsters are authentic but, that some people just want to be a hipster to be cool:

“There are different kinds of hipsters. You have the ones that dress like hipsters. Then you have the people that are into obscure things that are authentic to their persona. The hipster culture has become a pop culture reference. Being a hipster is losing its meaning and now it is becoming an insult.”

There are many different outlooks on what a hipster is. Some people believe that they are inauthentic and don’t contribute much to society. Others just believe that they are a harmless addition to culture. Others think they’re just a fad that will fade away in the end.

“Hipsterdom” has caused different reactions to people who just cannot really be pinned down to one type of culture. The whole idea behind being a hipster is uniqueness. If that’s the case then, anyone could be a hipster.

Will we ever find out what a hipster actually is? We may never know.


Image via Jamestiks on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons.

1 Comment on "What Defines A Hipster?"

  1. Are you a hipster or a hamster?

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