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The ‘H’ Word: ‘American Hipster’ Creator Says Hipster is a Dirty Word

FILE- In this April 19, 2017, file photo, former Vice President Joe Biden attends the opening ceremony for Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. Biden insists he is not making another presidential bid in 2020, despite giving a rousing speech to New Hampshire Democrats about restoring dignity to politics and winning back working class voters on Sunday, April 30, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

There is a newish web series on YouTube called American Hipster, featuring the creative endeavors of people spanning 10 U.S. cities. One of the cities featured is Seattle, which is where a couple of the creators are from. The five Seattle episodes feature Rachel’s Ginger Beer, Seattle bar queen Linda Derschang, the Bumbershoot music festival, furniture maker Marian Built and artist Kesey Pollock.

I called up the director of American Hipster thinking we would just talk about the show. But once I got David Fine on the phone, the conversation immediately turned into a discussion of the word ‘hipster’ and the stigma that’s attached to it.

“I think you hear ‘American Hipster’ and it’s like, ‘Oh, gross. I’m not going to watch that.’ Particularly if you’re wearing a flannel. If there’s anything about you that someone could point to and say, ‘hipster.’ Which I think, by the way, is pretty much everybody under 40. It’s been very difficult to make something, and put everything I have into it, when I know that there’s a lot of people who aren’t going to give it a chance based on what it’s called. Sure, dive bars are hipster and Earl Grey sriracha ice cream is hipster, but the people who are making this, and who have made it their lives to make these things, are really passionate about them.”

Each city gets an episode on music, art, food, style, and social life and they’re extremely well done and, in my opinion, creatively inspiring. But David says the word hipster has kept some from agreeing to be featured on the program.

“I wish I could say that everyone was banging down our door to be on a show called American Hipster. but that just wouldn’t be truthful. Some people say, ‘No, I just can’t do it.’ ‘I take what I do too seriously,’ is a comment that we got once, which I find hilarious.”

He features so-called hipsters in cities like Brooklyn, Anchorage, Detroit, Portland, and I wondered if there’s much diversity amongst them. Has the hipster culture been homogenized. Portlandia-ized?

“No, there’s such a huge difference between all of these cities. So you go to Detroit and the artists you see working there are creating massive, large scale murals. Because, why paint on a canvas when you have all these buildings that aren’t being used? That’s of Detroit. You go to Anchorage, and you want to do a food episode. Foraging is a kind of hip thing in the food world, but it’s been a reality in Alaska forever.”

I asked if there is anything going on in a city, that we don’t see in the Pacific Northwest.

“Bounce music. The Nicky Da B episode, from New Orleans, is one of my favorite episodes. It’s so distinctly of New Orleans. So interesting in it’s blurring of sexual and gender lines. Bounce music was sort of taken over by the LGBT community and the dancing just looks so fun. Really really fast, booty shaken, swivelin.’ Not being from there I feel like I’m not going to quite do it justice.”

You can find the Seattle episodes of American Hipster here.

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About the Author

Rachel Belle

Rachel Belle is a feature contributor and personality on The Ron & Don Show on KIRO Radio (weekdays 3-7pm), and host of the twice-monthly, culinary audio adventure podcast, Your Last Meal.


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