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"'Tell me your company, and I'll tell you your opinions,' might be said to many a man who piques himself on a select and superior view of things, distinct from the vulgar."
William Hazlitt, "On Consistency of Opinion," in Winterslow, making certain aspects of hipsterdom Older Than Radio

In the 1940s, hipsters were middle-class white people who emulated the lifestyles of black Jazz musicians. This was, for them, an existentialist rejection of society. These hipsters were an unorganized movement that eventually morphed into the beatniks of the 1950s and the hippies of the 1960s.

Sometime in the late 1990s - early 2000s, the term hipster was dusted off and applied to a new generation that expressed the old hipster ideals in new ways. They were now predominantly middle-class, urban, white 20-something-year-olds interested in alternative culture: left-of-center politics, alternative music, independent films, thrift-store or vintage fashion, and a diet of locally-grown, organic and/or vegetarian/vegan food.

These days, self-identified hipsters (if such a thing can even be found as no one seems willing to call themselves by this name) view themselves as intellectuals who reject the mainstream and carefully define their own identities, taking a buffet-style approach to elements of other cultures and subcultures. Your typical hipster outfit will appropriate and/or cannibalize elements from the punk, hippie, rave, and LGBT scenes, plus '90s geek-chic, and some token from a non-Western culture; lacking the raison d'etre of any of these subcultures, the hipster will instead use an air of irony to tie the ensemble together. Hipsters' musical tastes are generally centered around indie rock, Baroque Pop, Alternative Hip Hop, Garage Rock and Punk Rock, and minimalist Techno. Particular bands hipsters tend to enjoy include Arcade Fire, Beach House, Belle and Sebastian, Jens Lekman, Animal Collective, Joanna Newsom, Grizzly Bear, Dr. Dog, Best Coast, and all Elephant 6 Collective bands (especially Neutral Milk Hotel), although only knowing those bands is only half the battle as an obscure and eclectic taste in music is preferred. Pitchfork Media, a music blog, is probably the most important hipster taste-maker. Arcade Fire has been betrayed by many hipsters after they became more popular from Grammy nominations and uses in movies like Where the Wild Things Are and The Hunger Games.

A critical mind might see Hipsters as yet another subculture dedicated to individuality ended up manifesting just as much herd mentality as the mainstream it rejected, along with a tendency to act as though popularity and quality are inversely proportional, and to be very smug about it.

From this was derived the strawman hipster of numerous parodies: A person who spends $60 on a new, designer-brand t-shirt which was faux-aged to look like something you could buy for $2 at Goodwill. A person whose taste in music is calculated to win "Whose iPod playlist is most obscure?" contests, and who disowns their favorite band for being played on the mainstream radio. A person who, upon admitting that she partakes in any form of mainstream entertainment -- especially anything with a "redneck" stigma (like NASCAR, Nickelback or Mixed Martial Arts) -- claims that she's only "enjoying it ironically". A person who mocks every other hipster he sees but vehemently denies being a hipster himself. In short: that jerk who thinks he's better than you because he's so aggressively different.

Due to this strawman, the term "hipster" is frequently used as an insult, lobbed in the direction of anyone deemed pretentious or the slightest bit "artsy". Further confusing the issue, hipsters themselves will, owing to their "indier-than-thou" attitude, frequently disown any hipster fashions or artists that catch on in the mainstream. One year, hipsters may wear distressed jeans and t-shirts with ironic vintage logos; the next year, self-professed hipsters will stop wearing those because they're available at every Wal-Mart in America, while the latecomers who start wearing those will still be labeled hipsters by outsiders. Which only further contributes to the decay of the label (although the term "scenesters" is sometimes used for these johnny-come-latelies). But the real reason hipsters get so much hate is probably just the smugness. According to certain alarmists, hipsters are not just Acceptable Targets, but an occasion for outright panic. To them, hipsters represent Friedrich Nietzsche's Last Man: they stand for nothing and believe in nothing, so their ironic sneer is a harbinger of the downfall of Western civilization.

On a slightly more reasonable note, criticism of hipsters from right-wingers tends to focus on their left-wing, countercultural politics, while criticism from left-wingers accuses them of being the vanguard of The Man and undermining all the subcultures they appropriate from. So hipsters are bad because they're rebels, and they're bad because they aren't rebelling enough.

Compare Emo Teen, Beatnik, Hippie, Bourgeois Bohemian. Related to Irony, Post Modernism, Popularity Polynomial.

See also I Read It for the Articles. Not to be confused with Rule of Cool or Isn't It Ironic? (It is.)

Usually this trope is in opposition to The Man. Yeah, we just had to point that out.

Examples of Hipster include:


Advertising

  • The Mac guy from the "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" ads is considered by many to be a hipster stereotype. In fact, many people who appear in Apple ads appear to be hipsters. This is likely the result of Apple trying to tell people "Buy a Mac and be a hip counterculture artist rather than a PC using drone," which is a bit ridiculous when you realize that Mac OS X forces more conformity on its users than any other OS.
    • Plus, Apple's net worth now exceeds that of Microsoft, meaning that Apple is now "the Man."
  • The "Don't Be So Mayo" campaign for Miracle Whip tries to appeal to hipsters.


