The Hipster

“Angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night.” —Allen Ginsberg, Howl

I have a bone to pick.

I’m not a hipster. But I wouldn’t say I’m not a hipster, either. Here’s why: I stand by the truest sense of the hipster. One that dressed weird that opposed the mainstream as a beatnik in the ’60s. Hipsters stood against materialism, corporate culture and the rampant militarization of post-WWII America. Today, hipsters stand for pretension, pseudo-ironic clothing choices and over-wrought underground parties where they discuss the hardships of being over-educated and somber because no one is watching them labour away on their “nouveau” novel at the local café. Not Starbucks, café. Oh, there’s a difference. But truly, the hipster doesn’t stand for anything today. It’s a vacuous term for a vacuous non-culture.

The best part is that everyone loathes the hipster. Hipsters included. No one will admit to being a hipster, because labels don’t define who they are or some bullshit like that. But it’s not the hipster’s fault, wholeheartedly.

Today’s counterculture in the urban West also happens to be the mainstream. Everyone is unique and different, or so our parents, psychologists and that one teacher tell us. But we all wear the same skinny jeans, drink the same piss-poor Pabst, smoke the same Belmonts, and fuck the same half-caring partner. By attempting to be different and against the grain en masse, we are the grain. The supposed counterculture has become the mainstream culture, of which no one will admit.

There’s a reason for this quote-unquote counterculture. (And those are big, loose quotes.) In today’s time, generally speaking, there isn’t much to stand for outside of the mainstream. Art, music and culture has stagnated. Nothing is avant-garde. Nothing is pushing the limits. (And don’t tell me Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift or Diplo are pushing the boundaries. Let’s not go there.) We’re an entire generation that is overeducated and underemployed. We are being sold the same status quo-challenging Apple products, which is interesting, because Apple is the very definition of today’s status quo. Fuck, they have more cash on hand than the U.S. Reserve for chrissakes. Therein, we enter boredom and a quasi-movement called the hipster, which is a terribly water downed version of what the hipster really was.

I was holding out for some enlightening, you’re-about-to-spit-out-your-chocolate-milk musing to conclude. But that’s passé. Now, where the fuck is my Americano with a dose of pretense, barista?

—RYAN BOLTON

Written by Ryan Bolton

Ryan is a Toronto-based writer and photographer that likes to break the rules. His work has taken him around the world to do what he truly loves—storytelling. And drinking cold beer.