Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hipster: alternative, or is it?

Hipster. The word probably evokes very specific images in your head, as it does in mine. It might include any of the following: over-sized plastic eyewear, cut-off jean shorts and tank tops with converse tennis shoes (if you're a dude) and high waisted pants paired with blouses your grandma would have worn (if you're a chick) all coupled with copious amounts of colorful tattoos, usually spilling out of said cut-off jean shorts and grandma's blouse. There's the vintages purses and backpacks that can only be found at your local good will or thrift store. And then there's always the shoes: Keds, Vans, Toms, or some other variety of shoe that by seeming requirement are horrible for your feet. And if you're a chick your jewelry can't have been made within the decade to count as cool. Vintage. Oh, and don't forget mustaches. If you're a dude and ever hope to be a legit hipster, you've got to sport the 'stache. What else am I missing...

As a hipster you must own at least one Mac product, even if it's a first generation ipod. You must also spend excessive amounts of time at your local--and it must be local--coffee shop. Starbucks is just too mainstream. Duh.
You must recycle, own at least one re-usable grocery bag, and in general consider yourself "green." And if you're legit you commute to work on your bike, but you're really legit if work at your local coffee shop and commute there on your bike. Total hipster points.

If you're reading this, you know exactly what I'm talking about, you see it everywhere. To the point where you wonder if "hipsters" are really as alternative as their entire culture claims to be. That's the irony about alternative lifestyles and thought processes, eventually, they become mainstream. Isn't it ironic? And no, I'm not quoting alanis morissette, although I'd be totally hipster if I was.

So, how does a philosophy or lifestyle that began as so "alternative" become so utterly cliche? I mean, despite my wanna-be hipster status (my students refer to me as the "white hipster teacher") I have become somewhat irritated by the whole movement and image. I recall being in Austin recently during a popular music festival-alternative music of course-and being pretty turned off to the plethora of hipsters that inundated the streets and venues. Too many tattoos, too many mustaches, too many plastic-rimmed glasses and in general just too many people trying desperately to be different, but in reality looking and acting much the same.

Perhaps it's cynicism that causes me to be so critical, and even hypocritical, but it's also just pure observation and curiosity. I imagine that every alternative movement or philosophy began this way, and then sadly and slowly shifted into mainstream. I mean it wasn't always cool to not shower and be a hippie, but now, in some circles, would be considered just being "green." Isn't it ironic? No, I'm afraid it's not.

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