Fringe Tested, Hipster Approved: Six Actors That Hipsters Allow Themselves to Like
By Nathan Savin Scott
The study of what hipsters deem pleasing to the culture gods is an elusive, slippery process. Hipsters don’t outwardly “like” things; they allow themselves to like things, an important distinction.
The former is an emotional attachment to something for it’s own sake, while the latter is an entirely cerebral process. A hipster must match the object of their prospective affection up against other people’s opinions. Too mainstream and it’s out. Too fringe and you risk being labeled alternative, or worse yet, a hipster.
In KoldCast TV’s witty, irony-dripping ode to hipster culture, Hipsterhood, boy meets girl in Silverlake, the hipster hood. They fall in love, but you’d only know it from their hilariously dry, slightly neurotic inner monologues. Far be it for two hipsters of the opposite sex to actually acknowledge their feelings for one another. What if he only wore that mustache for “Mo-vember”? What if she still shops at American Apparel?
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Episode 2 of Hipsterhood:
“Two Hipsters, One Street Corner, and a Hooker”
See, it’s more complex when it comes to hipsters allowing themselves to like people. Which is why actors make great criterion for assessing hipster’s social thresholds. Actors are self-image mirrors, reflecting back to us the ideal versions of ourselves. Where they fall on the continuum of mainstream to alternative style may just spell out where we do. Here is a list of the actors and actresses that hipsters have allowed themselves to like. It’s understandably short.
Everybody likes Ryan Gosling, and he really is the exception that proves the rule when it comes to hipsters allowing themselves to like something. Some forces are just too strong. Hating Gosling is like dividing by zero. Doesn’t matter how hard you try, it just isn’t happening. We’re starting with Ryan Gosling because he exists somewhat outside the realm of things hipsters allow themselves to like or hate. He just is.
Maggie Smith is an important archetype of actress that hipsters allow themselves to like: the elderly, British lady actress with wit. Because she is British, she taps into a strong undercurrent of Anglophile sensibility that runs through the hipster community. This is true of scarves, love of soccer, microbreweries and the like.
Her appearance on Downton Abbey is acceptable because it’s a partnership between the BBC and PBS, just about the only two television networks that can pass the hipster smell test. The fact that she’s older (but still looks great) allows hipsters to position themselves above the sexualization/objectification of women while still appreciating their beauty, which, when it comes to elderly British actresses, they are sure to do.
Gosling Lite. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has the 90’s nostalgia credentials of appearing in Third Rock from the Sun. Hipsters reluctantly like 90’s nostalgia, though with its creeping mainstream fascination, this may be doomed.
JGL has a Tumblr, which counts for something. It also seems he’s completely earnest in his acting and his side projects. Earnestness, ironically, is something that a lot of hipsters admire, even though they are ironic in 99% of their daily activities. It’s why so many like Dostoyevsky and David Foster Wallace. It’s all perfectly contradictory.
Benedict Cumberbatch is the English actor who plays Sherlock Holmes in the new BBC reboot of the classic character. He may as well have been constructed in a laboratory as the prototype of everything that a hipster is looking for when they allow themselves to like an actor.
The Justin Bieber of the Tumblr world, Cumberbatch is pale, tall, and handsome in a very unconventional way. Hipsters love unconventional handsomeness. His character is ornery, angry, a loner, and utterly brilliant, which is how most hipsters view themselves. Also, his name sounds like a Charles Dickens character, which certainly helps.
Alexandra Dahlström and Other Scandinavian Actors You’ve Never Heard Of
This almost goes without saying, but a big part of being a hipster is having an affinity for things that other people have never heard of; there’s actually science behind this. Eastern European actors are pretty safely in this category, at least in the good old U.S. of A. Alexandra starred in a small late 90’s (read: nostalgia) Swedish film called Show Me Love, in which she plays a bored popular chick who falls in love with a sad loser, also a chick.
These artists tend not to be as liked as their British counterparts, because of the whole “not being able to understand what they’re saying” thing, but their obscurity lends them credibility that can only be earned by sifting through multitudes of strange, subtitled indie films and forcing your way into fandom.
By all accounts, Aubrey Plaza shouldn’t be on the list, but she made it! There’s nothing a hipster hates more than someone who plays a hipster in a movie or on TV. And in every role Aubrey Plaza takes, she’s more or less playing an ironic, disconnected hipster. Hipsters should hate her.
She’s been so committed to this typecast, however, so all-encompassing, that it’s becoming clear she’s not so much playing a character and actually this way in real life. Plaza has gone through the dark forest of hipster hatred and emerged stronger for it into uncharted territory of genuineness.
We realize this list is by no means complete, and that there is a good deal of hipsters who probably hate every actor on it. These are the evolving hipsters who like mainstream artists in an attempt to revolt against the revolution, thus completing a full 360-degree turnaround into conventional pop culture taste. It’s all quite confusing. The only thing we can be sure of is that hipsters don’t really like other hipsters.
Hipsters getting in shape. It’s as ironic as it sounds.
Episode 3 of Hipsterhood: “Jogging in Silverlake”
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Nathan Savin Scott is a freelance writer who lives in Washington, DC. He has appeared in Newsweek, ESPN, Thought Catalog, and others.