Oberlin Blogs

The hipster's dilemma.

August 29, 2010

Karl Orozco ’13

Attending Oberlin College seems to cause most of the population to be pegged into one of two "h" words: Hippies and hipsters. Same first syllable, but that second syllable makes all the difference.

Most of the general public probably knows what a hippie is. But a hipster? To explain this new hipster phenomenon, I am going to call upon the good people from Honda of Australia to help out. This way I don't have to take responsibility for any incorrect information about hipsters I spread! Yay!

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Due to my admitted cleanliness and severe lack of tye-dyed clothing, I am routinely classified as the latter: A hipster. Karl, the hipster. Drinking your PBR, reading your Kafka, and complaining about Grizzly Bear's dive into the mainstream as I shoot looks of disinterest, disdain, and distaste.

I do not think I am a hipster (of course, I have now fallen into the trap that no real hipster admits he/she is a hipster). I'm too smiley! And I probably try a little too hard to please everyone to be a real hipster scoffing at everyone else's inferiority. But then, why oh why is my taxonomy constantly under the "hipster" order? And what's with the negative connotation surrounding hipsters? Is it a bad thing, and a sign that I should change my ways?

Of course, this blog isn't supposed to be about me and whether or not I am a hipster. I talk about myself enough as is. I've wanted to figure out how I should feel when someone calls me or anyone else a hipster. Flattered? Offended? Sexy? After thinking a lot of these things over and dissecting what it means to be a hipster (as well as dissecting actual hipsters), I've come up with a radical new idea that doesn't sound so radical at first glance: Everyone at Oberlin is a little bit of a hipster.

Okay! Before I get misquoted into saying that everyone at Oberlin wears flannel shirts and tight jeans and listens to Animal Collective and spells "your" as "yr," I should elaborate by asking this: What are some common stereotypes of hipsters?

Aside from the physical characteristics and fashion tendencies of hipsters, hipsters are often noted for being apathetic towards normal social conventions. But at the same time, most hipsters are also passionate about one or two or several things that are out of the Average Joe's radar. Whether it's something that your "typical hipster" is obsessed with, such as independent rock and art or beards, or something else like juggling or printmaking.

And if I can say this without getting flamed for any ignorance, I think that Oberlin students have both a wide array of hobbies and passions, as well as a strong, sometimes unhealthy amount of interest in whatever these passions are. Like my inordinate love for silkscreening, design, and Spoon. Or the lovely OCircus! folks and their respective talents in juggling, acrobatics, poi, hula-hooping, and yo-yoing. Or all those ExCo instructors and the languages, tutorials, and courses on such specific, odd material that they are itching to teach to the rest of Oberlin! I hope I'm making at least a bit of sense. Almost everyone at Oberlin has their own quirky interest that consumes them. And if it's not quirky, then at least it can pass off as ironic, right? Right?!

Fine, maybe I'm stretching it a bit too much. I guess the other thing I'm trying to get at is this: No one really likes being classified as anything, whether you're a jock or a cheerleader or a band geek or a hipster.

Blech. Did I really just say that? This post just got way too righteous. Time for some car chases and food porn!

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