"Sometimes the only power you have is to tell your story." -Evelyn Wilde

Thursday, December 19, 2013

In Defense of Hipsters

We know who they are. We all know the signs: Ironic sunglasses and meticulous facial hair. Look! There's one now, riding a fixed gear bike while eating a vegan cookie.

What was spawned out of the enclaves of Brooklyn and Montreal has reached across the globe, from Austin to Sydney. Hipsters are everywhere and, as with anything that signals change, despising them is not making it go away.

I have sneered at their bespeckled presence in bars and cafes, too. I've sardonically snarled "hipsters" when I get the brunt of their bad service or when a group of them beat my team on Trivia Night at the pub. But who am I to judge, really? Is it their music and cool cardigans I mistrust or could it be their youth?

Teddy Boys, Mods, Rockers, Beatniks, Hippies, Punks, Yuppies, Gen X'ers...what are Hipsters if not the next evolution of a cycle that brings with it a counter culture; questioning how every generation before them got too comfortable?

I'll confess. I'm 39 and for the past week I've tried on several occasions to wear a shirt with a huge tiger on it, and felt like a total twat every time, until a young woman stopped me on the way out of a restroom and remarked "Cool shirt." Well, if that wasn't the nicest thing that had happened all week. I think if those of us stuck somewhere between Grunge and Electronica were honest with ourselves, we would admit to feeling our age these days. Kids, careers, long-term relationships, biology- they do a fucking number on you. The truth is, I don't know who I am at this stage of my life and rather envy the cute, dewy, lads and ladies creating an identity that references 50's pin-ups, punk politics, hippie idealism and post modern gadgets.

The Hipster is about more than just a look. Their ideals fuse the rejection of the traditional while embracing the future of technology. Their politics are liberal and lifestyles downright socialist: urban farming, communal living, non corporate allegiances; these aren't new ideas, they're repurposed and recycled. Ooh, I forgot about recycling! They bloody love to separate their plastics and do wonders with a Mid-Century chair.

The reality is a Hipster in your neighborhood is a beacon of hope, almost as fortuitous as the magic of a homosexual couple looking to invest in a fixer-upper or a Trader Joe's announcing new store openings. What are Hipsters if not the next generation finding their feet and moving us all forward? We may not understand the way they can throw together what's left in the wardrobe on laundry day and still look fantastic, their music, or even how they download it but our disdain is not an indictment of their taste, it's a painful reminder of our age.