Big, big difference between scenesters and hipsters

Publication YearIssue Date 

The year was 1941 and in Nazi Germany, a movement was started. They called themselves the "Swing Kids" and they followed British fashion trends and listened to American Big Band music. This teens-to-mid-20s culture grew out of its disapproval of the social norms. From this point on in history, for every culture, there has been a sub-culture known commonly as "anti-culture." In the '60s it was the hippies, the '80s urban rap, the '90s grunge and the 2000s hipsters.

The modern hipster is very much different from the anti-cultures of previous decades. This is because they cannot be defined by any typical "hipster standard." A modern hipster may listen to any assortment of music, except for Top 40. This means that the term "hipster" is all-encompassing. The same follows for fashion trends. The point of being a hipster is to avoid pop culture at all costs.

This is very different to what a scenester encompasses. A scenester exists solely for one reason: they need to be seen at local shows. They follow their own trends within their subculture and are prone to imitation instead of imagination. A hipster will wear whatever feels comfortable and whatever they like. A scenester, on the other hand, will wear whatever their favourite artist wore at the last show.

These two subcultures do not coexist peacefully. Hipsters would socially destroy anyone who would think to call them a scenester. This is because scenesters are a group of socially awkward, immature and uncomfortable wanna-be cool kids. Although a hipster refuses to acknowledge the fact that he or she is actually a hipster, a true hipster will not care about the label. Hipsters avoid the use of this term because of the negative connotations associated with it. Because society misuses the terms so often, these terms are commonly used interchangeably. They are not interchangeable.

Hipsters are a valuable subculture redefining and stretching the boundaries of the social norm. Scenesters are a mindless cloning tool used by companies like American Apparel to increase quarterly sales figures.

The terms are only interchangeable to those who do not understand what they mean.





The above article is over a year old and you may have read it but I think it's an accurate depiction of how many hipsters are seen by outsiders. If you've read it, you can see why many people would have trouble distinguishing between hipsters and scenesters and I'm still not clear on what distinguishes the two.

If the point of being a hipster is to avoid pop culture at all costs, does that mean they can't watch Where the Wild Things Are or The Wire? They can't like Jay Z or Britney Spears' "Toxic" or any Kylie Minogue? Are they not allowed to like The Beatles? Can they play video games that Sony puts out? Are they allowed to cheer for the Flames? Are they allowed to dress up at Halloween? What if they bought a hoodie at American Apparel because it was fairly cheap and well made, do they automatically move over to scenesterism? Or can they still be part of the anti-culture?

Or, maybe, "hipster" and "scenester" are a pair of largely irrelevant terms that people use to feel good about themselves and write off the mindless "sheeple" that constitutes everyone who likes something they don't. Neither term really means anything ó†neither one's a badge of pride, neither one's an insult. Getting offended about being called one or the other is just silly.

Next rime you consider writing a stereotyping ramble, save your energy. This article was rediculous, and brutally humiliating for the writer.
Imagine I wrote an article about people whom enjoy online gaming. Imagine I seperated these people into two categories, "geeks" and "nerds" and associate personality traits with each group. Now I'd make the irrational assumtion that ALL gamers fall into the two categories I've given them, simply because of their shared interest. I'd write, "geeks are gamers who don't use Microsoft products, they play for points and gamer status. Nerds are gamers whom play for the joy of playing, they are passionate about their hobby and should not be confused with geeks."
Gamers are gamers because they enjoy gaming, and the fact that I can give them titles and personality traits assoiated with those titles doesnt make my rants valid.
Save this sort of nonsense for your personal blog, or your diary. Spare us.

I am SO frustrated right now.
Just because the writer of this article finds comfort in identifying herself a "hipster" and subscribing herself to this title and it's attributes, does not in any way mean that anyone else associted with the subculture would be so quick to introduce themselves as "John, the hipster" or "Mary, the hipster."
And so the writer doesn't listen to top 40, does that mean that all persons associated with what you call the "hipster" subculture must meet this same requirement? We can't join your club unless we stop listening to our favorite beyonce track?
I enjoy jogging and lifting weights and martial arts, would I call myself a "jock"? No. Would I say that in order to be a true "jock" you have to wear certain brands, anytging but nike?
As a matter of fact, I enjoy the same "anti-culture" underground music scene that you have written about, so what' do I call myself, a "jockster"? A "hipthlete"?
I'm Danny, I'm a hipthlete, don't confuse me with scenthletes, we enjoy the same things but my group is more elite and passionate about our interests.
I guess I've just never understood the "exclusive club" mentality. I just don't feel like I have to belong to a title or association in order to live out my interests in music, or fashion, sports, video games or whatever.
I want to keep ranting, I could go on forever about the foolishness of this article but I've wasted enough time with frustration for the day.

I had no idea that by simply commenting on a cultural phenomenon I would encourage so much discussion. I am a dude, not a dudette. This article is not over a year old. I specifically remember writing it last week.

Now to address the more insightful comments.

There is a difference between pop culture and popular culture. I should have clarified the two. Popular culture includes all things in the realm of culture as a whole, pop-culture on the other hand is a division within popular culture that has a a contemporary popularity. These could be looked at as trends.

