Hipsters can be annoying, sometimes exceedingly so. As someone who has lived in one of Yelp's demarcated hot zones (Toronto's Beaconsfield Village) for 15 years, I have borne witness to the invasion of sockless bearded guys in black specs and skinny jeans, their vintage-wearing girlfriends with the studiously dishevelled haircuts, the Pabst-fuelled bar conversations about raising chickens, the latest Daft Punk album and the healing powers of kombucha. None of these things is inherently irritating, but the cocksure non-conformist posturing with which they're brought together (if you can call what a whole identifiable group of like-minded people are doing non-conformity) sure is.
"I think what people hate is the vanity," agrees Stuart Berman, music reviewer for Pitchfork and the author of This Book Is Broken, a volume about the Toronto indie-rock band (and hipster deities) Broken Social Scene. "It's not so much that hipsters are on the lookout for new things and new experiences [that's irksome]," he says. "It's the fact that they're celebrating themselves for doing so."
From the TV show Portlandia to American artist Jeff Greenspan's practice of leaving (non-functioning) bear traps baited with hipster catnip - a Holga camera, neon Ray-Ban Wayfarers, a fixed-gear bike chain - along New York streets, hipsterism has fuelled some clever critical art, high and low. The backlash against them, however, is getting decidedly meaner, moving beyond gentle satire to something more disturbing.
In Berlin, "hipsterdriven gentrification" is being blamed, according to a recent Vice article, for a proposal to build new luxury apartments where a section of the former Wall stood; the building, enraged locals behind the slogan "no tourists, no hipsters, no yuppies" argue, will supplant squatters with artsy cafés and nice flats (as if that's a bad thing). Encyclopedia Dramatica , meanwhile, calls hipsters "narcissistic douchebags ... who frequently carry an STD and rarely shower." The irreverent online reference site also refers to them as "faggots," presumably because the hipster uniform is sometimes androgynous.
"I don't understand this hating on hipsters," says Lauren Baker, owner of the online boutique LAB Consignment. Before moving it to the Web, Baker ran her bricks-and-mortar shop not far from Toronto's Dundas Street West, a once-bland strip that has been given new vitality by you-know-which-group. "What's funny to me is that the mainstream and the masses end up liking [what they initially make fun of] down the road, once it has been accepted by all of their peers."