If one wears non-prescription glasses, one is labeled a hipster.
Same for those with suggestive mustaches and those who ooze irony out of their pores.
A term both stereotyped and derided for faux authenticity, hipsters have raised the ire of critics while simultaneously being lauded by others as the new counterculture.
But how exactly, does one define the word hipster?
Tonight, the Campus Events Commission will dig deeper into the subject of the phenomenon known as the hipster in an in-depth discussion panel called “Look at this F*cking Panel: A Sociological Investigation of Hipster Culture.”
The panel will feature an all-star line up of those in the hipster-know, including Gavin McInnes, founder of hipster publication Vice Magazine and the website Street Boners and TV Carnage, and party photographer Mark “The Cobra Snake” Hunter.
Senior editor of the New York Observer, Christian Lorentzen, will be moderating the discussion.
Co-editor of n 1 magazine Mark Greif recently compiled the book “What was the Hipster? A Sociological Investigation,” which features articles from many of the panelists.
“One of the key definitions is that the term hipster became just as a kind of pejorative, another classic insult of the subculture, like a poseur or faker. These are just things where all you’re doing is expressing somebody’s authenticity but on the basis that you are the authentic one,” Greif said.
This aversion to the mainstream has spawned a host of blogs devoted to the more absurd antics of the hipster.
Andrea Bartz and Brenna Ehrlich, the creators of the blog “Stuff Hipsters Hate” and the book of the same name, will be speaking at the panel and said they started their blog after noticing how much hipsters hated everything, including being called a hipster.
“The whole point of being a hipster is standing out and not looking like everyone else, and that’s why they wear such ridiculous things and are so easy to make fun of,” Bartz said.
“They hate that label even though deep down they’re aware that they are a hipster.”
The Internet has also contributed to the hipster mockery.
“Hipsters have just become an Internet meme. And they’ve become a really long-lasting Internet meme because they’ve become endless fodder,” Ehrlich said.
Other speakers on the panel don’t find the hipster quite so easy to pinpoint.
One such speaker is Tao Lin, author of the book “Shoplifting from American Apparel,” whose apathetic literary tone and persona has become a sort of handbook for the youth subculture.
“I don’t know what hipster subculture even is or who’s in it. I think it’s become a sociological phenomenon just because I think, probably like in any year, there is some group of people who people think are hipsters,” Lin said.
History professor Mary Corey is another panelist who said the hipster cannot be defined by appearance alone, and said the roots of the hipster can be tied to the beat generation of the 1950s, the hippies in the 1960s and the era of punk in the 1970s.
“The hipster is linked to bohemia; it’s linked to counter culture; it’s linked to outsiderism. As we’ve changed culturally and as communication changed, being a hipster or carving out a hipster niche has become more and more challenging,” Corey said.
“Hipsterism is not fashion. It’s not posing. It’s something genuine. It has to do with a stance in relationship to the larger society which finds its own way.”
The panelists will also feature humor blogger Alexi Wasser of the website “I’m Boy Crazy,” and Christopher Glazek, writer for the New Yorker who also contributed to “What was the Hipster? A Sociological Investigation.”
Topics of the discussion will include the many definitions and trends of the hipster, hipsters on the internet and consumerism.
Fourth-year geography student Ali Day, who will be attending the panel, said that she sees the hipster as a misinterpreted subculture and that she looks forward to the hipster discourse.
“I feel like it’s very hard to define subculture and maybe it’s even misunderstood. I feel like it has this reputation being full of apathetic pretentious jerks,” Day said.
“I also think a lot of hipsters are socially conscious and actually have alternative political or social ideals, and I wish they got more visibility, but we hear more about the jerks.”