Are you a hipster?
Kevin Kloecker studies Gorilla vs. Bear for music reviews, reads “The White Negro,” listens to Glenn Branca and loves the movie “8 ½”. Haven’t heard of any of these things? You must not be a hipster.
Although Kloecker’s friends call him a hipster, he does not think of himself that way.
“I don’t really label myself,” said Kloecker, a sophomore history major. “I think I’m fashionable, youthful and interested in all things artistic, so that falls into the category, but I wouldn’t call myself a hipster.”
The term hipster was coined during the jazz age, derived from the word hip which described aficionados of the growing scene, wrote Dan Fletcher in his article “Hipsters” for Time magazine. The word has changed in meaning since the Jack Kerouac Beat Generation, where he described hipsters as “rising and roaming American, bumming and hitchhiking everywhere [as] characters of a special spirituality.”
So what is a hipster today? Although many people at Chapman are labeled as hipster and several companies, such as Urban Outfitters, have made a fortune by selling products aimed at them, there are very few that actually own up to being one. Ironically, hipsters can be defined by their refusal to define themselves. Doug Sweet, director of the undergraduate writing program, who is called a hippie by many people although he does not think of himself as one, describes hipsters as a group of people with observable cultural values that run counter to social norms.
“These people had an inability or unwillingness to accept the systems and structures that they live in so they tried to create another one,” Sweet said. “The problem is that you can’t create different systems and structures when they permeate every aspect of your life.”
Chapman hipsters passively work against the culture that they live in. They avoid mainstream things rather than pursuing political or activist measures.
“I don’t like politics. It confuses me,” said Gracie Wilson, a sophomore graphic design major (featured in the cover photo). Wilson is called a hipster because she stands out with her clothing and activities such as beatboxing while playing harmonica.
Hipsters are associated with listening to independent music, watching foreign films, buying clothes at thrift stores and reading books about the counterculture.
“A hipster is someone who goes out of the social acceptance of how to dress which isn’t defined by fashion magazines or the people around them,” said Arianne Advincula, a freshman English major. “Hipsters experiment with drugs and sexuality and take pride in not being like everyone else.”
Some people that are considered hipsters by their peers still buy many of their clothes from large corporate stores.
“I shop at Urban Outfitters, Zara and H&M, and I only really shop at vintage or thrift stores for accessories,” said Karen Liu, a freshman history major who is called a hipster because of the way she dresses.
Stephen Mastrocola thinks that these kinds of people are not real hipsters.
“The original hipsters were trendsetters, and once they set the trend, stores rushed to fill that demand,” he said. “The psuedohipsters buy that stuff. Places like Urban made the word turn into something that it shouldn’t be.”
Bradley Franco, a junior psychology major, said that hipster is more of a general term.
“You can describe hipster as a varying element. It is an artistic element bar none, but some people dress hipster to stand out, some dress more conservatively. There are some that do crazy things and some that don’t,” Franco said. “We are an individualistic culture that tries to be unique, and hipsters just try to do that more than others.”
After shedding light on the fact that he likes to dress well, rides a fixed gear bicycle, has an Android instead of an iPhone and bought a Coachella ticket but is planning to sell it, Franco concluded: “No, I would never call myself a hipster.”