The end of the hipster: how flat caps and beards stopped being so cool | Fashion | The Observer
I’ve commented before on how the meaning of words like hipster and cool have changed, and here’s an article that makes a similar point.
At some point in the last few years, the hipster changed. Or at least its definition did. What was once an umbrella term for a counter-culture tribe of young creative types in mostly New York’s Williamsburg and London’s Hackney morphed into a pejorative term for people who looked, lived and acted a certain way. The Urban Dictionary defines hipsters as “a subculture of men and women, typically in their 20s and 30s, that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics”. In reality, the word is now tantamount to an insult. via The end of the hipster: how flat caps and beards stopped being so cool | Fashion | The Observer.
What is rather surprising is that it’s on the fashion pages. And the original meaning of “cool”, which to many people now means something like “fashionable” originally, in the metaphorical non-temperature sense, meant something like the opposite. To be cool meant to be detached and unmoved by the vagaries of fashion. It meant to “do your own thing” regardless of what the fashion pundits said. To be cool meant neither to follow fashion, nor to revolt against it by being deliberately unfashionable. It meant to be unmoved by it.
The article makes the distinction between what used to be called “hippies” and “plastic hippies”, and the popular conception of a “hipster” today seems to be based on the old idea of the plastic hippie, someone who is making a fashion statement. But things nowadays have got so confused that you can’t tell who is satirising whom. Try this, for example: Rightbloggers Go Peacenik on Syria; Prefer War with Iran, Obama | Village Voice: “Here’s a lovely historical irony: A Democratic president has proposed limited military action in the Middle East, and conservative Republicans are aligning with anti-war Democrats, Occupy Wall Street, The Nation, MoveOn, and Code Pink to stop him.”
It’s true, too. As my blogging friend Terry Cowan has noted, some of the best comments on American militarism and imperialism are coming from The American Conservative. Who would have thought of American conservatives as hippie peaceniks? The times they are a-changin’!