Hating Hipsters: How The Mainstream Hijacked Authenticity And Made Non-Conformity A Joke
It appears that we have reached a point where people cannot accept that somebody doesn’t like the music of a band that they happen to love. They imagine that this dislike must be the result of some inherent character flaw, a flaw that thankfully they don’t have. These same people seem to imagine that someone else who likes a band that they do not also possesses some inherent character flaw. People who like music that we do not are only feigning enjoyment in order to appear cool, something that we ourselves would never do. God, who has time to worry about such things? Here, however, is the very difficult truth: we are all conformists on some level. Those who truly do not conform are mostly dead, in jail, or are outcasts and pariahs. Clearly hipsters conform, but they also reject certain societal norms (which do you reject?). It appears that even these small rejections are enough to set off firestorms of rage and condemnation. The term ‘hipster’ is a handy put-down for all occasions. So here’s another truth: when you call out hipsters, or use ‘hipster’ as a way to stigmatise somebody else, you’re not only projecting your own fears of conformity onto somebody else, you’re also being an uptight moral guardian. You are keeping everyone in line. You are enforcing strict gender roles. You are enforcing strict dress codes. You are enforcing strict attitudes to taste. You are condemning those who veer, even slightly, away from what your idea of reasonable happens to be. Your friends probably agree with your judgments, so it feels right.
We are at a time when it is almost impossible to be truly rebellious in terms of dress or taste. Everything has a niche. Yet the ever-growing hatred of hipsters reveals a deep fear behind this liberal acceptance of most choices. It reveals a fear that we ourselves are merely well behaved consumers who in almost every sense toe the line. When faced with such gnawing insecurity about our own authenticity, if we can point and laugh elsewhere and attribute motives and ideas to complete strangers, then it helps us retain our own sense of individuality. Much like the right-wing tactic for demonising welfare recipients, almost everyone is able to trot out some story about a ‘hipster’ who possessed the most clichéd opinions and then apply this approach to everybody else who looks similar. Even if a person bears only a slight resemblance to our mental picture of a hipster, if they possess opinions about music or movies that differ from ours, then a quick, sneering ‘hipster’ or ‘snob’ remark will ease our troubled minds.