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Subculture Studies: Extreme Hipsters

Everyone can pick out a hipster. You know the clothes, the hair, the music, etc. You might not be able to sit down and write out a defined list, but the uniquely similar differences between them are all fairly common. I'm not saying that in a judgemental way; it's purely a sociological observation, and one to keep in mind as you read on.

This brief overview covers a small community within the hipster subculture who call themselves Extreme Hipsters. Their numbers have been growing for the past three years, but, due to their nature, you have probably never knowingly seen one.

The Extreme Hipster, or EH, movement began at the 60th annual Hipster Convention in 2004 (UrkelCon '04), where there was a split between the main hipster body and what would become the founding EH members.

The Mayor of Hipsters, Jan "Michael 'J. Fox' Vincent" Huddersfield, was in the middle of giving a seminar entitled "I Saw That This Morning, It's Stupid: Advanced Derision" when he was interrupted by an irate attendee. The woman, Linda "McCartney Cocaine Bowtie" Favergue accused Huddersfield of not being hipster enough; rather, she accused him of perpetuating the current dismissive hipster mindset and doing nothing to further the group as a whole.

After she was laughed at by just about everyone for caring about something, Favergue left the conference. Her words, though, touched a few of the other convention-goers and she was pursued back to her hotel room.

There, at the Downton Marriott Hotel on April 21st 2004, Favergue, along with Peter "Bruce Banner" Parker, Cheyenne "Robocop 2" Wilkinson, and "Gorgeous, as well as Curious" George "The Animal Steele" Bromley laid down the core Extreme Hipster ethos.

Key Concepts
Extreme Hipsters center their lives around the concept of "vivid irony", a school of thought which, unlike just plain bad taste, puts forward the notion that to experience true irony of life you must become absorbed by the basest and most common aspects of popular culture and society.

For example, while you may find your average hipster down at the airport bar sporting a 3-2-1 Contact silk-screened vest and downing a PBR, the Extreme Hipster will rock pleated Dockers and a sensible oxford (collar down) while musing about the latest American Idol winner or how they "just don't trust Tom Cruise anymore".

On the surface it may seem that EH's are just average, mundane people. In fact, they have evolved a deliberate cynicism about irony (and vice versa) which causes them to create more and more subtle layers of lifestyle affectations which, like Robert DeNiro's paralyzing tics in Awakenings, reduce them to being cultural spectators. Their ultimate rigidity allowing them to be carried along by the currents of their own relentless self-awareness and self-doubt.

They must keep up with their extreme hipness at all times; to fall behind means becoming merely hip, or worse, a "norm." It is this area that causes the most difficulty for students of hipster subcultures; if an EH becomes a "norm" you will see no discernible change in their appearance or mannerisms. This resemblance also makes it extremely difficult to locate active EH's.

Above: An average, upper-middle class businessman.

Above: The hippest motherfucker you will ever meet.

For the amateur EH spotter you can sometimes find low-hanging fruit in your own neighborhood. Usually it's those who are new to the scene and still cling to some of their old, non-extreme hipster habits.

That guy sure looks serious as he talks about how he always Tivo's According to Jim, but what's with the slack jaw, mirrored glasses and moustache? Unless you hang out with Lemmy on a regular basis, you've just met your first aspiring EH. Enjoy it now, soon he'll be unrecognizable: just one more secretly achingly hip guy in a Morning Zoo t-shirt pricing leaf blowers.

This "passing" is the ultimate goal of an EH. To be able stand in line for Sandra Bullock's latest film without exchanging knowing looks with your mate; to proudly shop at American Eagle for oversized logo sweaters; to tell the Applebee's waiter to "give my compliments to the chef" with a completely straight and earnest face. These are the ideals to which the EH aspires.

You may be thinking, "Well if I can't pick them out, how do they pick each other out? Is it like koalas?" In the short amount of time the group has been studied, researchers have been continually stumped by the manner in which Extreme Hipsters identify one another. Current thought is that, no, it's not like koalas. But if not koalas, then what?

Some say it's in the eyes, that you can see a thoughtful glimmer in there behind the practiced shroud of dark numbness. Others say there are long lists of all the EH's in the world, and that these lists are passed silently from hand to hand, like the Mormon phone book.

Most of what we know comes from members who have given up the lifestyle; but even they will not divulge every secret. Sadly, we may never know the full story. Until a member comes forward with more information and heavily corroborated evidence, we have only hearsay and anonymous, demographic surveys on which to base most of our theories.

According to an independent survey conducted in early 2006, the greatest concentrations of Extreme Hipsters in America is in coastal suburbs and small midwestern towns. Many still live in large urban centers, but as they begin to get married and have children, they tend to move out to less populated areas where there is greater access to affordable housing, less crime, and better schools.

Linda Favergue herself moved to just outside Galveston, Texas in late 2005, with her husband Mike and their newborn baby girl, Cienna. But once relocated, Mike divorced her and left her with the baby in a town of strangers. She now works two jobs to pay for the child- and healthcare she could not afford otherwise.

When informed of his former mentor's situation, Peter Parker, who has since fallen into the Retro/Anachro-Hipsterism scene, is said to have remarked, "That's pretty fresh; Linda was always one step ahead. Hey, peep this: I can still fit into my underoos."

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Copyright © 2005-2013 Graham Cranfield