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Hipsters never call themselves hipsters. Hipster is always a pejorative term. As Douglas Haddow wrote in a 2008 Adbusters article, "It is rare, if not impossible, to find an individual who will proclaim [himself] a proud hipster. It's an odd dance of self-identity—adamantly denying your existence while wearing clearly defined symbols that proclaim it."

Indeed, almost all writing on mainstream hipsters, from Time Out New York's ""The Hipster Must Die"" to the blog "Look at This [Expletive] Hipster," is loathing—and, inevitably, likely to be read with applause from hipsters themselves. If there's one thing a hipster hates, it's other hipsters.

As Haddow explains, it's easy to see why: "Hipsterdom is the first 'counterculture' to be born under the advertising industry's microscope, leaving it open to constant manipulation but also forcing its participants to continually shift their interests and affiliations. Less a subculture, the hipster is a consumer group—using their capital to purchase empty authenticity and rebellion. But the moment a trend, band, sound, style, or feeling gains too much exposure, it is suddenly looked upon with disdain. Hipsters cannot afford to maintain any cultural loyalties or affiliations for fear they will lose relevance …. The hipster represents the end of Western civilization—a culture so detached and disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new."

Which is why irony is the hipster's core value. (Remember the "end of irony" memes that circulated after 9/11 and Obama's election?) The much-lauded original hipsters of the 1940s appropriated elements of black culture (especially jazz culture) as a way to identify with it. Today's hipsters appropriate other ...

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In the Magazine

September 2010

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