Wednesday, 17 July 2013

treasure: the young people, or, musings on what a hipster might be & wondering if I am one

I'm writing my first essay for my Advertising unit on Gen Y (and possibly more specifially, hipsters; that's if I can manage to find an academic text to reference... hipsters are too cool to have academics reduce them to their signifying parts I guess) and advertising, and it's got me thinking about the kids these days.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Gen Y are those born between 1983 and 2000. So the last of the generation with whom I am grouped is turning 13 this year. It's hard to know how to separate this out, given that I am turning 28 this year and unfortunately am not quite sure what I might talk to a 13 year old about. I'd have a red-hot crack though; I seem to be able to converse with my step-sister Holly, although I do suspect I'm only just skating by on cool points by being an older female person who she doesn't live with. Not that it's all about cool points, but you know, I like them to accrue when at all possible.

Teenagers are a law unto themselves in any case. The section of the population that I rest slightly uneasy with is the people in their early twenties, filled with idealism and a very overt sense of self (to mask the crippling doubt, I know this from experience), all wearing skinny leg jeans and having heard of bands I will not hear of for another 2 or 3 years, and who seem to be able to pull off wearing hats in a way I only dream of. Yes, I know exactly how this makes me sound:

It might be because I don't look good in skinny jeans. It might be because trying to keep up with trends and the whatnot is too anxiety-inducing for me to make a commitment to it. I'm somewhat on board; I have many devices (it sounds suspect when I just come out and say it), I have like, some really cool apps on my iPad and iPhone, I use the Facebook, I instagram pictures of my dinner/drinks/self/social events often. I like all the technological treats available to me in 2013, and treat them with the appropriate amount of respect and panic. 

I made this with at least 3 different iPhone photo apps. I have the skills!

The thing is, I'm not sure a hipster is so easily defined, especially in our little town where trends from the big city get a bit bastardised on their way to our wardrobes. It's probably not accurate to say that all people wearing skinny jeans are hipsters; it's probably not fair to put folk in a category (or 'subculture', a term I shall bandy about in this darned essay) based on the fact they're just a little more up to date with music than me.

I have two friends called Ellie and they have both offered up (unknowingly, but very helpfully) their own definitions: Ellie S refers to the general population of Melbourne as 'mods', which I love, and Ellie P admits feeling a certain disdain for those who have good accessories. These seem a little vague, but really, I suspect that's how the hipsters sneak by us; their undefinable qualities. It's fair to admit that I'm jealous of their accessories, and this includes boots and hats. It's fair to say that I feel left behind in a way that is too difficult to put the effort in to 'catch up', whatever that might mean. Sometimes I wear accessories, but mostly I forget about them because I'm busy. Accessories are a weekend thing, when I have the time.

I've realised I've grown out of wondering if I'm right, of liberally believing that everyone's opinions are equally valid (because I'm sorry, but they're not), of caring what people think besides myself (after all, it's my opinions I have to live with, and me I have to impress). And maybe that's why I'm never going to quite be a hipster, no matter how hard I try. Maybe it's only a very small part of me left over from those early, heady years of faux certainty as a young adult, a very small part that wishes I'd heard of a band before everyone else liked them.

Anyhow, the real point is, writing this essay is going to be tricky. I wonder, what do you guys think makes a hipster? Can people older than 30 (Gen X and beyond) be hipsters? Is it an attitude, or is it accessory choices?

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