"NO HIPSTERS! Don’t be coming in here with your hairy faces, your vegan diets, your tiny feet, your sawdust bedding….no, wait….Hamsters. No Hamsters!” You probably saw the chalkboard café sign doing the rounds online. You may have smiled wryly, even as you dug your nails into your clenched palms.
Why do we hold hipsters in such contempt? And why will nobody admit to being one? Are they finally on the way out? The first question answers the second – even members of the long-mocked genre of Goth will happily (in a manner of speaking) own their Gothness.
Not the hipster. Nobody will admit to being one, even when they are standing in front of you in skinny jeans and a work shirt with a raccoon stapled to their face, rocking the lumbersexual look despite being entirely unsuited to any terrain beyond the reach of a soya flat white and gluten free quinoa cupcake. They may look like tree choppers and railroad builders, but hand them an axe and they’d faint.
The hipster is an urban creature, an urban invention. Only cities can contain them, as they twirl around in their waxed moustaches and facial topiary looking like Victorian sex offenders on skateboards — but we have long since passed peak-hipster.
When cocktails in jam jars feature in Eastenders, you know it’s dead in the water. When you have hipsters on the Great British Bake Off — the beardy one chucking baked alaska around— it’s even deader.
John Waters, in his latest book Car Sick, imagines being part of a freak show at a Hipster Carnival —The Man With No Tattoos. (“More Shocking Than Octopus Man!”) Everyone has a tattooed neck these days, even your mum. It’s over.
It’s not so much the hipster lifestyle that makes people hate hipsters so much that there is a blog in Brooklyn called DieHipster.com that features a daily Hipster Beating.
Upcycling, granny glasses, part-time veganism interspersed with ‘dirty’ burgers, an obsession with obscure coffee and craft beer — these things are merely irritating. Stupid mashup foods like the cronut. The expression ‘mashup’.
Fetishising cassettes, vinyl and old school analogue equipment, not because it makes music sound better, but because it matches the whole retro-ironic vintage thing. And paying for everything in bitcoins.
Annoying, yes, pretentious, yes, herdlike, definitely. But what inspires these regular (fantasy, one hopes) Hipster Beatings? “Today, I saw 30 year old, parentally enabled Logan long-boarding to yoga class in East Bushwick Heights dressed like Stan Laurel. So I put on brass knuckles, fired my self out of a cannon and shattered every bone in his pubic bearded face. End of story.”
Or how about “Today I saw a Chapstick-limbed Abraham Lincoln bearded food truck ‘curator’ sipping his zany Srirachra sauce flavoured latte. So I Krazy glued his eyelids to the curb and ran him over with a street sweeper. End of story.”
The hostility to hipsters goes deeper than faux-psychotic responses to their infantilised fauxhemian whimsy. On their own, girls with Betty Page fringes on wicker-basket fronted bicycles cycling to the overpriced flea market to pay big money for old rope, or to meet their similarly attired friends for a slice of kale cake and a jam jar of artisan gin , should not engender such unbridled antipathy.
They are merely daft, and there’s never been any harm in daft. Daft is great. We love daft.
No, the problem with hipsters is that they are synonymous with the G word. Gentrification. Hipsters ruin neighbourhoods. It all started in Brooklyn in the mid-90s, when rents were still cheap.
Then when Williamsburg became overrun with beards and craft ale and became almost as expensive as Manhattan, hipsterism spread to other parts (the author of Hipster Beatings pertains to be a ‘normal’ Brooklynite driven mad by the mommy-funded hipster influx from states like Wisconsin).
In London, the affordable boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets have been decimated by hipsters. Where once you could buy a bag of drugs in Hackney simply by leaning out your window, since the hipsters have moved in, these days it’s all about brunch.
When twin hipsters with matching beards opened a café in Shoreditch selling imported breakfast cereal of the most juvenile variety for £3.20 a bowl, there was non-specific uproar.
It just annoyed people. Nearby Brick Lane, once Jewish, then Bengali, always cheap and lively, has been similarly colonised, as has Brixton, formerly Afro-Caribbean, now hipster. In the Kreuzberg and Neukoln areas of Berlin, so turbo charged is the gentrification there that bars have been known to put “No Hipsters Or Tourists” signs outside to deter non-locals. It’s not working. Berlin, once the haven of skint artists, has gone hipster. It’s even happening in Poland.
What makes cities great is the massive mix of cultures. That’s why we move to cities — to be part of that diversity. It’s never boring. What is very boring indeed is when a place becomes overrun by pop-up hand-crafted single-estate kidults who shove the rent skyward and make it impossible to live there unless you work for Google or run a café selling Monster Munchies. That’s the real problem with hipsters — not their beards. Although the beards definitely don’t help.