We twenty-something urban adults pride ourselves in being open-minded and tolerant: we frown upon people who show signs of racism or sexism, and like to think of ourselves as peace-loving creatures. There is, however, a hatred bubbling under the surface, which has fortunately as yet only manifested itself in speech and writing. The amount of hate speech expressed openly on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and even newspapers is astonishing, and it only makes me wonder: What have the hipsters done to you?
The rise of hipcism*
William Satire wrote an ingenious essay in 1985 about sexism in which he created a highly provocative effect by substituting all words denoting ‘men’, ‘women’, ‘feminism’ and everything in relation to these categories with ‘black’, ‘white’, ‘racism’ etc. Now if we’d try the same test with a text trashing hipsters the results would be similar. Why is it OK to say “Hipsters should be all rounded up and shot” (direct quote, by the way), and why does the group create such strong emotions among the Others? Is it the plaid or the heavy rimmed glasses? Indie music? Canvas bags? Must be the moustache, they’re not taking it seriously.
One of the positive side effects of hipcism is the amount of humour it has inspired. Hipster Hitler is one of the wittiest comics online, and the amount of music videos and all kind of satire about hipsters is enormous, and some of it even good. But comparing Hitler and hipsters? Of course it’s just a satire, and an endless source of puns and jokes, but it doesn’t change the fact that hipsters are one of the most hated groups of today.
The burden of identity
Is it after all just prejudice, as in all the other isms as well? A fine example is the Flow Festival in Helsinki, a music festival that also offers art installations and good food to its guests. And everyone who goes there is a hipster, and they only want to make an appearance, say the Others. It continues to amaze me how much irritation and disgust the festival stirs among people who have even never set foot on the festival area (and according to them, never will). Facebook is suddenly full of hateful remarks of “hipsters ruining my weekend” and “hipsters riding their damn bikes everywhere”, but as my friend recently remarked, the Others should actually be happy that the hipsters are for once all in one place, and the rest of the city is then hipster-free.
Rob Horning says in his article that “–hipsterism forces on us a sense of the burden of identity, of constantly having to curate it if only to avoid seeming like a hipster. But are there hipsters, actual hipsters, or just a pervasive fear of hipsters?” I guess it means everything’s OK in the world if hipsters are the biggest evil there is.
*Hipcism=Hip+cism, on the model of racism, sexism, ageism etc.
Berlin hosts Hipster Olympics in July; the games include for example throwing of horn-rimmed glasses and iPhone poking. What would be your suggestion for a Hipster Olympics game?