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Thursday, March 31, 2011

In Which We Solemnly Vow to Never Use the Word "Hipster" Again

Posted By on Thu, Mar 31, 2011 at 2:44 PM

You see yourself in here somewhere, hipster. Via YesButNoButYes.
  • You see yourself in here somewhere, hipster. Via YesButNoButYes.
Chain-smoking. Chronic masturbation. Leaving the toilet seat up. There comes a time in life when we must all break our bad habits, readers, and today, that time has come for use of the word "hipster." Once a slur aimed at the alleged cultural vulturism of urban twentysomethings, today the term has morphed into a catch-all denigration for pretty much any non-AARP-member with a passing interest in music, art, or fashion, and an iPod. It has become meaningless -- not that it ever had much meaning in the first place.

And call us old-fashioned, but we still retain the belief that words -- especially those icky ones we use as social labels -- should mean something. "Punk" still means something. "Goth" still means something. "Mod" even means something. But what's a hipster? The eggheads have argued and they can't agree. Because practically everyone -- especially in San Francisco -- is a hipster, or at least bears some qualities that could potentially brand them a hipster. And yes, this is the part where you whine, "but I'm not a hipster!" and go back to listening to Animal Collective in your overpriced Valencia Street coffee shop, you fucking hipster.

But fear not, hipster-hating hipsters. We, at least, refuse to call you hipsters anymore. We're done with that word. The last straw, for us, was this week's nobody-cares-but-bloggers dustup over the music of The Weeknd, which some snide hipster who writes for the London Guardian accused other hipsters of favoring over what he perceives to be real R&B. Whatever you think of the particular merits of each style of music, the implication here is that what "indie-leaning" (read: hipster) listeners like isn't authentic -- because it appeals to "hipsters" in a way that more traditional current R&B doesn't -- and what they're ignoring is genuine R&B. Out of all of this nonsense came the hilarious term "PBR&B," an ensuing argument over this so-called "hipster R&B," and, for us, projectile vomit and general weariness. Can we not find a better word to describe this stuff? And does every argument about music have to devolve into the kind of "I'm-not-a-hipster-because-I-like-good-music-and-hipsters-like-fake-music" attitude that everyone claims to hate about hipsterism?

We'd like to think it doesn't. Personally, we like some of the same stuff that the alleged hipster music bible Pitchfork likes, and we dislike some of it. We like The Weeknd (hipster music!) and we like Taylor Swift (surely the last non-hipster twentysomething on earth!) But we do think that singling things out (other than adorable puppies) based on their "hipster" or "indie" appeal has become lazy and pointless. So, having regularly committed such offenses in the past, and even defended those labeled hipsters, we vow to rid this word from our vocabulary. Again, we like our words to actually mean something. And now, in an age it seems every person under 50 in this city (who doesn't live in the Marina) owns either an iPhone, a high-waisted skirt, a regularly used flannel-shirt, a album positively reviewed by Pitchfork, or some Ray Ban-style sunglasses, surely one word is not going to accurately describe them, much less their music. So free your mind, break at least one of your bad habits, and say it with us now: Fuck the word "hipster."

Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown, follow Ian S. Port @iPORT, and like us at

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  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"