Hipsters make me gaga
Has anyone noticed an increased amount of men wearing skinny jean cutoffs? I know I have. I believe this bold fashion statement must be attributed to the rise in the number of hipsters — I dislike hipsters. "The Hipster Handbook" by Robert Lanham defines a hipster as "one who possesses tastes, social attitudes and opinions deemed cool by the cool." The definition sarcastically continues, "Note: It is no longer recommended that one use the term "cool," a hipster would instead say ‘deck.'" The hipster walks among the masses in daily life but is not a part of them and shuns or reduces to kitsch anything held dear by the mainstream." I would like to dissect these two of the clauses of the definition.
First, let's examine what it means to be cool. Cool, as slang, has no concrete definition. Naturally, since it is slang, we must consult multiple sources to find a workable definition. The theme song to "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" offers one definition, "chillin out, maxin, relaxin all cool," offers a few ideas as to what cool means. So chilling, maxing and relaxing is one definition we could potentially use. A second definition comes from the Urban Dictionary, when someone is cool, they are popular, suave and you like them. I think that we have to use this second definition to truly understand the first clause. Since the cool are deeming what is cool, the cool must be people and thus we can rewrite the clause to read, "one who possesses tastes, social attitudes and opinions deemed [popular, suave and you like them] by the [popular, suave and you like them]."
Next, we will examine the second clause. Instead of looking for definitions, let us dissect the sentence. "The hipster walks among the masses in daily life" clearly means they are part of the general population. However, the hipster "is not a part of [the masses]" meaning they consider themselves separate from society. We now have two distinct groups: The masses and the hipsters. Finally, a hipster "shuns or reduces to kitsch anything held dear by the mainstream." This causes some confusion since the hipster defines itself as not part of the masses so rejecting the mainstream means rejecting mainstream hipsterism. Hipsters reject hipsters, clearly a paradox. Is there a true hipster in existence? Yes — Lady Gaga.
Now I am sure a number of self-defined hipsters will take offense, but I present this in an analytical way. Lady Gaga holds true to the definition of hipster. Gaga is famous for her style, taste and attitudes. By the definition of cool that we use — popular, suave and you like them — Gaga fits the bill. If anyone has turned on a mainstream radio station it is clear to see that she is popular, suave (bararing the airport incident) and people truly like her, even if it is for the wrong reasons.
Gaga is also heavily involved in the masses of daily life but, through her own volition, removes herself from the masses through the use of her style, taste and attitude. Similarly, Gaga has demonstrated numerous times that she has no desire to be involved with anything mainstream. She refers to her fans as "little monsters" and acts more like Snooki in public than Snooki does. Camille Paglia, from UK's Sunday Times, wrote an article dissing Lady Gaga. However, she presents a point in the piece titled "Lady Gaga and the death of sex" that supports the idea that Gaga is a truly inspired hipster. "Although she presents herself as the clarion voice of all the freaks and misfits of life, there is little evidence that she ever was one. Her upbringing was comfortable and eventually affluent, and she attended the same upscale Manhattan private school as Paris and Nicky Hilton." Sound like any hipsters you know?
Hipsters are constructions of apathy. Gaga — along with her poker face — has become the definition of apathy. In fact, her entire persona is a construction meant to make money instead of a pursuit of passion. If anyone is familiar with the musical inclinations of Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta they will see a woman aspiring to be the next Norah Jones. Stefani is no more, and Gaga has become a living character, which droves of people idealize for being different and herself. That is simply not true, she killed herself and Gaga is just an imposter.
I know that by writing this I give attention to hipsters and effectively validate their ridiculous ideals. I just want people to recognize that definitions have begun to run out lives. You can't just belong to humanity, you must be defined. If you are going to be defined make sure you are doing it because it is what you believe. There is no room for apathy in this world, yet our culture is moving closer and closer to one of indifference. Let me leave you with Shakespeare, "To thine own self be true and it must follow as the night, the day. Thou canst not then be false to any man."
Neil P. Kypers is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in political science. He is the editor-in-chief of The Daily Targum.