Hipsters were once people with authentic alternate taste. They found refuge in underrated music, op-shop clothing and underground slang. They were not motivated by hate for the mainstream but rather, they were inspired by difference. This is no longer the case. Hipsters have ultimately become a collective rebellion. They like what most people don’t like, purely for the purpose of not being like ‘most people’. Ironically, this dissatisfaction with the mainstream has become mainstream in itself and therefore, these ‘hipsters’ are nothing but reflections of their enemy. If you want to learn more about how hipsters became mainstream, read this Vice article by Drew Millard.
I could appreciate the humour in all of this, if it didn’t frustrate me so much. Why are people so inclined to degrade the mainstream? Do they not realise that the mainstream is an expression of our society? As Browne defines it, it is “the system of attitudes, behaviour patterns, beliefs, customs, and tastes that define the people of any society.” (Ray Broadus Browne in ‘Profiles of Popular Culture: A Reader’, 2005) In this sense, it is rather fascinating don’t you think? What is considered mainstream now, was not considered mainstream 10 years ago and it won’t be 10 years into the future. The human race is ever-changing and the mainstream is a site in which to explore that.
All that being said, I understand the desire to differentiate yourself. There is nothing wrong with wanting to set yourself apart from your peers… there is nothing wrong with wanting to delve into self-expression. I do so through tattoos, stitching my own words together, fashion, watching cult films and whatever else. However, in expressing myself, I do not render any other parts of culture as inferior. I simply enjoy what I enjoy and let others enjoy what they enjoy.
From time to time, I will submerge myself in the mainstream; whether it be a new Netflix show, a Harry Style’s song or the word ‘lit’. However, I have never been ashamed to admit that I like these ‘common’ things because I am open-minded enough to appreciate that some of what we consider mainstream, is actually some quality stuff. For instance, the Netflix show ’13 Reasons Why’, which has become the most tweeted about Netflix show during the first week of release, is a fucking masterpiece. It’s honest depiction of suicide has earned it a 9.1/10 rating on IMDb and it continues to break records.
My point is, the mainstream isn’t as soul-sucking as many people make it out to be. People just hate on it because it represents the ‘many’ and as we have established, people don’t like to be part of the ‘many’. If you are one of those people, I have something to say to you; You can still enjoy fragments of the mainstream and not become mainstream yourself. I’m proof of that… I think Harry Styles is fucking dope but I also blog about my feelings. Therefore, I’m able to enjoy what’s popular but still be an individual. We are all capable of that. So please, for the love of Harry Styles, stop hating on the mainstream.