A Brief History of the Hipster
It’s Friday night. After a grueling week, you’re looking forward to finally having some fun. You call up your friends, your drinking buddies, your girlfriend, and get ready for several hours of nonstop debauchery. Walking into your favorite bar, you notice something’s… off. The place looks the same, smells the same, and feels the same, but somehow, it just isn’t. Out of the corner of your eye, you see three guys, all in their early twenties, all sporting unfortunate beards, ripped size-6 girl jeans, and t-shirts that haven’t been relevant since the 80′s. Hipsters. A smattering of hipsters, here, at your favorite bar, your sanctuary.
You see, the thing about hipsters is that even hipsters hate hipsters. Don’t expect one to admit to his hipsterdom, even if he’s standing there in a Barcelona Olympics t-shirt and nerve-damaging jeans. He dresses weird because anyone wearing a polo and khaki shorts has an iTunes library brimming with Dispatch, Dane Cook, and Donovan. His girlfriend doesn’t eat meat because it’s “cruel,” but has never owned a pet. They’re both loyal greenpeacers, appropriately, but each one smokes two packs a day. They’re counterculture, damnit, and they don’t give a shit.
Is that too much axiom — I mean stereotype — for you? We’re not trying to alienate what could possibly be a decent portion of our readership, although that would be subject to change after this little number. Our goal is just to bring to light how ridiculous the whole subculture is, much like Nantucket preps, art gallery snobs and any male from Boston. So how about we go through the storied evolution of the hipster, year by year. Maybe you’ll learn a thing or two to tell your friend, or even a bit about yourself.
1940′s Original Hipster: The origin of the word, hipster, actually comes from the early 40′s. Most historians believe its root, hip, is derived from hop, a slang term for opium. These subculture founders were middle-class white kids trying to emulate the lives of the black jazz musicians they idolized. Sound familiar? Except for the emulating black jazz musicians part, of course. Hipsters today are quite content emulating heroin addicts and alcoholic men homeless men.
1950′s Beatniks: If only modern-day hipsters were still this cool. This was back when being “hip” meant actually being artistically progressive, or at the very least. appreciating “artistic shit.” Okay, maybe they just read On the Road, but that’s more than most of them can say today. Jack Kerouac described his people as roamers, bumming and hitchhiking across America. Now, we call that living on the street. As we get closer to the modern day hipster, the line is increasingly blurred.
2000 Emos: Let’s take an unfortunate leap through the remainder of the 20th century. Gosh, things have changed in 50 years. We’ve gone from jazz and classic literature to choppy haircuts…and guyliner. Yup — you hear that, Clementine? Before you were up there blasting Best Coast, Delilah was slitting out to Flogging Molly.
Circa 2002 PBR: Nothing quite epitomizes the modern hipster more than their all-time greatest friend, PBR. At some point in the early 2000s, Pabst Blue Ribbon found itself a suddenly and miraculously rejuvenated brand, after decades of obscurity. Young people, and especially hipsters, began to embrace the cheap sudsy goodness of PBR, so much so that the Joseph Schlitz company embraced their new supporters and ran with the hipster crowd. Even now, a decade or so later, you’ll be able to find PBR at every hipster hangout, often in pounder cans for $2-4 a pop. Which is a nice price for people who never seem to work.
2004 Bikers: No, not motorcycles. Those are too expensive. Hipsters always loved their bikes, but at some point in 2004, it was no longer okay to merely bike. No. They had to become bicycle experts and gearheads, always ready to spruce up the shitty fixie they found ironically at a scrapyard. Is it a weird, off-putting 1970s sedan orange? Not a problem. Is half the seat missing? No worries. They find these things and then dedicate their lives to riding and worshiping them. Worst of all, if several hipsters happen to converge together, the conversation will inevitably turn to bicycles, at which point you should consider suicide (or why you’re even there in the first place).
2005 Carabiners: This goes hand in hand with the bicycle, but you may notice that all hipster males have a carabiner attached to a belt loop, with their keys dangling below. This is because their pants are too tight to fit anything in the hip pockets, and also because it’s hard to bike with shit in your girl jeans. Hipster females will often flock to the male with the dangliest carabiner, as it’s a sign of virility and prosperity within their species.
2008 Snapbacks: Hipsters begin to explore the previously unexplored world of vintage sports clothing, particularly “snapback” hats and old basketball jerseys. These hipsters begin to branch off and form a “hoopster” class. If you own a Drazen Petrovic jersey, or a Charlotte Hornets Starter cap from 1993, you may be a hoopster.
2009 Merriweather Post Pavillion: Hipsters collectively shit their pants, world is never the same.
2009 iPhones: With their slim, jean-friendly design and Instagram capabilites, iPhones become the weapon of choice for hipsters worldwide. No longer forced to take faux-vintage photos with their ironic Sony cameras, hipsters begin to take pictures of everything and assume others gave a shit. Instagram is wildly successful.
2011 Glasses: Oh, what’s that? It’s hard to read the liner notes to the latest Godspeed You! Black Emperor CD without your heavy duty black frame glasses? That’s too bad! You should get Lasik. Does your bicycle workshop offer benefits?
2012 Self-Parody: Hipsters have officially become mainstream. There are so many people desperate to join their impromptu jean short army that hipsters no longer represent what’s hip. If anything, they’ve turned themselves into a gigantic joke. Which brings us to our first point: you’ll never meet someone that describes themselves as a hipster. Ever. I think that says it all.