I have a love-hate relationship with hipsters. I love them, and they hate me.
Hipsters are the cultural phenomenon of our time. Everybody talks about them, but nobody understands them. Remember when you heard your parents were young adults in the 60s and 70s, and you asked them if they were hippies? Remember how you cried and began an Oedipal struggle when one of them confessed to being a square? I sure did. That’s because hippies were that generation, nobody else mattered. What revolutionaries were to the 1770s, communist dictators to the 1950s and hippies to the 1960s, hipsters are to our era.
You’re either with them or you’re on the wrong side of history.
But the emergence of the hipster raises serious and troubling questions. Such as, how do they intend to fulfill their science and QR credits? Shall we permit them to marry? Where did they get those funky socks? And can I become a hipster too?
Allow me to answer: Hipsters have ways around these things. Hipsters aren’t interested. Borrowed from the guy on the third floor. No. If you have to ask, you can’t. One doesn’t “become” a hipster. Hipsters are born, not made. The rest of us are destined for eternal cluelessness. You should already know where you belong from your too thick thighs, your talents for quantitative reasoning, their looks of infinite derision.
I know this stuff. I’ve been infatuated with hipsters ever since I discovered them. Through middle and high school I was at the very bottom of the social hierarchy, sensitive “late bloomer” and devout classical pianist that I was. I fantasized of going to Yale and becoming a nerd king. But I found a new hierarchy here, one that was dominated by a smoking, thick-framed literati — and they informed me that I was still at the bottom.
It hurts, the silence that meets my greetings, the ostentatious feigned distraction whenever I or another unhipster speaks in section. But I fell in love. Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac, and so hipsters are hotter than Henry Kissinger.
They unilaterally determine the width of ties, the kinds of shoes, the structures of glasses and the books to be seen reading, for the season. More subtle, but as real, is their control over intellectual trends, over our national discourse. In section, even on those days when hipsters don’t talk, we all say what they want to hear. We daren’t offend them.
Hipsters control the language; hipsters control our minds.
I tried to become one. The idea was to dress as a hipster for Halloween. Who but a hipster would ironically go as a hipster? But somehow, they knew I wasn’t one of them. My socks were mismatched — one yellow argyle, the other purple with white polka dots — but were they not funky enough? I made sure to not-smile, but did I not not-smile enough?
Though I failed, and my heart broke, I emerged with hipster expertise. Kindly allow me to answer some of your frequently asked hipster questions.
How did their hipster legs get so skinny? Hipsters have been planning their rise for years. While you were playing pee-wee soccer with other suburban losers, unaware that someday your normally developed legs would fit into skinny jeans, hipsters were smoking and walking to the Guggenheim, burning fat without building muscle.
Do hipsters have gender? No. Hipsters transcend gender. Some have male facial features and female runway model figures. Also, as you would know if you had basic literary theory, gender is just a text. Hipsters are not text. Lastly, hipsters do not reveal their hipster names to unhipsters, so refer to a hipster in the third person as “it.”
Hipsters puff and puff away at hipster cigarettes — are they worried about cancer? No. Hipsters are too cool for cancer. When cancer approaches the hipster, the hipster simply glares, and cancer submissively crosses the street and pretends not to have seen the hipster, just like you do. Death simply does not cross the hipster mind. The hipster has weightier, tormenting questions of literary theory to occupy it. Plus, cancer is just a text.
Is hipster domination of lit seminars total? Yes. Once I saw a girl clad in Harris Tweed in Kafka — a fellow stodge, I thought. As I drew closer to her, I noticed her luminous spandex tights and homemade shoes. Hipsters are tricky like that.
Hipsters are so mean to me I cry every night — what should I do? Just remember, it’s not your fault you’re a unhipster and a loser. You were born that way. Join with me.
Here’s the plan: I want to start a new cultural house, the Unhipster Center, where we can be free from hipsters’ disdainful glances, where we can voice our own naive interpretations of literature, where we needn’t feel self-conscious about our normal legs and typical socks. UHC, as it shall be known, shall be a haven from the violence of the new patriarchy. And how about a new department in which texts such as Sports Illustrated, Atlas Shrugged and Stephen King will be given their due consideration? President Levin, can you provide? Charlie Jaeger lead the campaign?
As we now part ways with hipsters, I confess I have one small regret.
God, I will miss those funky socks.
Matthew Shaffer is a senior in Davenport College.