Dan Harmon, the creator of the hit sitcom Community, hilariously and most aptly made fun of the most recent subculture to emerge recently. This would upset any ironic-tee-shirt-wearing, vintage-camera-owning youth, but it’s time for a wake up call to these quacks.
Now, before you get too defensive, let me clear the air by saying that not all lads who swing their Holgas around should be admonished. I’m specifically talking about Singaporeans who try to be unique for the sake of being different and getting attention. There are many more of such public platform-seeking people around than we think we know, and if you reflect further, you could be one of them too.
I castigate this movement so strongly because it isn’t just a superficial problem, but an issue of one’s attitude and ego. Just because you like Fleet Foxes more than Coldplay (the writer is a fan of both) does not make you any cooler or superior to others. Instead, if you consciously told yourself to dislike Viva La Vida, you are the worst insult any youth can get – a poseur.
Anyway, it’s a losing battle to the mainstream. Being a hipster is being part of a subculture, already a sign that it a group movement, rather than what these hipsters think it is made up of – the lone individual. While taitais shop at Gucci and have tea at 4pm, hipsters in Singapore wear impractical pullovers and upload all sorts of irrelevant, filtered photos on Instagram. Since the word ‘hipster’ developed from the ‘60s hippie movement, if you honestly think you emulate a bohemian, you couldn’t care less about what people thought about you. You wouldn’t need to be a slave to fashion, nor seek attention and appraisal from your 200 followers.
A real hipster wouldn’t do that. A real hipster would wear what he wore the previous night to sleep to Orchard Road the next day. He would take photos in black and white because it makes artistic sense, not because he thinks it looks vintage. He would fight for women’s rights, because he knows it will make the world and our island a better place, not because every liberal-minded American is doing that.
Unfortunately for these masters of mimicry, this entire subculture is still ironically controlled by the mainstream. As hipsters continuously try to deviate away from the norm and profess themselves as weirdos (they don’t truly want to be known as that), the core idea behind each new trend they create is determined by what the current convention is. Often times too, these trends eventually become ubiquitous, and hipsters have to keep finding new things and activities to consume in order to redeem their individuality, succumbing to the inevitable movement of the world.
So the next time you criticize Starbucks, think again. Is it because you are against the capitalism that Starbucks embodies, that you genuinely dislike the coffee, or simply because every Tom, Dick and Harry drinks Starbucks? Be mindful and grow up, oh you iPhone-and-Mac patron.