When I Was a Hipster

Posted by – November 15, 2010

I never thought of the label as an insult until later – maybe the 90s – when being a NYC insider somehow earned you the wrath of all the people who come to NYC in order to find/buy/live near cool. I won’t call them arrivistes, like this article does, because that’s just silly.

Both groups, meanwhile, look down on the couch-­surfing, old-clothes-wearing hipsters who seem most authentic but are also often the most socially precarious — the lower-middle-class young, moving up through style, but with no backstop of parental culture or family capital. They are the bartenders and boutique clerks who wait on their well-to-do peers and wealthy tourists. Only on the basis of their cool clothes can they be “superior”: hipster knowledge compensates for economic immobility.

It’s a pretty stunning observation, to my eye. Of course my hipsterism pre-dates skinny jeans and big glasses.

1 Comment on When I Was a Hipster

  1. Christine Devilcorn says:

    Hipster “pride comes from knowing, and deciding, what’s cool in advance of the rest of the world” and so hipster consumption patterns evolve in response to the dominant groups’ appropriation of the current hipster consumption patterns (e.g. Paris Hilton in a trucker hat).

    I remember experiencing this when punk when mainstream circa 1993. I was so offended to hear sorority girls and frat boys talking about seeing The Red Hot Chile Peppers or Ministry or Nirvana for that matter.

    In response, I got into Riot Grrrl until a Riot Grrrl showed up on Roseanne in 1996 then it was on to queercore, which never went mainstream. Unless you count Sleater Kinney as a queercore band, but none of those women were actually lesbians as it turns out.

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