Hipsterism, as I pointed out, is an all-encompassing term to describe a lifestyle. Scenesterism has more of the qualities that a trend has. Hipsterism will never die, because there have always been a group of twenty-somethings rebelling against social norms. As I had pointed out in my article, hipsterism can be dated back to World War Two.

My article is actually just a refutation to Roy Cotton-O'Brien from the last week.

Thank you, and goodnight.

With the exception of The Wire, though, everything I mentioned meets your definition of both popular and pop culture. Defining yourself as strictly opposed to things that are popular is just as senseless as only enjoying things that are popular ó sure, it gives you an easy shorthand for your self-identity, but it also means you're willfully ignoring a huge part of culture on grounds that have nothing to do with its quality or your enjoyment of it.
And I still think that a lot of people have a habit of assuming that other people are less sincere than they are -- hence writing off people as "scenesters." I'm not basing this on anything other than personal experience, but I've never met someone who's so devoted to maintaining some kind of cool-cred that they'll devote all of their time, effort and money to pretending they like something that they actually can't stand. And if their enjoyment is sincere, it really shouldn't matter what else they like or what stores they shop at.
Lastly, I know the term hipster goes back at least as far as the beats, but I'm not sure how much those burning, angel-headed hipsters of old have in common with the current breed. Other than a connection through Neil Cassady, the hippies didn't have much in common with the beats, and neither shared much with the punks... And even if their is a throughline, the fact that each era had a fairly codified taste in music, fashion, politics, etc, is pretty solid proof that hipsters aren't immune to fashion trends.
I guess I'll have to read Roy's piece, then.

I'm feeling conversational, so let's keep this going.

First, Confused was pointing you towards another article that was written over a year ago ó they weren't attacking your integrity.

As for the pop/popular culture divide, most of the things I brought up meet both your definitions. But just because something emerges from a trend doesn't mean it has no merit, and writing off something just because it's popular is as baseless as enjoying it just because it's unpopular. Either way, you're willfully ignoring a huge chunk of culture on grounds that have nothing to do with its quality or your enjoyment of it.

I just read Roy's article, and it seems like your main disagreement is that he got the terms hipster and scenester reversed. Otherwise, you're both saying the same thing -- one of the two groups is authentic, the other is composed of trend-jumpers.

As you both point out, both terms have been around for a long while, and the idea of a counter-culture extends way past WWII (look at the flapper girls of the '20s, or the aesthetes of the Victorian era), but there's no hard and fast definition for either. Even if you think you can draw a through-line between all those eras, given the huge differences between the counterculture in each era in terms of music, fashion, politics, etc, it'd be hard to argue that they (both hip- and scenesters, whichever is which) aren't heavily influenced by trends.

But if you're using the terms to distinguish who's authentic and who isn't (which seems to be both of your points), I'm still going to insist that those divisions usually boil down to one person's view of someone else's sincerity. And personally, I've never met anyone who was so devoted to cultivating some kind of cool-cred that they would devote all their time, energy and money to something that they hate -- odds are that both scenesters and hipsters enjoy the music and fashion they choose. Which is all that should matter, really.

Stretching the social norm?

I gave two pairs of these kind of couples a ride in my inexpensive, and economical to run, rust bucket of a car.

They found it unique and quirky enough to give it their approval.

What troubles me though is that when they started talking about how it would be cool to have such a vehicle and just have it as a middle finger to the dick measuring nature of car ownership, I seriously felt like my mode of transport was - in weird sort of stretched definition - becoming gentrified.

I love my car only because it's a necessity. That it's a bit weird, cheap and unique are just bonuses - though honestly I could do without them in exchange for reliability and comfort. Nothing more. Please don't turn it into another fashion/lifestyle statement the way you did to the bikes I used to build myself and the apartments I used to call cheap housing.

Nomenclature guy,

I clearly stated that Hipsters are "very much different from the anti-cultures of previous decades." I agree that there isn't a throughline. That is why I said what I did. The reason I wrote this article was because I know people like this. From my own personal experience with scenesters all that they really do care about is being seen. Hipsters have some of these same qualities, but for most hipsters they truly enjoy the subculture they are apart of. The term Hipster has had it's name dragged through the dirt only because of the "hipsters" that try to love hipsterism. Kind of like what Autoeconomia was saying with his car. I build bikes because it is fun, cheap, and and I can make money doing it. People who trend jump are characteristically much like scenesters in their attitudes. And I concede that some hipsters do this too. But they are nothing more than pre-madonnas.

It's funny that the article starts off with a comment about Nazi Germany, as this is the worst thing written since Mein Kampf.

Naw, screw you. I wasn't trying to goddamn show solidarity, I was trying to critique.

Once you've labeled yourself as something because of the set of things you do, then that means you are aware that everything you do, you appropriate only in support of living up to that label. And
as a self professed hipster you've done that to the clothing, the bike, the apartments, and the 'stache. You've gentrified dwellings because it's cool. You've jacked up used clothing because it's hip. You've upped the demand for fixie parts. And you've stolen the stache from rapists and pedos

Pretty soon, from what I have experienced, it's not much of a stretch you'd move on next to beater cars. Fuck you and what you represent.