Are You a Hipster or Scenester?
Via Harper’s, a.k.a. the best magazine in the world, ever, below is a tasty sampling of multiple interviews conducted with young people as part of research for a paper published in The Journal of Consumer Research. The study “explores the identity of investments that consumers make in the field of indie consumption, which was been culturally branded by the hipster marketplace myth.”
James, 22, a student, said, “In some ways [being called a hipster] is sort of a compliment. I have been searching for an identity since I was a little kid. And to be associated with something that has to do with culture and being in the know about things and maybe having a bit of an edge about you, looking at things critically, society, things like that, being somewhat intellectual: I don’t think those are really bad things.”
Another student, Chris, 20, said, “Pabst Blue Ribbon. That’s the hipster beer. There’s that with everything. It’s exhausting, absolutely exhausting. And that’s why I don’t try to keep up with it. If I was sitting here right now, and I had girls’ jeans on, and a funky haircut, and was drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon all the time, and getting import copies of Swedish psychobilly folk noise pop, whatever the hell, and reading David Sedaris, and watching obscure samurai trash cult movies, if I was going for this just way-obscure, cooler-than-you-in-every-possible-conceivable-way kind of thing, I just wouldn’t really feel like myself anymore.”
(Um, no one under 30 has probably ever even heard of David Sedaris, Chris. I think –– though I don’t know for sure; I’m an oldice –– that the kids these days are into Dave Eggers, Zadie Smith, ZZ Packer, Heidi Julavits, and Jonathan Safran Foer. And that bald guy with the glasses who wrote Running With Scissors. That guy. And maybe Michael Chabon.)
Betty, 22, a customer service agent, said, “A hipster is somebody who cares about the music. They’re really cool looking, and I guess they shop at thrift stores. They’re ‘do-it-yourself’ and very heavily invested in the indie-music scene. A scenester is somebody who does it for fashion and gets their clothes at, like, Urban Outfitters and pays $200 for a pair of jeans, which I think is ridiculous, but that’s just me.”
The confused Scarlett, 22, a booking agent and retailer worker, said, “I’m not gonna lie. I shop at Urban [Outfitters] sometimes; only when it’s on sale, of course. I like doing a lot of the things that are the hipster thing to do, but I do them because I like them, not because they’re the cool thing to do. And because I am immersed in the social scene, where there are a lot of hipsters, people mistake me for being one of them.”
Tom, a 27-year-old bar manager, said, “Do I self-identify as [a hipster]? No, because, like, I’m just a little more anachronistic. I’m not as with it as a lot of people are. I don’t necessarily know every single weird obscure band. I don’t necessarily want to. I mean, yeah, I hang out with, like, a bunch of tattooed indie dorks. So, yeah, I guess I am, but I wouldn’t self-identify. Like, I listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd unapologetically. I [expletive deleted] love Skynyrd!”