The Hipster Hunt

May 03, 2012 at 4:00 am

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.

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