The Hipster Phenomenon
The first thing that hits me is the overwhelming smell of alcohol (most likely whiskey and Pabst Blue Ribbon), body odor and a hint of urine. Next is the Smith’s blaring from speakers towards the back of the “dance floor” hooked up to the DJ’s Mac laptop and finally the flannels. Almost everyone in the room has on some type of flannel shirt, blouse or scarf rolled up just enough to give a sneak peek of their full sleeve tattoos. Yes, I have found myself in a hipster dive bar in the center of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Living in the East Village of New York City, I have been forced to examine the question; Am I a hipster? Even contemplating the question is ironic in itself because it seems as though no one will admit to being a part of this tragically trendy, cigarette smoking subculture. I find myself immersing every aspect of my life in the hipster culture while rejecting it all at the same time. What is the cultural significance of this hipster phenomenon? Do hipsters mirror American culture in the sense they are a group of broke 20 something’s lost in the melting pot? There are many different views in our society today about this particular sub culture but no one seems to be able to pin point the impact it is having on our culture. The significance of the hipster phenomenon proves to be an iconic American subculture defining a generation through their societal views, fashion and lifestyle propensities. Nostalgia plays a large role in the views of the hipster. Being apart of Generation Y, the current hipster has prolonged childhood as long as possible. Some call it lazy, others are calling it a social revolution but the question here is, why? Why are people getting married later? Why are 26 year olds still living with their parents? “Maybe it’s only now, when young people are allowed to forestall adult obligations without fear of public censure, that the rate of societal maturation can finally fall into better sync with the maturation of the brain. -a theory put forth in the 1940s by the psychologist Abraham Maslow” (Henig, 2010). In my opinion the American economic downturn fuels the hipster yearning for nostalgia of their childhood and is responsible for why many 20 something’s have yet to become responsible adults. “Gen Yers have been told since they were toddlers that they can be anything they can imagine. It's an idea they clung to as they grew up” (Hira, 2007). Now that the economy has crumbled before our eyes hipsters long for the past when the American Dream still seemed like a possibility. They turn to living in the moment and making themselves happy because “Gen Yers were not promised a healthy, happy tomorrow. So they're determined to live their best lives now” (Hira, 2007). The 90’s were the glory days for the hipster so they emulate it in their life especially in fashion choices like the flannel shirt and trends like old video games such as Nintendo. These uninspiring economical times resulted in uninspiring ideas, which is why the hipster regurgitates trends that have already happened. They are the nostalgic for times of good ideas and good fortune. Views of the hipster are directly correlated with the economic state the country is in right now. The entire movement mirrors it in the form of the culture of a new generation trying to cope with the fact that jobs are limited, the cost of education is higher than ever and student loan interest rates are skyrocketing. There is no promise that anyone will get a job straight out of college to pay back those expensive student loans. All inspiration has been lost and replaced with stress. The future had become a threat instead of a promise. “To be a young American today is to experience both excitement and uncertainty, wide-open possibility and confusion, new freedoms and new fears” (Henig, 2010). As a result, this new generation of hipsters’ number one priority is making themselves happy first. They question...
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