Wednesday, May 7, 2008


This post was inspired by my recent trip to the Coachella Music and Arts Festival. This music festival is infested with hipsters. If you aren't sure what classifies a person as a hipster, the video above will explain. I first saw this video a year ago. One of the things that makes it so funny to me, is that it is incredibly true. For example, the play-by-play analyst mentioned that a hipster would never admit to being a hipster (let alone participate in an event). The whole idea behind being a hipster is to have an "I don't care" attitude. Hipsters are passionate about very little and it's rare to catch them smiling.

Why this attitude? It's very similar to the hippies back in the 1960s. Of course their values and purposes were very different, but the crowd isn't. Both hippies and hipsters are made up of predominately upper middle class, young suburbanites. They are also, for the most part, college educated (most hippies dropped out of college, but still had experienced some college). Both of these counter cultures sprung from kids who are very well off. These suburban kids decided to abandon their upbringing for a less attractive lifestyle (hippies abandoned their parents' money/college, and hipsters abandoned caring).

This possibly happened for the same reason why rap music is mostly purchased by white, suburban teenage males, even though its target audience is the urban, African
teenage male. These kids seek to live a different life. Maybe a life that is a little risky, but not too risky.


Anonymous said...

Funny video about how music is about people trying to be like some ideal image of a person That is why hipsters dress the same.

Charles Hatfield said...

Maybe a life that is a little risky, but not too risky.

Funny, and trenchant.

Yes, hippydom, as a lifestyle movement (as opposed to the political movement out of which it sprang), was unintentional self-parody. At the same time, I wouldn't want to dismiss its discoveries and outrages too completely, because many people and many communities were changed, and I still see signs of that change around me. But this has more to do with the coalescence of youth-oriented political activism: the civil rights movement, the free speech movement, and of course, most obviously, the anti-war movement that was goaded by terror of the draft.

"Hipsters": the terminology dates to the Beat movement of the 1950s, which Norman Mailer famously described as "the white Negros," or would-be Negros. "Black" continues to be associated with outsider status in our society; check out Patti Smith's great, infamous song, titled (excuse me) "Rock'n'Roll Nigger."

That song still has the power to blow down barn doors.

I don't imagine too many of the hipsters at Coachella were invoking "blackness," though.

Speaking of which, what WAS it like?