Are Hipsters Now Free to Walk Our Streets?
Oct 19 2012
You know who it's fun to wind up? People that really, truly, venomously HATE "hipsters". I know, I know, it's a word that is difficult to say without your face hurting, but it's also the most useful shorthand we have at a time when some people consider shy Japanese boys dressed like John Lennon to be the same as Odd Future fans who go round making fart noises at old people in the street. It's a lazy term, but I'm gonna use it now – a lot – because I don't have the time to taxonomically list every variety of hipster clogging the cultural arteries of the Western world. I'm sorry. That's for another column.
Anyway, the other day I remembered a Tumblr I used to look at, before Tumblr was just pictures of A$AP Mob and haute couture models with their tits out on chaise longues, called Hackney Hipster Hate. I wondered if it was still going strong, like some kind of East London Tokyo Rose still bravely broadcasting while Palace Skateboards pop-ups and restaurants where you can't book a table exploded across the borough. Turns out, it hasn't been updated in two years.
The last photo on the site is this, which, judging by the Johnny Knoxville lookalike in the trucker cap, looks like it was taken in LA in 2002. Apparently though it's Broadway Market in Hackney in 2010. I don't really understand the joke the picture is trying to make, but I think it's safe to say that the blog didn't go out on a high note.
To be fair, the moderator of the blog was always fighting a losing battle, because he'd chosen to wage war on a subculture that defines itself through constant revision – if he was outraged by somebody talking on a mobile phone in a trucker cap in 2009, then god knows what he thinks of girls pairing bindis with Commes des Fuckdown hats three years later.
At first I thought that the blog must have expired through sheer cultural exhaustion, but then I had another thought: perhaps he'd learnt to accept hipsters, maybe he'd stopped hating, it could be that he'd realised the inherent decency in all men. Perhaps he'd even become one of them in some strange example of cultural Stockholm syndrome, walking among them now like Ed Norton at the end of American History X, denying his hateful past.
Then I remembered the spate of Dalston eggings that had gone on for a while, and they too seem to have stopped. From a personal perspective, I realised that I could wear a Hawaiaan shirt to a real pub without the landlord making a joke about it, that I no longer had to fend off pissed up shirtboys in taxi queues who were desperate to know whether or not I was the girl I was with's boyfriend or gay best friend, that it'd been years since I'd been heckled in the street. It was a strange feeling, a mixture of liberation and remorse for the days already gone, like Andy Dufresne emerging from a mile-long sewer of shit and finding himself in the smoking area of a trap night in a club that was built from the wreckage of The Blitz.
There's a theory (well, I think someone else has said this) that hipsters are basically an immigrant group. They all came from somewhere else chasing a dream, they live in tight-knit communities in low-rent parts of town, they have their own social scene, their own shops, they rarely integrate with the natives and they all dress kind of the same. Obviously I'm being facetious, this theory is massively reductive and we're not talking about the Windrush generation, but I think there's something in it.
Of course, all new communities take a while to gain acceptance, and I'm wondering if hipsters have finally attained it. Perhaps the only people still hating on them are bitter fringe crackpots who are trying to pass off their own grudges as some kind of movement. Perhaps people have realised that some aspects of gentrification are, y'know, actually quite good, and that it's better to witness that than the one that's turned the rest of the country into a homogenised hellhole with a ham and cheese croissant on every corner that hasn't been subsumed into the Slug and Lettuce empire. Maybe hipsters are now free to walk our streets, liberated from the threat of someone photographing them and affixing a thought bubble to their heads containing a punchline about cultural latency or apathy.
Oh wait, that's what you're into? That's so 2010.
Follow Clive on Twitter: @thugclive
Previously: Did This Guy Really Rob Amir Khan's Purse?
Read the previous editions of Clive Martin's Human Zoo here.