The Friday Fillip: Hip, Hip, Hooray?

Are you now or have you ever been a hipster?

Hard to tell, perhaps. And maybe, too, a label you’d like to avoid, because there’s a bit of social opprobrium out there aimed at hipsters. Not of the McCarthyite kind, of course; more of a wave of disdain and ridicule.

I’m clearly ok. Although, at first I was worried because a pork-pie hat seems to be part of the uniform and I do own one of those. And thick-rimmed glasses very like my own are in with that crowd. But then I learned that plaid is big with hipsters, and that lets me out completely. That and the fact that I’m more advanced in years than is . . . appropriate.

It’s difficult to tell the players without a program, though. You get a sense of this when you go to Wikipedia and the Urban Dictionary, where you’ll find long screeds explaining what constitutes a hipster, their length a sign that the matter is indeed vexed. It’s the clothing. It’s the music. It’s the politics, the fondness for “retro,” the “effortless cool.”

So what’s the hostility about? Well, there’s always friction between subcultures, as each vies for the top position. Remember high school? Jocks vs. socials vs. nerds etc. Some (presumably hipsters) would tell you it’s envy or resentment, as in this passage from the Urban Dictionary definition:

Hipsterism is often dismissed as just an image thing by some, but the culture as a whole is effecting changes in society, leading to feelings of insecurity and resentment in people who are no longer a part of the cultural ruling class. For example, a lot of anti-hipster sentiment evidently comes from culturally-clueless suburban frat boy types who feel that the more sensitive, intelligent, and culturally aware hipster ideal threatens their insecure sense of masculinity. Anti-hipster sentiment often comes from people who simply can’t keep up with social change and are envious of those who can.

(See also this piece in the Guardian from a couple of years ago: “Why do people hate hipsters?“.)

Hate ’em, love ’em — be one — here’s a Hipster Bingo card to let you play ’em.

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  1. Age need not be a barrier, Simon. Shave that beard into mutton chops, team the porkpie hat with skinny black jeans and Chucks, and you could pass for a hipster university prof…