the h word
Why does every generation have to take the word ‘hip,’ add some innocuous suffix, and assign it to a group of people? Although today’s hip- class is associated with fake glasses, beards, and skinny jeans, they are not the first minority subculture to become victims of such discriminatory hipcism.
It started in the 1940s when the Harlem jazz culture coined the word ‘hipcat’ to marginalize the performers that were too stylish for the mainstream.
Hip-‘s next appearance was deep in Harlem itself in the 1950s where the word ‘hippie’ was coined to describe a specific type of white man who acted more ‘black’ than most ‘black people.’
In the 1960s, ‘hippie’ broke through to the mainstream with an entirely new derogatory meaning – an unhygenic, rebellious, promiscuous youth of unconventional appearance.
Hip- next reared its hateful head in the 1970s with the ‘hip hop’ culture – a form of self-expression that provided a reactionary outlet from urban hardship. Besides rap music, hip hop was originally associated with breaking, graffiti, blatant plagiarism, and other physical and visual art forms stemming from poverty and violence.
Today’s ‘hipsters’ are those phony, liberal, snarky, non-athletic, thrift-shop-heads who listen to noisy, autistic music and think they’re cooler than you. Although a ‘hipster’ might describe herself as ‘reveling in the irony of making nerdy cool,’ you would probably describe her as ‘an idiot,’ and then spit on her.
Although in some circles the H words are not seen as offensive, this is more often a case of the marginalized embracing their status, like African Americans did with their letter-of-the-alphabet word, instead of an actual lexicographical attempt to well-intention the hip- family.
In the 2020s, ‘hipperoos’ emerged as a word that described the post-electronic, digital fashion fanatics with newcrew cuts and long fingernails. A staple of hipperoos was their aversion to having their faces ever seen in public. These they often covered with Vaudeville masks, neo-nylon stockings, and cardboard boxes. And yes, everyone hated them.
The old people were referred to as hipreplacementers, because of their tendency to get replacements for… their… well, never mind.
The overeating subculture eventually became known as hippos, and demanded respect for their lifestyle choices, which they claimed were not compulsory or addictive but only ironic.
Flower children were eventually known as hiplower hiphildren, punks became hippunks, and yuppies became… well, just hippies. In fact, soon every word in the Hipenglish hiplanguage hipwas hipaltered hipto hiphave a hip- added to the front of it, everyone hated everyone, and lived miserably ever after.
They say only hipsters object to the term ‘hipsters.’ I only object to the redundancy.
Hipstory repeating itself.