Simon Says: I’m a Hipster?

Dang. I think Simon just referred to my blog as “hipster chatter.” Them’s fightin words, Reynolds.

I mean, I’m sayin, I only own one belt and maybe 3 pairs of sneakers, tops.

For serious tho, I’m very curious to know what constitutes hipsterism — for Simon and for others — at this moment in time. What makes a hipster a hipster? What value does the term retain if we begin playing fast and loose with it, if we begin labeling a rather wide variety of practices and perspectves as hipster-ish?

It’s clear that the value of hipster today is one of racial/class critique — that is, we usually use it to describe a certain kind of privileged (i.e., white) fascination with / appropriation of black culture. (Of course, how that applies to “chatter” about jumpstyle — which is about as far from “blackness” as we can get — is another question.) The term hipster has become, almost exclusively I think, a pejorative. (Are there any self-identified hipsters out there? I don’t think so.) And the meanings of hip and hipster have clearly changed quite a bit over the past 50 years, as Joe Twist pointed out a little while ago (see also).

I wonder about these questions not just for navel-gaze-ish, anxious reasons, but for intellectual and activist reasons too. I wonder about both what is problematic and what might be productive / progressive about hipster engagement, hipster practice, hipster ideologies. Indeed, this is something I’m really trying to wrap my head around at the moment, for I’m working on a paper that deals with what I’m calling “Global Ghettotech and the Postcolonial Hipster” — basically, trying to make sense, with some self-reflection no doubt, of the circulation of nu-whirled music in the blogosphere and beyond.

Toward that end, I would be grateful to any readers who care to add their two cents to the discussion. Allow me to pose a few possibly provocative questions:

1) Do you think I’m a hipster?

2) Do you think you’re a hipster?

3) Do you think Simon Reynolds is a hipster?

4) What is a hipster — and is hipsterism an unmitigatedly bad thing?

Curious to hear what people think, and the reasons why —