Someone set the "days since The New York Times ran a piece about hipsters" board back to zero. The Paper of Record offers an assessment of its favorite subject in the Sunday Review, and effectively declares the idea of hipsters to be dead. Or at least very hard to define.
The Times' infatuation with hipsters is long and well-documented. Every few months, the paper checks in with the flannel-clad denizens of the outer boroughs to make sure they're well fed and attended to. The last time a hipster-related Times story caused a stink was in May when the paper went on a tour through "Will.I.Amsburg," and proceeded to get the details wrong. We laughed at the hipsters, we laughed at the Times, and the Times laughed at itself.
But in Sunday's paper, in an opinion piece called "Caught in the Hipster Trap," the Times' Steven Kurutz realizes that hipsters are a difficult animal to identify these days, and it's becoming a bit of a problem. "As a 30-something skinnyish urban male there’s almost nothing I can wear that won’t make me look like a hipster," he writes. "Such is the pervasiveness of hipster culture that virtually every aspect of male fashion and grooming has been colonized."
That "hipster" has become a catch-all term for "young people doing things" is not a ground breaking idea. Kurutz argues that hipsters come in so many different shapes, sizes and outfits these days that it's almost impossible to wear anything without being labeled as a hipster. From the top of your head to your toes -- from hats, to T-shirts, to shoes -- everything has been co-opted by some semi-identifiable type of hipster. Hobbies and technology (new and old) have also been taken, leaving next to nothing for the rest of the world. "Has there ever been a subculture this broadly defined?" he asks. Everyone is a hipster, unless you're a stodgy old person, or a parent, and even then you never know. Kurutz realizes there's almost nothing left that hasn't been hipster-fied:
The only way to safely avoid looking like a hipster, so far as I can tell, is to dress in oversize mesh jerseys bearing the logos of sports teams. Or to wear the blandest, baggiest, beige-est clothes possible, like a middle-aged tourist. Oh, wait. My girlfriend read a draft of this story and told me mesh jerseys “are kind of hipster now.” The Rick Steves look is next.
In the end, Kurutz doesn't really kill the hipster, or the Times obsession with it. Surely it will continue on, fruitfully, until nuclear winter has wiped out the human race and only The New York Times and some cockroaches are left. But he accepts that, no matter what he does, just by being he'll be called a hipster. He is a young person, after all, who does things. The hipster is a vague, identifiable, morphing idea that is both nothing and everything all at once. "If it looks like a hipster, walks like a hipster and quacks like a hipster," Kurutz writes.
He also claims to know of some fashions that currently won't prompt someone to call you a hipster, though we're not entirely sure we believe him.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.