As we mentioned earlier this week, back when we described the residents of 1717 Troutman Street, who had been evicted from their apartment, as "hipsters" in a headline, some of the residents took issue with the term "hipster." That is so typical, we said to ourselves. Hipsters never will admit to being hipsters. It's so silly! So we made a joke about it, not because we didn't feel bad for the people who got kicked out of their houses since we quite clearly did, but because it was just absurd. And the outcry got louder! The writer (who didn't write the headline, by the way, or choose the photo) was harassed on MySpace, accused of "name-calling" and using hipster as a pejorative, "sort of like using the term 'negro' to describe an African American person." Um, what? "People are offended by the term hipster because it implies a life of ease dedicated to appearing cool and nothing else," one commenter explained. Huh. But we feel like we know plenty of hipsters who don't have trust funds. Some of them even work retail, like at Trader Joe's and American Apparel! But apparently that perception is pretty common: "Bunch of whiny trust fund 'hiptches' if you ask me," wrote one commenter on the folks at 1717 Troutman. "I'm sure they are all back in CT and RI with mommy and daddy by now." We had no idea we were so wrong and old and irrelevant! Well, we did, but, you know. So we asked Williamsburg indie-rock promoter Todd P to teach us the nuances.
Todd P agreed, somewhat circumspectly, that "hipster" was not an innocent word. "It's always been my opinion that most of the time an individual you overhear complaining about hipster this or hipster that is in fact him/herself a hipster, or else really wishes he/she was one," he said.
He went on, as though he'd been waiting to be asked this question his entire life.
Lately I want to bring back the term "Scenester," because at least that one implies involvement in something, some formative following of an underground scene — vague all-encompassing hipsterdom strikes me as parasitically passive — whereas I feel like you gotta be active and contribute to a community to be a scenester. Subtract the scenesters from the amorphous mass of hipsters and what you have is the group of people that most folks are meaning to dis when they say "hipster" — that crew is the "Trendsters" — the least positive group of hip kids out there, trendsters surf around on other people's ideas rather than coming up with new ideas of their own.
The best kind of hipster is defining his/her own culture, and following his/her own tastes outside of trends and commercial bullshit.
There you have it! Sort of!