Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Are Hipsters the New Chavs?

Back in around the year 2001, the word chav started to escalate into popular usage. One of a number of terms originally used to describe a specific type of person with a bad attitude, loud troublemakers with tinny cars with huge exhausts and a certain style of clothing (usually fake Burberry).

This word was one of a large number used in cities around the country to describe groups of people that would cause trouble and were best avoided. Other variants were Ned's, Townies, etc.

Then something changed. The word started being used everywhere, and as this happened the definition changed. Suddenly it was used as a term to target anyone who was poor or from a council estate. Newspapers latched onto it, and pretty soon it went from being a descriptor to being simply an insult.

I think right now, that exact same thing is happening with the word hipster.

For a number of years, hipster has been a slightly mocking description of that specific sub-set of people who have an attitude of being self-important, and who wear clothing that reflects that. The arrogrant, Nathan Barley style, more creative than thou group as exemplified in this video:

The problem is, that as the term has increased in usage, the word seems to have got more aggressive, and has become a way to insult creative middle-class people. Just as with chav, the word has been shaped by wider usage from those who don't really know the original idea. Now anyone who doesn't come from a council estate (chav..!), and dresses in a slightly retro or different way is instantly a hipster. It has become the middle ground insult between Chav and Toff.

Which leads back to the title. Are hipsters the new chavs? Is this a stereotype that should now be discarded and re-written? I for one am getting fed up with the word now.

Disclaimer: I play synth.


Charles Edward Frith said...

Chavs would go to war if The Sun told them to. Hipsters wouldn't.

Anonymous said...

Hipsters would wear a cow's twat on their heads if they heard it was cool to do so. At least chavs are authentic. Hipsters want to be seen to be cool, without being cool, want to be seen to be interesting without being interesting, and want to be seen to do something arty without the talent or work ethic to actual produce something.

Rob Mortimer (aka Famous Rob) said...

Are chavs being authentic? It's largely a group that follow the fashions and are looking for respect of others... very much as the hipsters are doing.

But as the real point of the post - both of those terms are catch-alls for a huge range of people. People are far far wider in scope and opinion than just being a chav, hipster or toff.