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Hipsters, the most mysterious Western subculture society has ever seen. Hated by some and absolutely despised by themselves, why?
Whenever I can’t quite understand a sociological phenomenon, I place it in a historical context to hypothesize about it’s origins. The problem was that that piece of the puzzle was missing. It was as if they had appeared out of nowhere and it wasn’t until after I took a Western philosophy class that I started to understand hipsters. There are in fact two types of hipsters, the young postmodernist and the typical garden-variety hipster.
So what is postmodernism? Postmodernism is a philosophical movement, that arose in the second half of the 20th century, critical towards- and aiming to disrupt so called ‘meta-narratives’ stories that helps us organise other stories. For instance capitalism is meta-narrative that legitimises economical and political narratives. Family is a meta-narrative that legitimises relationships, behaviour and unity, and so the list goes on. But why disrupt them? Post-modernists believe that those meta-narratives are constructed, managed and represented by society, and thus trap us in our own collective thinking, trapped in thinking inside the proverbial box if you will.
Now here comes the ‘hipster’ part. To slap those meta-narratives silly, postmodernists manifest them with a dose of contradiction, irony(!) and removing/bending/adding certain elements, like in conceptual art (idea over execution) and in numerous films (e.g. Pulp Fiction and The Comedy). It stimulates out of the box thinking, which in turn keeps society from stagnating and becoming some sort of giant cult.
So how would you look and behave if you were a young active rebellious postmodernist, or yarp for short? Give everything mainstream the finger of course! Society dictates that fashion has to be new, expensive and up-to-date with current tastes, wear second hand vintage clothing and top it off with a cat shirt. Moustaches are considered ugly? Grow one, or if you can’t, put it on everything. Of course you’d rather die than actually like the crap they call music these days, so you listen to less known independent artists, like Toro Y Moi, Neon Indian and Miami Horror. I could go on, but you get the picture.
Postmodern ideals like that have rubbed off on mainstream society. Men now casually wear skinny jeans and grow beards, fixies and plaid shirts are everywhere and everyone looks all smug when they mention how good their double chocolate decaf frappallapachino is. Those are the mainstream try-hards, the garden-variety hipsters, who want to be hip and earn prestige.
So yarps try to move on to the next thing now that they’ve achieved mainstream acceptance, of course closely followed by a large group of hipsters, who deny being hipsters because yarps do the same. Like with any weird annoying kid following the cool group around, the group becomes pretentious and so do the hipsters. Now mainstream society sees both yarps and hipsters as one big snobistic subculture.
Will yarps ever shake off the hipsters, who knows? Hopefully hipsters will eventually move on to the next thing… in the good sense.