So, once, a girl I was dating and I were talking about something (who remembers. Or cares) and she called me a “Black Hipster.” This created the amazing conversation about whether black people can be hipsters, if there were such a thing as black hipsters, or if black people were automatically cool because they were black and, thus, not a hipster because (this was an actually conversation) hipsters have the simple purpose of trying to be cool. That is all a hipster wants and that is what black people already have. It’s taken me a bit to figure out that there were so many levels of bullshit in that conversation, a conversation I participated in, and I’m embarrassed about it. But, in order to justify the fact that I even talked about any of that, I did come to an interesting revelation. Hipsters are, typically, reviled. But they are only semi-hated because they are, in fact, cool, and we actually owe them. When you see a hipster, you should probably say “Thank you.”
First, what is a hipster, anyway? I believe the current, and most accepted definition is that a hipster is a rich white man with enough disposable income to buy $500 jeans, who listens to the newest, best music before it is the newest and the best, has an understanding of what is trendy and what isn’t and, this is the most important, is constantly looking for that new trend before it is a new trend. Even though the hipster’s main obsession is finding the “new thing” before anyone else, there is a certain conforming behavior to this clan. The new thing has to fit with a set of rules and, once the new thing is found, the rest of the hipster people have to understand that it is new, that it deserves the respect of the tribe, and then embrace it. When something is deemed worthy by hipsters it is always worthy until such time that it isn’t worthy. Then it no longer is worthy. New bands, new places to drink, new restaurants and new/old movies that have been found/discovered. The hipster’s existence is based on the discovery of that which is better.
Now, if hipsters make up less than 5% of the population of a city, but spend 100% of their time creating the arc of trend setting, then the rest of us are slaves to their will. I’m being serious. If a new restaurant is discovered and the hipsters love it, then everyone else loves it. We benefit from their obsession. Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Half the neighborhoods in DC. These places are livable because hipsters moved into them and drove the property prices up, causing gentrification (that’s a whole other blog post). Do you enjoy sitting in a coffee shop and looking at the internets? Thank a hipster. Vinyl records are something you can actually buy now because hipsters enjoy buying them. And your iPhone, which most of you cherish with an affection that you should seek help with, has apps that hipsters enjoyed and promoted first (instagram). Hipsters are pioneers, to be honest, and I think that’s why people (generally) hate them (collectively). Yes, their pants are too tight. Yes, their hair is a bit perfect in its imperfection. Yes, they do drive up the price of vintage shirts and, yes, I wish they would stop being so elitist about riding bikes everywhere.
Yes, they know too much about music I don’t give a fuck about. Yes, they defend Obama way, way, way too quickly. True, they do have an unhealthy affection for their pets. Yes, they like to “Hang out” too much and they do, yes, force you to drink beers that you sort of think smell like an old tennis shoe. Yes, they do spend too much time trying to impress each other and, yes, their dating life is more like a series of political decisions and less like an actual attempt at finding love. But, without them, half the world would be boring and useless. The rest of us are too busy to make life cool. If we had our way, we would basically sit at home on the weekends and watch football every weekend forever.
Coming back to my original point, somehow, the question still isn’t answered. Am I a hipster? I tend to say no, simply because I don’t really care what other people think about me. I tend to try and impress myself. And, on that rare occasion that I want to share something awesome with the rest of society, I ignore the impulse, keep it to myself, and, once the rest of you find what I’ve found years before, I abandon it because you’ve tainted it. And, by giving an answer, I’ve somehow forgotten what the subject was. What was the question again?
Update: My friend Tracy has informed me that, yes, black people can be hipsters. Here is the proof.