Oh, the hipster. Who are you? What are you? Sure, there are not ever real answers to these kinds of questions, but regardless, each year a few people publicly declare the hipster to be dead, or that we're going to at least stop talking about them so much, or that some particularly grave world event has ended irony altogether. This has yet to happen. Instead, a lot of publications whose time and efforts would be spent more productively (and less embarrassingly) elsewhere continue trying to pinpoint what exactly makes the hipster tick, or what hip new things the hipsters are... hipping.
2012 was not an exception. Whether it was the Times trying to wrap their heads around "man buns" or Forbes attempting to rank neighborhoods by hipsterdom, cringeworthy "what the youths are up to" coverage was everywhere. Let's reminisce.
The Times got the year off to a bang by investigating the proliferation of "the man bun," speaking to one painter-slash-yoga-teacher who explained that he'd "let a little hair poke out for an 'abstract expressionist' flourish."
Could France be embracing Brooklyn foodie culture by an increasing love of food trucks and use of the descriptor "très Brooklyn?" The Times says yes. The French largely denied it, but regardless, we were all given a terrible new phrase to mock. It comes out about even, basically.
The Wall Street Journal claims that, due to the astronomical rents in Williamsburg, young people are turning to the Upper East Side as a new hipster haven. One local explained, "These hipsters were moving in — you could tell they were hipsters because I used to be one too, so they stand out — and they were moving a mounted moose head into their apartment."
Chronicling nightlife in and around the Wythe hotel, the Times recalls: "Upstairs, a D.J. who resembled Jesus Christ played dub reggae, and when the sun crept below the jaw-dropping Manhattan skyline, it seemed to activate everyone’s internal Instagram clock. A sea of iPhones shot up to capture the blazing pink hues (#nofilter), as if the singer Grimes had just made a surprise appearance at a Skrillex concert." Oh, goodness. They also published accompanying directions to Williamsburg, in case that last bit convinced you to come visit.
Back in August, the Post insisted that even in Brooklyn, wine spritzers are happening. As of publication time, spritzers are still not happening.
Jumping into the "neighborhood ranking" game (a favorite of ours), Forbes boldly tried their hand at ranking the most "hipster" neighborhoods in America, with Williamsburg only landing in third place. The entire legitimacy of this was thrown into question by their inclusion of San Diego's decidedly un-hip North Park.
Elsewhere, one writer for L.A. Weekly ranked what he views as the "20 Worst Hipster Bands," a confusing collection of basically all major indie bands of the past decade or so, ranging from MGMT to the Arcade Fire. The blogosphere self-immolated over the incident, and the writer has since been put in charge of all music coverage for Village Voice media. Oh.
The Times reports that young, hip women, with their love of elaborate cooking and crafting, are an exploding demographic for Martha Stewart's homemaking empire. This actually makes perfect sense.
As must be done every few months or so in order to keep each of America's generational demographics in constant, smug conflict with one another, the New York Times published an op-ed by a Princeton professor pleading with young people to put an end to our destructive habit of "ironic living." It goes over poorly, and the cycle begins anew.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.