Friday, December 05, 2008

the core of this city

I just looked back in posts before my day and realized this has been covered to an extent, but why not bring it back up. I already typed it out anyway so...


Something I've been tossing around in my brain and discussing with others for a few years now is this:

What is a hipster, and, why are they misunderstood?

Wikipedia says:
"In the late 1990s and during the 2000s, the 1940s slang term hipster was used to describe young, urban middle class and upper class adults with interests in non-mainstream fashion and culture, particularly alternative music, independent rock, independent film, magazines like Vice and Clash and websites like Pitchfork Media, and organic, vegan, or locally-grown food. In some contexts, hipsters are also referred to as scenesters.

It is difficult to give a precise definition of a hipster, because hipster culture is a "mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behavior[s]." One commentator argues that "hipsterism fetishizes the authentic" elements of all of the "fringe movements of the postwar era—Beat, hippie, punk, even grunge," and draws on the "cultural stores of every unmelted ethnicity" and "gay style", and "regurgitates it with a winking inauthenticity" and a sense of irony."

"...difficult to give a precise definition..."

I need more clarity than this. Is it my server at The Tomato Head? Is it the dude with tattooed sleeves at the Pilot Light? Is it the band of pirate-looking kids at Sassy Ann's?

Am I one? Are you one?

(CK, I think you are one. Pol, you're right. You're not)

Besides the fact that it's probably not P.C. to use labels, I've been wondering why a hipster doesn't want to be called a hipster. I've talked to some friends at the Tomato Head who deny that classification, but why? Why wouldn't you want to be deemed hip? When did the term become derogatory? Could it be because the unmainstream has become mainstream? Does it have negative connotations in regard to personality or character?

I think the hipster is underrated and under-appreciated in Knoxville. They've been supporting and employed in businesses downtown and in the Old City for years now.

I think it's time for non-hipsters to recognize that it is not the hipster's thick-rimmed glasses, sweet road bike, or Chuck Taylor's that make them apathetic, detached, or intimidating, but factors that run deeper. I think the hipster is misunderstood. It's time they embrace who they are and realize their significance to this city.

So whatever words or accessories you use to describe a hipster, hug one today. They probably need it. I know I would.

Editors Note: To underscore Big B's post, here's an oldie but a goodie, via Eating the Earth is Easy:

17 comments:

benjamin said...

you're only a true hipster if you own a bruce willis vinyl.

Anonymous said...

You've hit the nail on the head with this one phrase. "Could it be because the unmainstream has become mainstream?" Yes! That's it!
The number one point of pride for a "hipster" is to be ultra-unique and unclassifiable. Once you peg him or her with a classification or a typology all unique-ness goes out the window and they're pegged as "just one of THOSE hipster types". Thus, all the glasses, tight pants, old t-shirts seem so tired and forced...not very hip.

The Pol said...

With the way all of those types of people seem to "toke the wacky-weed" it seems maybe we should call them "Hemp-sters"... get it.

This is really just anothr attempt to drive home the fact that I am not one.

CK enjoy it while it lasts, you're almost to old now

Big B said...

his job is too real too. and he built his own house. i take it back. you're not one.

max. said...

does beer taste different to hipsters? if not, i really don't care.

benjamin said...

i think if you were a can of pabst blue ribbon for halloween, then it is safe to say you are a hipster.

also, right on, anonymous. the reason it is harrd to define a hipster is because it is constantly changing. when something becomes too popular, its on to the next thing. or back to the previous thing. like cocaine!

benjamin said...

or jazz!

ck said...

don't be fooled by my successful career...at my core i like my hair to be dirty and just want to look down and sneer at mainstream people.

and the house? it's the ultimate one upper: "i built this myself. oh you didn't build yours? how unoriginal of you..." burn!

Mickey said...

As I see it, the only drawback to Tomato Head is that I'll never be cool enough to work there.

I'm just glad they let me come in to eat once in a while.

Big B said...

i was a can of PBR but didn't get hired at the tomato head...twice. I try so hard!

Discordia said...

I wish you guys would keep your focus more on all the happenings in this city like you used to always do.

Or at least stash the non-Knoxville centric posts somewhere that isn't alittleknoxvillian.blogspot.com :-/

stan said...

big b, glad to see you're bringing the heat back to a little knoxvillian. unlike discordia, i like and appreciate social commentary and believe you related it well knoxville.

here's one earth-shattering thought: the "hipster" style is no different than any other group of people with similar tastes. they're just the only group who's similarity of style is "not consumerist, trite, or in-authentic." which is exactly what it often turns out to be, but that's besides the point. like everyone else, they want to be a part of what is "in." but, like ben said, after everybody is on board, its off to the next thing.

humans have done this throughout history, we just used to call it "keeping up with the joneses." i guess this is more of beatinng them to the next punch, but the theme is the same. only the names change.

Big B said...

i have a lot more heat where that came from...

max. said...

maybe we should change our name to alittlecommunitycalender.blogspot.com

that would please the masses.

why do i feel temped to jump on dissident comments? i have nothing better to do.

Discordia said...

I'd probably read alittlecommunitycalendar.blogspot.com fairly regularly. And it's not just those articles that I enjoy...I love when you guys write about lesser known out of the way things that make knoxville special.

However, social commentary's...not so much. If you were to connect the "hipster trend" with skaweekend, or something else that's unique about Knox, then I'd never have voiced a comment on the topic. You did that partially in referencing tomato head, but that train was derailed before it even began.

Food for thought: Write up a social commentary on the Cult of the Sunsphere, given that it still exists...

stan said...

http://alittleknoxvillian.blogspot.com/2008/04/and-you-thought-only-you-took-it-too.html

it's not really social commentary. but do these guys need any analysis?

Big B said...

check this out!

http://www.metropulse.com/news/2009/jan/21/hipster-economics/