Monday, February 13, 2012

Cultural Rebels

This morning, I had my classes read two things I wrote, "Orale Vato: Understanding Pachuco Culture" and "Punk in Fullerton 1976-2012". Then I asked them to write in response to this prompt:

Pachucos and punks were cultural rebels of their time and place. Who are the cultural rebels of THIS time and place(Orange County, 2012)?

Here’s what I wrote:

Yesterday, I was walking along when a man drove by me in a car and yelled, “Nice pants, homo!”

I was wearing green jeans. I guess, to that man, green jeans are a tell-tale sign of a homosexual. Incidentally, I am not a homosexual.

But that weird little exchange got me thinking: If I am being persecuted against for deviating from some cultural norm, I must be a rebel…Cool!

I suppose, if I had to be lumped into a cultural category, I would fall into the category of “hipster.” Like any cultural category, hipsters are subject to stereotyping and corporate commodification. For example, you can get “hipster” clothes at the Brea Mall now, or see “hipsters” on television.

But, to me, when I think of hipsters, there are the “posers” and the “real deal.” I like to consider myself a “real deal” hipster for the following reasons:

1.)I generally buy my clothing at thrift or second hand stores. This is a reaction/protest against consumer apparel culture in America where, in order to be “cool” or accepted, you have to drop $40 on a brand-name shirt, or $120 on a pair of brand name jeans. I say, “Fuck that.” My clothes are cooler, like my green jeans.

2.)I am really into independent music and films because I generally despise the shallowness and mindlessness of the corporate culture machines like KROQ or KIISFM. Case in point: Ke$ha.

3.)I like to read books.

4.)I have zero interest in owning real estate or “getting in the market” or amassing great wealth for myself. The things I love (art, music, PBR, friendship) cost very little or no money.

5.)I am an artist and a writer and a musician. Being a creative person, not just a consumer, is a deeply important part of my identity.

The term “hipster” has a long history, stretching all the way back to the Beat Generation, who were also cultural rebels. In his iconic poem “Howl,” Allen Ginsberg wrote fondly of the “angel-headed hipsters.” Although I generally despise cultural categories, I don’t really mind being called a “hipster,” as long as I’m the real deal.


Allen Ginsberg, OG hipster


  1. I'm not quite sure I see that behavior as rebellious: Thrift stores? Independent movies? Reading? If we start to believe buying from thrift stores and being interested in art is rebellious, then we're severely misguided. I think "counter culture" IS the culture right now, if that makes sense.

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