Enough time has passed since the world was at Peak Hipster for us to look back at it as a movement, or a craze, or a meme, or whatever the fuck it was and try to take stock of what it all meant, if anything. So this week we're doing exactly that in a short collection of stories.
There's really no way to get around the fact that VICE is, or at least was—and probably still is, depending on who's asking—definitely, probably, at least a little bit totally hipster. For that we will offer no apologies, yield not a single inch of ground, other than to say fuck it, somebody else was probably going to go to that dog show on acid.
Still, much like being too drunk or being too into Marxism, there's such a thing as being too hipster. What that means, however, is totally open to interpretation. Is being too hipster getting thrown out of a club in Dalston, or is it becoming gravely ill from a DIY tattoo?
In the spirit of journalistic inquiry and in a misguided attempt to figure out what the term "hipster" means to the humans of VICE, I decided to ask a few of my fellow VICE staffers to tell me the most hipster thing they've ever done. The first answer from a lot of these people was something along the lines of, "Took a job at VICE lol," but after I berated them for not taking my dumb article idea seriously they actually ended up telling me some personal stories, and in the process revealed what hipsterdom means to them.
Clive Martin (Staff Writer, VICE): Accidentally Shaved Off a Chunk of Hair While Getting a Homemade These New Puritans Haircut
It was 2008, if that in any way excuses it. I didn't even like These New Puritans that much, but their Hedi Slimane-approved buzzcut back 'n' sides dos were all the rage, and because I was (and am) precisely that kind of person, I decided I wanted one. Borrowing my dad's clippers, I set about my own head, but didn't quite secure the number 3 clip on properly. The clip slid off mid-shave, sending the cool steel of the 0 onto my head, clearing a massive patch of aggravated beige skin, making me look not unlike a dog who'd recently undergone keyhole surgery.
Compounding this horror was the fact I had a date that night with a girl I made out with while watching The Teenagers at the Astoria2, so in order to salvage it I came up with a plan to reattach my own dead, severed follicles to my head with a wing, a prayer, and some strong wax.
It held up alright in the temperate climate of my bedroom, but I hadn't factored in the light and heat of a bar, which meant that, not long into the date, the waxy, hairy mess started dribbling down my temple. The date didn't go well. I haven't cut my own hair since.
Jo Fuertes-Knight (Producer/Host, VICE): Became Gravely Ill from a DIY Tattoo
Have you heard of these things called tattoos? They're a really cool thing to have in lieu of having a personality. I have 20! They're also a huge "fuck you" to my parents, who can't even FATHOM the pain behind the artistry of my career in new media.
When I first started getting heavy into tattoos, guys called Ollie or Josh or Theo would even ask where my "art" was from at pop-up streetwear shop openings and I'd be like, "Ugh, just let me be me," even though they probably just asked cause I'd be wearing sleeveless American Apparel outfits in the dead of winter.
But out of the grammatically-wrong Ghostface Killah one, the one I tried to do myself that ended up looking like a cock-n-balls and the one on my ass, my darkest moment is letting my struggling musician bae tattoo me with a gun from eBay and a sterilizing kit comprised exclusively of Glen's vodka in his shitty Dalston apartment where everyone inexplicably could afford a MacBook but not curtains. IKR? It's so wild that that ended up with permanent scarring, a week long ordeal of pus trying to punch its way out from under my flesh, and a hallucinatory fever.
Anyway, now that my posture's gone to shit and my tattoos look less like youthful nihilism and more like I've had too much time on my hands, they've kinda lost their sheen (jks, I've got another booked for next week). But on the bright side, at least three people—including my new line manager—have used me as the basis for their fancy dress "East London dickhead" outfits.
Angus Harrison (Staff Writer, Thump): A Variety of Music-Related Offenses
During my fresher's week at university I bonded with a guy over a shared love of the band Battles, a friendship that resulted in us getting our ears pierced together a week later. It was around this time I was also partial to wearing a tweed blazer over a New Order T-shirt.
