Hipsters – the new unicorns?


Hipster cop, or a cop with a beard, became a meme after his star appearance at an EDL demonstration the other week. Turns out though, he’s more of a biker with access to moustache wax. Which makes me wonder, are hipsters the new unicorns?

No one admits to being a hipster. Even people who live in Moseley, ride a dutch bike or single speed, drink craft beer, collect vintage NWA on vinyl, have a beard if they’re a man or pastel coloured hair in a braid crown if they’re a woman, call their children things like Alfie, Bertie, Molly or Edith, only eat organic (unless they can grow their own, of course) and go to pop-up Japanese nights at their local micro-brewery won’t admit to being a hipster.

Of course, the thing about labels is that they’re only used to describe other people. Anyone who self-identifies as something is not to be trusted. When I was younger I was into metal and rock music and wore a lot of black and a shitload of badly applied eyeliner (not everything changes), but if anyone called me a goth I would be horrified. Anyone with even a tiny bit of music knowledge will know that goth and metal aren’t really the same thing; comparing Siouxsie and the Banshees to System of a Down is a bit like comparing Rihanna to Alanis Morisette. They have some things in common but overall they’re not the same. When I sneered that I wasn’t a goth and they asked then what I was, I never really had an answer. Anyone who does identify as part of the goth subculture will most likely add a few caveats rather than just accepting the blunt knife of one tag that doesn’t lend itself to nuance. Even if they wear white face paint, lots of lace and those weird witchy boots.

No one wants to be told what they are by someone else, which is just common sense really. Why would you happily let someone else define you, unless you’re really insecure? Labels are often negative as well; a source of derision. Who wants to self identify as a hipster when it means that people are laughing at your earnest love of locally sourced bespoke chutneys, or whatever? You spend ages cultivating an interest in something, you know because that’s what people do now there’s no hunting or gathering to see to, and then you find out that you’ve unknowingly stumbled into a cliché. You and a few other million people are into that thing you thought was niche and now you’re an object of ridicule rather than the inspiring and exciting individual you thought you were. But before you abandon that beehive you were building or the dandelion and elderflower wine you’re brewing, stop! Hold steady on that nautical themed hold steady tattoo you’re getting, you don’t have to quit any vaguely hipster activity you’re doing.

If you’re wearily plodding into your late 40s, have a Pinarello bike, squeeze yourself into ball-hugging lycra and get your Strava on every time you nip down the shops via the canal (soz other cyclists/pedestrians/geese), then you might be in danger of being declared a mamil. Mamil = middle aged man in lycra, the acronym leaves out the qualifier on a bike, probably because MAMILOAB doesn’t sound as good. No bike riding blokes I know will admit they’re a mamil, even if their wardrobe and obsession with co2 canisters suggests otherwise. And to be honest, any of the ones I actually know well aren’t really mamils, they might have the clothes and the bike and occasional run-ins with slow moving wildlife but in attitude, they’re ok really.

Labels and boxes are for products, not people. If you like doing the thing you’re doing, then carry on. Unless that thing you like doing is carrying signs for the EDL/BNP/UKIP/Tory party, because obviously that’s just wrong, you know, because on this blog I get to decide. If you like doing that you should stop, right now, and then seek help. Apart from that, seriously, do what you want. Like what you like. Even if it makes other people think you’re a hipster. We’ll forgive you. And we’ll definitely try your homebrew, at least once.

If you liked this, why not check out my blogs on art versus stupidity or opinions on the interweb. Plus you can follow me on Twitter @SallyWJones.

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