Art

  • "Interior Semiotics" is an offensive exhibit that was greatly associated with hipsters, due to the vast majority attending the exhibit. That is all you need to know.


Comicbooks

  • In Empire State, Jason warns Sara that if she moves to New York City, she's going to be surrounded by annoying hipsters. She moves anyway, and upon speaking to Jimmy again:

 Sara: You were right about the annoying hipsters here, too. The worst are the ones who complain about all the other annoying hipsters while not realizing that they themselves are the annoying hipsters.

  • Jack Knight: Antique collector, jazz enthusiast, reluctant superhero and "the only American in Opal City who likes Jerry Lewis movies and proud of it."


Film

  • The quote from Austin Powers was actually referring to a hipster in the original, proto-Beatnik sense.
  • The characters of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World are somewhat hipsterish, although it's more of an Affectionate Parody/criticism toward the lifestyle.
    • More of the villains seem to fit the hipster mold than the sympathetic characters do. Matthew Patel for sure, with his weird fashions and declarations of what is "in" this year. Gideon Gordon Graves clearly aspires to be some sort of hipster king, flaunting his impossibly hip new club and telling Scott he's not cool enough to date Ramona. Scott and his friends, meanwhile, seem to send the message that being honest and true to yourself is the way to be happy in life.
  • Richard Linklater's Slacker is possibly a sociological, non-linear Start of Darkness of the hipster subculture. As a commenter on IMDB once said, "there is ALWAYS going to be 20-year-olds."
  • Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
  • Allison in Yes Man, if her strange fashion sense, a penchant for indie music and unusual hobbies are any indication. A rare non-satirical example.
  • Zooey Deschanel plays a bisexual hipster in Our Idiot Brother.
  • In Juno, Juno and her boyfriend are pretty much hipsters, though her friend Leah is only a marginal example. Jason Bateman's character attempts to seduce Juno through their shared appreciation of hipster media.
  • Wes Anderson's oeuvre is basically hipster bait, but hardly any of his characters are actually hipsters.
  • Rob, Barry and Dick in High Fidelity think themselves this, with the usual results.
  • Pretty much everyone in Les Amours imaginaires (also known as Heartbeats)--basically everyone in all of Xavier Dolan's films, actually.


Jokes

  • Two hipsters walk into a bar. One turns to the other and says "Let's get out of here." The second responds, "Yeah, this place is full of hipsters."
  • How many hipsters does it take to screw in a light bulb? It's an obscure number, you've probably never heard of it.
  • How many hipsters does it take to screw in a light bulb? You don't know?
  • How many hipsters can you get into a phone booth? One, any more and it would be too mainstream.
  • How did the hipster burn his mouth? He was eating pizza before it was cool.
  • Why did the hipster cross the road? To get to the other Starbucks on the other side.
  • If a tree falls in the forest and there's no one around to hear it - a hipster has bought the soundtrack on limited edition vinyl.


Live Action TV

  • Every T4 presenter since 2004.
  • Portlandia on IFC parodies the lifestyle of hipsters and the older Bourgeois Bohemians.
  • Britta Perry in Community plays this for laughs, but there's also a bit of mostly-sympathetic deconstruction going on, since she's frequently exposed as being lonely, deeply insecure and painfully aware that she's not nearly as cool, intelligent and well-liked as she likes to pretend she is.
  • Chris Morris's sitcom Nathan Barley was a satire of London hipsterdom, particularly the title character.
  • Happy Endings parodied hipsters in the epsiode "Dave of the Dead". Penny hooks up with one unknowingly when she meets one at the laundromat and assumes his shabby attire is due to being the last clean clothes he had. Max instructs her in acting the part, by basically not caring about anything. She eventually leaves him because, being a Large Ham, couldn't bear acting aloof all the time. The final scene had hipsters shuffling like zombies toward Dave's food truck.
  • Namechecked in The Big Bang Theory. While Leonard and Penny try to hang out as Just Friends at a bar Penny strikes up a conversation with a friendly but sardonic guy named Kevin on his laptop, who fits the trope despite comparatively little screentime. Leonard thought she was just trying to make a point to him, but Penny mentions that she found him cute with his "hipster glasses and dorky t-shirt." (While certainly not a hipster, Leonard wears similar glasses and dorky t-shirts)


Literature

  • Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard's university thesis paper has the 1800s equivalent of a hipster title: "On the Concept of Irony with Continual Reference to Socrates."


Music

  • The main character of The Lonely Island's "I Threw It On The Ground", played by Andy Samberg, appears to be the sort of hipster who rejects everything as "part of the system", and will inevitably respond to basically everything by throwing something on the ground.
  • Ben Folds' song "Cooler Than You" is a Take That to hipsters.


