I somewhat baulked when asked to write a ‘how-to-spot’ story on youth subcultures; for fear of two things: hypocrisy and lynch mobs. My over-imaginative (and evidently, rather stereotypical) mind conjured up distinctively-uniformed armies, pounding at my door and baying for my blood.
Flannied Bogans would throw empty Bundy cans at my house accompanied by Bliss n Eso blasting from their Commodores. Hipsters would hurl metaphorical Pitchforks from their fixies. Denim-shorted Biddies, pale pink lipstick as warpaint, would chase me down the street in teetering high-heels, holding Le Tan bottles threateningly before quickly getting distracted by a sale at Supre. I would be left sticky, punctured and orange.
See, I can’t even conjure a politically correct mob.
And now for the double standards part (cue scene kids (if they still exist) holding me down and tattooing ‘I am a hypocrite’ across my chest, a la The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo). I am certainly guilty of labelling people, judging them swiftly and solely on what they’re wearing, where they shop and what music they listen to – and almost certainly, so are you.
On Australia Day, my friend labelled me a hipster. Literally labelled. That innocent-looking, baby blue Brother gadget, normally reserved for lunchboxes and school camps, spat out a 5mm sticker summary of my personality. This was then attached to my chest, and for the rest of the day remained, a badge of shame constantly reminding me that I could be reduced to a single word.
Admittedly, I do like op-shop clothes, Bon Iver, and guys with beards (but so does Ke$ha). I own wayfarers and American Apparel attire, enjoy Bukowski and am guilty of saying ‘I had/knew/liked that before they were cool’.
But I have also shopped at Supre, worn ugg boots WITH trackpants OUTSIDE OF THE HOUSE and enjoy Lady Gaga. I’ve gotten drunk on expensive cider at Laneway, and I’ve gotten drunk on cans of Smirnoff Ice at Parklife. I’ve also got a penchant for 80s teen movies, rockabilly tattoos, know all the words to Eminem’s Lose Yourself, Stan and The Way I Am, and have most of my head shaved.
So I feel like the ‘hipster’ label didn’t quite encompass it all. Hipster-lesbian-bogan-billy, perhaps? But it’s a bit hard to fit all that on a sticky label, isn’t it, and that’s why we do it.
I know what I say probably won’t stick, and I don’t expect anyone to stop dividing society into neat little packs of people – it’s easier that way, I get it.
But I’m going to get my early-twenties idealist on, and give it a shot (and ask you to do the same too). Just try and take a second look next time, give the imagination a work out – try it just once for me, the Frankenstein-ian hodge-podge of genres and taste?
Maybe that slightly orange girl with extensions is a classical pianist who loves Jane Austin. Or maybe that moustached boy in Cibo just wants to trade his boat shoes for footy boots and the macchiato for a VB. Maybe.
Published in UniLife magazine.