The Hipster Hunt

| May 3, 2012 4:00 AM video

When I moved to New York from Paris last August, I thought my English was pretty good. I had lived in the United States before as a child, and most people tell me I have little or no accent.

But then I started to hear this new word I didn’t know: hipster. The term popped up everywhere — in articles, YouTube videos and off-the-cuff derogatory comments, mostly coming from (and targeting) blasé-looking youths.

Lorena Galliot moved to New York from Paris to study journalism at Columbia University in 2011. When none of her friends could accurately define the term "hipster," she set out on quest to find out for herself. Image courtesy of Lorena Galliot and Julie Percha.

But when I asked what it meant, I got vague, often contradictory responses.

“Hipsterism is a lifestyle.”  —  “No, it’s an attitude.” — “No, it’s a pseudo-attitude.”

“Hipsters are penniless creative types.”  — “No, they’re just rich kids pretending to be penniless.”

“Hipsters are environmentally conscious.” —  “No, they pose as tree-huggers but shop at Wal-Mart.”

I was confused.

So I decided to set off on a hipster quest, enlisting the help of  fellow journalism student Julie Percha. Our search began on Google and brought us to the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We learned about hipster fashion and hipster brunch from a Williamsburg blogger, then explored the term’s jazzy origins with Columbia professor David Hajdu.

We hope our video will help explain what a hipster is to like-minded, clueless foreigners and native New Yorkers, alike.


What is a hipster? Follow one French woman on her quest to find out. Video courtesy of Lorena Galliot and Julie Percha.


Lorena Galliot and Julie Percha are master’s of science students at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, specializing in broadcast journalism.

  • Kev

    well done

  • Brian

    Hipsters Suck

    • Brett

      What a unique opinion, Brian. Thanks for the new insight.

  • Ian

    Oh man. A little late to the party. Hipsters are extinct; its a post-hipster world now.

  • Jesse

    Doesn’t being a Columbia Journalism School student qualify you as a hipster?

    • Lorena Galliot

      Good Point! Some would definitely argue it does :)

  • Chicken Underwear

    The word hipster was invented by bigots who can not make fun of people based on race, sexual orientation, religion or other characteristic like that.

    Some people just need to make fun of other people, it is ok to make fun of a made up class of people called hipsters.

  • Igor Johnson
  • Alex

    I find more often than not the word “hipster” is used as a socially acceptable slur. It’s frowned upon to call someone a “faggot” nowadays so this is an easy replacement.

  • Sophy Bot

    Interesting analysis. I recently gave a TEDx talk on hipsters and identity that you may find interesting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVcierHyhvo

  • alpharivelino

    this french girl is the opposite of a hipster. she seems genuine and sincere.

  • zac

    point of interest for the francophiles here, the term “bobo,” the closest equivalent to hipster, is actually of american origin; it was coined by David Brooks in his book Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There, but it never took off in english.

  • TimSPC

    I was disappointed by the title of this article. I thought there would be actual hipster hunting. 

  • une fille

    eeeuuuuhh… aren’t there hipsters in paris?

  • http://twitter.com/KolonelBleep Eren İleri

    hipster as a term is just represents the model of a person that we don’t want to be

  • Furry Lewis

    Midwest hipsterism has been explained: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eS1Lq509kic

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=8840817 Violet Voltage

    dammit, my big glasses in this video do not make me a hipster. :)

  • CGSJ ’79

    Not only are hipsters apparently passé, but so is beat poet Allen Ginsburg. Not one mention of the

    “angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,” 

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