Newspaper Comics


Video Games


Web Comics

 Kate Beaton: I think it's funny when people complain super loud about how 'hipsters ruined' this or that as though if hipsters would just go away the problem is solved and you can go back to wearing plaid shirts too or something. Because I mean, directionless youths have always appropriated things and made them annoying!

  • Hipster Hitler is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Adolf Hitler as a hipster.
  • Homestuck:
    • Dave Strider is initially a parody of hipster culture, as he's obsessed with (his interpretation of) Irony, and with living in the most ironic way possible. Although, unlike most hipsters, his taste runs more towards hip-hop and dance music rather than indie rock. In any case, the events of Sburb have caused quite a bit of Character Development, and his interest in irony is no longer emphasized so much. It's also implied that Dave's obsession with irony is a coping mechanism for dealing with his brother Dirk's creepier obsessions.
    • Dirk Strider is also very interested in Irony--except he takes his irony so far that it twists back around to sincerity. Sometimes even he himself can't tell at what point his treatment of, say, the Detective Pony novel, transitions from mockery to celebration.
    • Eridan Ampora actually gets called an "ugly scarfnecked douchebag hipster" at one point, and he certainly dresses the part. (He's even earned the Fan Nickname "hipster fish".) On the other hand, he doesn't do very much hipster-ish besides dress the part.
  • Indie Rock Pete from Diesel Sweeties.
  • Manly Guys Doing Manly Things: "I am of the opinion that the word hipster means absolutely nothing anymore. People seem to use it to refer to people younger than 40 who wear clothes. And I’m sure even if they didn’t, that would be 'so counterculture' and end up being hipster too."
  • Questionable Content allegedly features (or featured) hipsters, including main characters Marten and Faye, but the hipster tone has been dramatically lowered as time has gone on. The comic has evolved into more of a Slice of Life story featuring struggling post-college individuals than one about music.
    • A helpful definition from QC: What's the best way to piss off a poseur-hipster-indie music fan? Actually enjoy music.
  • What the Fu features a super-hip bar called the Hipster Jester. "It's so esoteric, it actually exists outside mainstream spacetime. You can't find it unless someone takes you there, and even then you probably won't remember the way."
  • In Rusty and Co, hipster vampires.
  • In one Real Life Comics strip, Greg considers getting some Converse All-Stars and his wife Liz starts insulting him, to which Greg replies that Chuck Taylors were around decades before hipsters were.

 Liz: Oh, so you're saying you liked them before they were cool, huh? I can't even look at you right now.

    • This gets a Call Back a few weeks later, when Greg doesn't want to see The Hunger Games because it's too popular (since he tried Twilight due to its popularity and got burned).

 Liz: That's it, tomorrow, you are returning those Converse All-Stars.

Greg: I am not turning into a hipster, I am turning into a cranky old man. Our jeans aren't as tight.

  • Morris and Harry from The Word Weary are self-identified hipsters. The author said in the comments section of this comic that Morris has a real appreciation for the musical and fashion aesthetics of the subculture while Harry became one "because he heard hipster girls were easy."


Web Original

  • The blog (and book) Stuff White People Like could be more accurately called Stuff Hipsters Like.
    • That's one of the jokes, that hipsters == white people. They occasionally note the existence of other groups of white people, like the people who like Ed Hardy and Dane Cook, but for the most part, they assume white people refers to young, pretentious, elitist, liberal white people.
  • Look at this fucking hipster.
  • Free Spirit, a superhero from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, is not only Camp Gay, he's so hip he has trouble seeing past his own beltline.
  • Survival of the Fittest: Gracie Wainright and Rhory Anne Broderick of v4 both have tendencies of this trope. Bob Lazenby of SOTF-TV also fits, as do Leopold Sutherland and Eloise Winterburn.
  • Hipster Kitty. That is all.
  • Evolution of the Hipster
  • Expert Hipster Hunters at your service.
  • Eric, from Mall Fight. He basically checks every box aside from being a vegetarian. Instead, he is a pecitarian(outside of Chinese food).
  • Grooveshark (a music streaming website) had a prank on April Fools' Day 2012, where any music you play would elicit on-screen commentary from Hipster Jen or Hipster Otis. "I have this song on limited-edition colored vinyl." "I guess this song isn't TOO embarrassing." "This makes my mustache sad."


Western Animation

  • On the King of the Hill episode "Lady and Gentrification", Peggy sells a lot of homes in Enrique's neighborhood to hipsters, who like it for its ethnic flavor. Eventually they start opening business and driving up property values, to the point that poor Enrique can't afford to live there anymore.

 Hank Hill: Enrique's neighborhood sure has changed fast, I tell you what. All these "artists" have started moving in. They all look the same, all skinny and walk real slowly.

Dale: The people you are referring to are called hipsters, Hank. They walk slowly because they've got nowhere to be, man.

 Mordecai: You can't touch music. But music can touch you.

    • Also from the same episode:

 Mordecai (regarding Brain Explosion, his favorite band): Yeah, you probably have never heard of them. You gotta be in the know to know, y'know?

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