Is Hipster a Bad Word?

February 1st, 2012 at 11:59 am

I couldn’t help but notice that our culture decided to slander Hipster with negativity. We’ve been stereotyped with skinny jeans, snobbishness, obsession with music, and a general malaise between goth and emo.

Hipster with Dog

Hipsters are the new Hippies. We’re dirty in a clean way. And friendly. Go ahead, don’t like us. We don’t mind. Our elitist isolation is part of our charm.

You start out innocently enough: peaceful, small, idealistic. But once your self-identifying clan has grown into a position of power, affluence, and elitism, the show is over.

I, for one, am proud of the moniker Hipster. It’s one I embrace. Since when is hip uncool? And why have we been ghettoized, marginalized, and relegated to neighborhoods such as Brooklyn, Portland, Echo Park in Los Angeles, East Austin, and The Mission District in San Francisco? (Because the suburbs want to make us vomit and are what caused our existence in the first place.)

In light of all this, it was with a very mainstream glee and populist satisfaction that I stumbled upon Z.Z. Packer’s definition of Hipster in her “Keeping it Weird” article in January’s Smithsonian. It’s an article subtitled, “Even though it’s the state capital, the city still works hard to be quirky.”

Packer begins her contemplation of Austin, TX with, “Hipsters of all stripes trek to Austin, Texas. By hipsters, I mean people who love irony but are suspicious of symbolism, who are laid-back without being lazy, who groom their music collections the way Wall Streeters monitor their stock portfolios, people whose relentlessly casual dress is constructed as painstakingly as stanzas in a pantoum.”

That. I like that.

And I know I’m a Hipster because I love that and identify with it but am outraged that Z.Z. Packer did not capitalize Hipster. Especially when appearing in a sentence with “Wall Streeters.” Occupy!

And I know that I’m a Hipster because I love the fact that I don’t know what a pantoum is. Sure, it’s probably some kind of poem with strict rules like a Haiku, but no, I’ve never heard of it. But I love it.