The other day I was accused of being a most vile beast: a Hipster!
It was a friend of mine, or a supposed friend, as I can’t begin to fathom why he would paint me with such a reprehensible brush.
I will concede that this claim was not entirely without merit; I currently sport a beard (though it’s closely cropped, while your modern hipster seemingly favors a bushier brand of face fuzz), have a penchant for wearing check shirts and am finicky about coffee and European beer. I wear designer eyewear with dark frames. I also turn my nose up at moments in pop culture where I feel the proponent has “sold out”, be it in the world of film, music or television. I enjoy some of Noah Baumbach’s work, for example. I do not, however, collect records or own a turntable, nor do I have any tattoos or intentions of getting inked. I don’t like Vampire Weekend, and have never heard Animal Collective and have no intention of correcting this. So that works in my favor.
As I laughed off the accusation, it wasn’t until later that I really gave the comment its due. Perhaps I am a hipster. So I went online and tried to define the term. I find that, especially in this modern age, people are all too quick to label others, all the while forgetting the true meaning of the tag in the first place.
According to Wikipedia, Hipster can be defined as:
a postmodern subculture of young, urban middle-class adults and older teenagers that appeared in the 1990s, being derived from earlier movements in the 1940s. The subculture is associated with indie music, a varied non-mainstream fashion sensibility, progressive or independent political views,and alternative lifestyles.
Upon further investigation, news.com.au ran a “short” quiz (20 questions is short to these people?) so you can deduce whether you had been infected with this most heinous of cultural viruses. I personally love it when the media helps me decide who I am, as I have no idea. I can’t do this on my own, I need Rupert Murdoch’s finest hack journalists to assist.
Here’s the thing: if you answer “yes” to three or more questions you are (to Newscorp at least), a “dead set hipster”. Hmmm.
So I took the quiz. The link to the test is here by the way, in case you’re interested in working out whatever it is that you happen to be. For what it’s worth, I answered “yes” to just two questions. Take that, quick-to-judge future former friend!
The questions were odd, to say the least. I think the writer was going for a strong think piece, rich in both wit and comedic timing, but came up well short in my opinion. I answered in the positive to questions 14 and 16. I once saw Elvis Costello at the Fremantle Arts Centre. It was an acoustic gig and Elvis rocked the shit out of that place. And as for question 16, I indeed have been described as smug and sarcastic on many occasions, but never sanctimonious, not to my face at least.
No matter! I can now sleep soundly, safe in the knowledge that media kingpin Newscorp doesn’t consider me a hipster.
But is that enough? If a friend (or even a stranger, come to think of it) pointed out an ominous looking spot on your face (for example) only to have a doctor tell you it was nothing to worry about, would you just accept this opinion or get another take on it, just to be sure? Of course you’d seek a second opinion. Or perhaps a third and forth.
So that’s what I did.
I typed “hipster quiz” into Google and took another test. This one was on rumandmonkey.com, and it asks the question that we all ask ourselves in unguarded moments: what sort of hipster are you? I started doing the quiz, then I reconsidered; after all, isn’t doing the quiz an admission of guilt in some way? I’m basically admitting that I am indeed a hipster, all I’m doing by undertaking the test is defining exactly what kind of hipster I am.
I found another quiz. According to these guys, having a blog might be an indication that I am a hipster! Anyway, the site kept crashing on me. Maybe it couldn’t process how un-hipsterish I was.
Feeling that the Internet had let me down (again), I asked my wife if she considers me a hipster. She replied in the negative, arguing that hipsters were generally rail-thin and effeminate, two qualities that I most definitely do not possess.
I feel better now. Newscorp and my bride, both fine judges of character, are of the opinion that I in fact not a hipster. I’m just a dude with prescription glasses, a beard and a couple of flannel shirts.