Also, an Arcade Fire live show once made me cry.
Alex Miller (Global Head of Content): This Appearance on BBC News After Klaxons Won the Mercury Prize
Emma Garland (Staff Writer, Noisey): Most of the Major Events of 2015
Within the last year alone I have: attended a Morrissey show for free and left during the encore; taken a photograph of some graffiti outside the VICE office that said "Dear Vice: shut the fuck up" and put it on Instagram; been paid to write an article about punk; drank in BrewDog; boycotted BrewDog; blogged about two vegans (one of which was me) rating the Lil B app and published it on the hip music website Noisey dot com; tweeted about coffee, taken a selfie in American Apparel; sung on an album that was released on cassette only; self-released a compilation on cassette only; attended a PC Music event at the Institute of Contemporary Arts; moaned that it is 2015 and there is still no avocado emoji; tried to contact Adam Brody to get him to write Seth Cohen's "Indie Guide to Christmas" and heard nothing back; misrepresented myself horribly by intentionally plucking out all the times I was most hipster for the purposes of a VICE article about being a hipster.
There is more, but you're probably busy throwing up in the trash—the one I got for my apartment ages ago, before everyone had them.
Joel Golby (Staff Writer, VICE): Inadvertently Become Chief of the Hipsters
I've tried for ages now and I truly can't think of a single aggressively hip thing I have done. I mean, yes: I literally work for VICE. I own a plaid shirt and my jeans are not big enough for me. My jeans are too small. And I write complex, dense, overly self-aware little news stories that are mainly about myself. I pretend they are about the news story, the subject and the object and whatever, but really they are about me.
But what have I done that's hip? I've never ironically done meth or cared about coffee or really stayed at a party past 3 AM, into those blurry grey hours where things get a bit weird, the Bill Murray hours, where those stories you hear about fun people happen. I'm incapable of growing a beard and I've always paid rent for my accommodation and people who are musically inclined are always too fundamentally irritated by me—what's your problem, musicians?—for me to have one of those cool "I stayed up all night and ate falafel with New Young Pony Club in 2008"—type stories that everyone else seems to have. New Young Pony Club would not want to be my friend. New Young Pony Club would absolutely ditch me at a bus stop, all of them pretending at once that they left a coat at the pub we were at.
So there is only one conclusion to be drawn from this, and that is basically that I am actually so un-self aware—so distantly detached from who I am and what I do every day vs wider society and my friends' general perception of me—that I am at some sort of hipster apex, living every day in my Urban Outfitters-issued uniform with my Red Wings and my Uber X and my obtuse boasts (I have never heard In the Airplane Over the Sea all the way through! I'm very unique!) that actually I am Lord Hipster, I am Chief of the Hipsters, and the only thing stopping me from breaking through and realizing my hipsterdom is naïve ignorance, a whispered self admission. So I guess, in answer to your question: the most hipster thing I have done is live my entire life completely unwoke.
Robert Foster (Editor, Branded Content): Everything He Did in the Last 10 Years
It's been a great ten years for me. Here's a list of some of the terrible things I've done:
I've overdosed on weird internet drugs at a rich pop star's house; got tattoos that make me look like a criminal from the 1930s; had a VICE blog post written about my neck; lost my Penfield jacket at a Bleach Christmas party; been thrown out of the Alibi; played crazy golf with Courtney Love; had a sarcastic Myspace; DJed a mix of 90s rap and punk rock without mixing; gone to art school; lived with a number of indie rock drummers of note in a dirty live/work space in Dalston; been into hardcore; told people I'm over hardcore; worn a lot of hardcore shirts; done terrible tattoos on people at home; made branded content; worked in a sneaker store in Soho; taken a lot of film photos; started and ended at least six blogs to varying degrees of success; attended the Boiler Room in the actual boiler room; written about how hating hipsters is for boring people; been called a poser by at least one member of every youth subculture; talked at Harmony Korine while he looked uncomfortable for five minutes; stolen a cardboard cutout of Selena Gomez from the Spring Breakers premiere; shit-talked on the internet; shit-talked on coke; worn a fitted cap; worn a five-panel cap; worn a snapback cap; got over caps; got into memes; wore a lot of grey Nike jumpers; had a still from The Simpsons as my Facebook profile picture; got a joke tattoo and posed shirtless in an issue of Super Super.
