Is It Hip To Hate Hipsters?

Man, don’t you just hate hipsters?

I mean there they are, with their stupid fancy moustaches and silly fixed gear bicycles and weird beer and dodgy clothes and dreadful music and soy milk lattes. And the fads! Don’t get me started on the fads. If there’s any kind of trendy bandwagon going, they’ll be hopping on it. Be it veganism, organic food, Fairtrade coffee or gluten-free diets, it’s all just one big pose.

White Moose -
In its natural habitat.

At least, that’s the attitude of the White Moose Cafe in Dublin. They recently managed to get world-wide attention for a proclamation that they were no longer going to accept an order for gluten-free food unless it was accompanied by a doctor’s note certifying that the person in question suffers from coeliac disease. And while cynics may point to the fact that the cafe in question did very well out of pulling the same stunt with vegans last year, or that they might be keen to draw attention away from a recent gaffe turned publicity stunt turned PR nightmare, others have leaped to the cafe’s defence. After all, they argue, aren’t these faddish gluten-free diners trivialising the very real problem of coeliac disease?


Except I know somebody whose uncle has coeliac disease. And I don’t think he feels trivialised by the gluten-free “fad”. In fact, he’s just delighted that he’s able to go into a restaurant and order with having to have a twenty minute conversation with the waiter to find out what’s gone into his food. [1] And a good friend of mine, who has a severe dairy allergy, is delighted that soy milk has become “trendy” – it means she can do her weekly shop in the supermarket, instead of having to trek across town to the health store to get something to put in her coffee.

Dog dressed as a hipster -
Do you hate this dog?

And really, are any of these trendy things so bad? Craft beer is both delicious and better for small businesses than buying big company brews. In fact, “gluten-free” bread is often delicious too – bread made with almond flour is definitely a change from regular bread, and the first time I ate good cornbread I was hooked. You can’t argue against buying coffee that gets the person who grew it a decent wage (well, you can, but you’re wrong), and if you’re defining all music that you don’t personally like as empirically bad then you need to grow the heck up. As for veganism… Well, in my experience the people who rail the most against veganism are the people who don’t think they’d have the willpower to do it themselves and take it as a personal insult that other people do.

Hating hipsters has ironically become the hippest pose there is.

It’s that last one that really gets to the heart of the whole thing, I think. Hating hipsters has ironically become the hippest pose there is. The thing is, as most sociologists agree, there is no “hipster culture”. Hipster is just an insult, used for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes a hipster is someone who likes the things you like, but not in the way you like them (and so you hate them). Sometimes a hipster is someone who is cooler than you (the git), or someone who is less cool than you (the fool). But most of the time it’s used to mean somebody who’s “trying too hard”, exposing as a myth the idea that the cool are innately cool and that style cannot be imitated. There’s nothing Irish people hate more than a trier – someone who’s putting in the effort and making the rest of us look bad. But isn’t putting in the effort innately superior to sitting on your arse and taking the piss?

“Some say risk nothing, try only for the sure thing,
Others say nothing gambled nothing gained,
Go all out for your dream.
Life can be lived either way, but for me,
I’d rather try and fail, than never try at all, you see.”
William F O’Brien

(I still think riding fixed gear bikes in the 21st century when alternatives are available is dumb as hell though. Sorry.)

Images via wikimedia.

[1] A point that has been made to the WMC, but considering they’ve refused in the past to back down when called out for actual racism, you can imagine how that went.