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