A Blipster, A Hipster, A Buppie, A Yuppie and A Bobo Walk Into A Bar…


The Blipsters: Black hipsters. The blipster.info website.

The piece by Dayo Olopade at The Root:

So just what is a black hipster—a “blipster” or “alt-black”? Like many recent cultural trends, this one straddles race, politics, fashion and art. For the purposes of discussion, we’ll stick with men (though I have seen some Flock of Seagulls-looking black females out and about of late). As Lauren Cooper, a Howard University graduate who admits to an indie lifestyle, puts it, “It’s probably easier to pick out a black male ‘blipster’ than a female.”

Simply put: The racial archetypes that had defined the last 15 years of masculine street style have given way to a radically new aesthetic. Gone are the extra-long T-shirts, saggy jeans and Timbs long favored by young black men. They haven’t swapped them for the mopey, emo tees once favored by young whites. Rather, urban youth of all colors now rock snug pants, bright, oversized graphic tees, spotless vanity sneakers and hats with brims flatter than Kansas.

And a skateboard, too, if you can hack it. More than anything, these black hipsters are the “Kick, Push” generation. Just as “swagga” has gone mainstream, the racially ambiguous fashion statements of Lupe Fiasco, Pharrell Williams of N.E.R.D. or black skateboarder Steve Williams have become a prominent urban aesthetic, from mallrats in San Diego to grown men in Chicago.

Her conversation with Reihan Salam on the subject at Bloggingheads.

Bold As Love on the Olopade piece:

Problem is that the writer misses the larger point by overemphasizing fashion in his analysis.  Moreover, while he references “indie music”, many of his prominent music examples tend to be hip hop ones (hipster rap, courtesy of Lupe Fiasco and Kanye), so it feels like the implication is that skaters and rappers got together and spawned this trend.  Maybe that’s true.  From a certain perspective.  But you and I know that there was a lot of rock influencing this trend.

Le Chic Batik:

I like that in response to the article someone comments  about pointing out the irony of black kids dressing like white kids, who are in turn dressing like Black and Latino kids from the ’80s. This article lumps together all Black people who do unusual things and calls them “Blipsters”, which is unfortunate, especially since “blipster” sounds like a foot callous.

Chris Bodenner at Andrew Sullivan links to her and to the Root slideshow.

The New York Times article from 2007 on the Blipster phenom.

At Gawker, The Assimilated Negro on the NYT piece:

While illuminating the general populace to the fact that some of us with melanin actually cop to enjoying Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is a noble cause worthy of a national holiday, we think the piece is not diligent enough in playing devil’s advocate with these stereotype-busters.

[…]Of course, I go out in bummy clothes and dirty sneakers all the time, and I’d say the subtext to that revolutionary decision is more economical; I’m broke. So I’d tell Nelson George, and the Times, it’s not just the Buppies, Baps, and Boho’s, don’t forget the Blomedians, Blancers, Blunk-rockers, Bloths, Blezebels, Blultural Blapists, and um, Bloggers. We may all be walking around with dirty shredded jeans, but that doesn’t necessarily make it cool. Blool maybe, but not cool. Not at blall.

The “Blipster” conversation also lead into a conversation concerning:


Carl Wilson, reacting to a column by Russell Smith on hipsters:

I’m not particularly concerned to defend the hipster, in the sense of the class fragment vaguely gestured at there. But for any anti-hipster screed to qualify as anything but a full-on strawman-torching session providing a smokescreen for a riot of unprocessed anxieties, I’d like to find a writer able to identify, say, three so-called hipsters by name and provide some minimal grounding of generalizations in fact. Even anecdotally. If you actually ask almost anyone five or six questions, I bet they’d soon complicate the stereotype beyond recognition. (As Margaux Williamson’s Teenager Hamlet film in many ways shows.) There are no hipsters, only anti-hipsters – or at least the ratio is approximately the same as that of actually existing Satanists to anti-Satanists during the heavy-metal and Goth panics of the 1980s and 1990s. The question is what in turn the hipster allows the anti-hipster to deny, and what’s being lost in that continuing deferral.

Richard Florida links to Chris on the blipsters and to Wilson and says:

There was a time when this kind of self-expression signified something more than fashion. Today, hipsterism has become just one of several archetypal uniforms – pin-striped banker, polo-wearing preppie, khaki-clad techie, and the like.

Brian Frank:

Richard Florida points to a familiar article about “blipsters” — “black hipsters.” Which is funny, now that I think of it, because the original hipsters were known as [correction: I meant, later known as] “white negroes”:

Later periods of hip convergence include the 1910’s and 20’s, when the radical bohemians of Greenwich Village and the renaissancers of Harlem fed off each other’s energy, and the midcentury heyday of Beat and bebop, two outsider movements that set the stage for the huge (albeit unhip) counterculture juggernaut of the 1960’s. (Norman Mailer’s famous essay from the height of Beat-bebop convergence, ”The White Negro: Superficial Reflections on the Hipster,” was essentially a sketch for ”Hip: The History,” and is duly mentioned in the introduction.) [David Kamp, NY Times: 2004]

At Sully’s, Florida again.

The Assimilated Negro with more thoughts:

Hipsters are all about post-modern, post-ironic. They are acutely self-reflexive and self-conscious. They are a byproduct of the information generation. There is no longer any external advantage to be gained if we all have access to the same information/power. So the end result is to look internal. To go meta. This sensibility, more than anything else, may be the distinguishing characteristic for a hipster. It is the essence of the “cool” that fuels the hipster locomotive. And this coolness translates to music, fashion, and partying in many ways, as demonstrated by Byron’s great hipster-bingo chart.

(As a related thought, but one too involved to explore in this post, I also see hipsters representing a break from the Christian morality of previous generations, to a more Nietzschean worldview. The hipster sensibility springs from a “will to power” value system, as opposed to a judeo-christian (generally speaking) value system. Hipsters like niche. They like “individual”, which is essentially the ultimate niche. This is notwithstanding the fact that “counter-culture” always eventually morphs into “culture” thereby undermining its own agenda. So they turn away from the external crutch of religion and look to themselves. Sort of an ironic self-help generation.)

I know I missed posts on this topic, will update if I find more.

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Filed under Fashion, Go Meta, Music, Race

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