The XX Factor

When Hipster Hating Stops Being Cute

Thank you, Jessica , for coming down on that silly article trying to raise ire against people who are, whether they dress with more flair than the average Joe, still victims of the recession and deserve our sympathy. The writer, Jennifer Bleyer, deserves an award in the art of using loaded language to lure her audience into sitting in judgment of people for basically eating healthy food instead of junk food while on food stamps. It wasn’t just the use of terms like “delectable” and the focus on rare purchases of cheese your average person doesn’t know the name of. The starkest example of priming the well was the use of the increasingly meaningless term “hipster,” a term guaranteed to set a vocal population of impossibly bitter readers into full-blown judge-and-scold mode.

People who were geeks and outcasts in high school are way overrepresented in the ranks of hipsterdom in my experience, and yet the way people carry on about them, you’d think they were a pack of adult Heathers , dashing into the homes of innocent Hootie and the Blowfish fans to ransack the place and throw out all the khaki pants. I’ve been on the receiving end of more than one online “I hate hipsters!” freakout for using my personal blog and Twitter to talk about bands I like that the angry person has presumably never heard of. The circle of things that make someone eligible for this overwrought anger seems to be growing, too. It used to be that you were a bad person just because you had good taste in music or were a bit of a fashion victim. But now you’re a “hipster” if you’re a foodie? I know middle-aged women who wear overalls and like Celine Dion who are foodies. I’ve even seen the term flung at people for the high crime of being a smart-ass. I’m not saying there aren’t hipsters who gain self-esteem by obsessing over people who aren’t as cool as them, but honestly, that kind of behavior is really rare in my experience.

I can’t help but think the use of the term “hipster” has become a signal to people that it’s safe to engage in the all-American sport of arguing that we don’t need no stinkin’ culture, and that arty-farty people are elitist scum who think they’re sooooooo smart. Right-wing nuts don’t need an excuse to engage in that sort of thing, but I guess liberal-minded people itching to engage in a little philistine-tinged haterade relish the opportunity to aim that energy at people who offend them by being big time into indie rock and vintage fashion.

Overall,  hipster hating is a harmless pursuit aimed at relatively privileged people who can shrug it off most of the time (even if it annoys me when people tweet at me while I’m off at South by Southwest). But when it’s used to bash people who’ve found themselves out of work and on food stamps, that’s when it stops being cute, and starts being cruel. What next? Wishing death on someone who takes comfort in their love of rock music after a cancer diagnosis?