Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac

A Brief History of Hipsters

So why are hipsters relevant to your quest to look like a rock music buff? Well, almost every music buff you’ll encounter will be a hipster, so it’s important to have context. Modern hipsters are middle and upper class young adults who immerse themselves in alternative culture of almost every kind – film, music, art, literature, fashion, food, etc. A bricolage of cultural influences, the hipster is semi-cynical toward alternative cultures, embracing them while also ridiculing them as phony. Hipsters are true practitioners of doublethink in this sense.

The history of hipsters begins in the 1940’s. Like most things hipster, even the name of the subculture was appropriated from some other cultural movement – hipsters in the ‘40s were connected with the modern jazz scene, spending most of their time smoking pot and calling each other hepcats. Beatnik authors like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsburg were associated with this movement.

Somewhere along the line, the term was reassigned to the growing subculture of young adults in the 1990’s and 2000’s and quickly became a badge of shame; no one wants to be called a hipster. Today, hipsters are largely seen as pretentious, fake and self-aggrandizing.

The hipster’s relationship with music is perhaps most prominent hipster-related topic discussed in alternative media, and it’s also the root of our interest in hipster culture. When it comes to music, hipsters glorify the bizarre and the alienating; on the subject of a recent surge of interest in metal from hipsters, Slate writer Brandon Stosuy said “the current revival seems to be a natural mutation from the hipster fascination with post-punk, noise, and no wave.”

What the heck is “no wave?” “Noise” is a genre of music? Yeah, it’s weird. That’s the point.