It feels good to get that off my chest. I'm well aware of how absolutely ghastly I sound, but does it change anything if I say that it's all been super fun?
I should also add that throughout all of this fucking nonsense I've never had a moustache, eaten stupid cereal, worn fake glasses, taken a photo of my dinner with a filter, worn tweed, fussed about vinyl, or been a vegetarian.
Bruno Bayley (Editor, VICE Magazine): Spends a Lot of Time Building Model Planes
I am slightly upset that my very quiet, introverted hobby has been rolled into this feature—but I guess no one ever considers what they do to be a "hipster" thing.
I make scale models. Only 1:48 scale. Only ever airplanes. And almost only ever World War Two-era—though I sometimes flirt with post-war aircraft as long as they are piston engined. No jets. I have been doing this since I was about six, when I vividly remember getting yellow Humbrol paint all over my grandfather's kitchen while making a Sea King rescue helicopter in Penkridge, Staffordshire.
I guess it is a very niche hobby, which allows me to go to niche shops and bore people with the minute details of my secret alone time that they don't give a toss about. Which certainly sounds very annoying and "hipster-y". I do also buy vintage books online about camouflage and markings for certain aircraft. I bought a Tamiya T-shirt. I even joined a scale modeling forum, but got too scared to post because I am not as good at it as everyone else (and also because the preponderance of Union Jacks on the homepage made me fretful that it was some sort of BNP splinter group).
On reflection, I guess on a sort of twat-matrix my model making does tick a lot of totally asshole boxes.
Ryan Bassil (Staff Writer, Noisey): Everything He Did in His Formative Years
In my teens I refused to shop anywhere besides Beyond Retro, downloaded Hadouken remixes from the Hype Machine, and read the Hipster Runoff (RIP, sweet prince) like a homework assignment. Back when Foals had only released "Hummer" and "Mathletics" I went to a gig and did a handstand and split my pink skinny jeans in half. I own an album by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! and have a signed illustration from Dev Hynes. I guess you could say I was an entry-level hipster. Would I admit to it, though? No way. Which I guess is the over-riding point here. Being sincere is for lame-streaming art students, not cool-ass people like me.
Sam Wolfson (Editor, Noisey): Interned at VICE as a Teenager
Back when I was 17 and still at school, I interned once a week at VICE for a year. I would go to double politics on a Monday morning and then bunk off assembly and IT skills and come and work here (well, not here exactly, in the old VICE office that looked a bit like the studio of a YBA with a drinking problem).
Imagine what a good look hipster-wise that was back in 2007. I liked it here, too. You could go to the shop and buy, like, chocolate literally whenever you wanted. There was a guy called Aaron who looked like Barry Manilow who was nice to me, and a drawer full of porn that I definitely never stole from. The guy I was interning for was called Dom. He called me Teenwolf and I let him think that I hadn't heard that before. We're still friends to this day.
The main stories I remember working on were about alcoholics stealing hand sanitizer from hospitals and whether you could actually get drunk on Purell (the less said about those experiments the better) and the right way to open up a shaken up can of beer (which I think was just an excuse to take photos of my hot friends covered in Budweiser foam). Neither of those still seem to be online. In fact, all that remains of that time here seems to be this interview with then-quite trendy rapper Yelle and whatever the hell this unintelligible 150-word bit of nonsense with a picture of a guy in a fridge is supposed to be about. I also remember going to VICE's one-off festival, Tales of the Jackalope, and stealing loads of booze from the artist liaison by going "Mark E Smith says he needs a bottle of vodka right now and he's not going on stage without it." Peak hipster.
Anyway, five years later, I ended up back here. It's basically the same deal except there's a Nespresso machine and no porn drawer.