Simon Norman

This week, SIMON NORMAN's getting all topical. He's talking occupations and hispters.

I’ve been wondering how to close out this series of columns almost since began writing them. Having solved for you the problem of the meaning of life, and then also answering just about every other question you could ever have needed answering, it was always going to be a problem to close on a high. I could have solved global warming for you, or maybe answered whether or not aliens exist, but my final question is one that’s close to many of our hearts.

How many hipsters does it take to screw in a lightbulb? The answer – well, it’s a pretty obscure number, and you probably haven’t heard of it.

Hipsters are infesting my view of the world in much the same way that chavs did back when we were 14/15. Everywhere that I go there’s someone in an oversized jumper that was either nicked from their parents’ closet or bought at vintage shop for treble what its original price was 20 years ago. Glasses that were once a statement of the height of un-coolness are the necessary accessory of the day. Humanity, it seems, has gone a little mad.

It’s difficult to define what a hipster is, and because of that, it’s difficult to avoid being labelled one sometimes. Normal behaviour is a minefield of potential reasons to find the inner scenester. It used to be that when I talked about a band no one had heard of, people would either call me a twat and walk away, or smile indulgently and let me continue. Nowadays, to avoid being called a hipster, you can only discuss those bands with recognised successful singles.

The other day, it became apparent that another one of my quirks has become a hipster thing-to-do. I was making myself some dinner that didn’t involve pasta and pesto, and one of my friends commented that it was ‘another reason why you’re a hipster, Simon.’ I wasn’t meant maliciously, but it is quite disturbing. At what point did knowing about how to prepare your own food become an undesirable feature? Because, let’s face it, calling someone a hipster is always undesirable.

Gentlemen like Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall are gods amongst the urbanites of East London or Williamsburg, New York. That’s not so much of an issue, because Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall should be a god amongst all of mankind – apart from when he goes on one of his protests.

Because really, that’s the reason why we all hate hipsters. Not their dubious fashion sense. Not because of their air of superiority. Certainly not because of their fixed wheel bikes. We despise hipsters because they do stupid things like “Occupy Wall Street” and “Occupy Lady Mitchell Hall.”

I’ll admit it; once I went on a protest. It was during the winter of the second year of my A-Levels and my school decided it was disgusting that so many boys were turning up to school with woolly hats. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that big an issue, but to the student council of Victoria College, this was finally an issue we could sink out teeth into.

We petitioned. We flyered. We even went so far as to get a local politician to endorse our campaign. And one January afternoon, members of the council went and knocked on the door of our headmaster to present him with the results of our campaign. 750 boys had signed the petition, and many of their parents, and yet we were sent away with our tails between our legs. It was a grim moment, and to this day, I maintain a healthy amount of scepticism about student activism.

So how many hipsters does it change to take a lightbulb? It depends on how many sign the petition.

  • Terrance

    When I was out at Clare Jazz with some friends last night I heard a good joke:
    'Why did the hipster burn his tongue?'
    'Because he ate his soup before it was cool.'
    I found it offensive to suggest that hipsters would act to their own detriment in also to be ahead of the game. They compete in a free market too!

  • ahem

    i wasn't aware that the skinny jean wearing, 20/20 vision bespectacled tossers were occupying lady mitchell hall?

    I thought they were anarchists?

    • fact-check

      CDE doesn't occupy any particular point on the political spectrum, it's just a vaguely defined group that are concerned about reforms to education. Some are Marxists-anarchists and some are roughly centre-ground.

      • CDE = left

        how many are right-wingers?

  • hmm

    little bit upsetting that this is tied into an argument against protest – which seems not just ridiculous but painfully apathetic

    • no

      not really, it's just that everyone's increasingly pissed off with people like you and it can't help but affect our daily lives, oh why is that again? Oh yeah, because you're occupying our lecture hall and stopping political debates, that's why.

      • excuse me, but

        I've been down to the occupation, I have inconvenienced no one and prevented no political debate. Don't homogenise everyone with views that differ from your own; it's lazy.

  • ironically

    people have been bitching about hipsters for about 2 years now

  • Joseph A

    My friend interviewed hipsters:

  • Simon Norman

    *Pant* *Pant*

    Internet zeitgeist, wait for me!

    • ironically…

      you should see ironically's comment above

  • Me Again… mistake, this is terrible


    you're clearly really pleased that some idiot thought you were a hipster.

  • objection

    I've encountered plenty of right-wing hipsters, and most left-wing people I know can't stand hipsters.
    Your argument is invalid.

  • james

    a very confused piece.

  • you plank

    i dont think very many people 'despise' those involved with the occupation- people (myself included) were put off by the plonkery displayed during that Willett's thing- but there was nothing 'stupid' about what the occupation was ultimately supporting.

  • taja

    did it not occur to you that one of your only two examples of student activism (Occupy Wall Street) is not in fact an example of student activism? Or that a protest against a rule about woolly hats has less moral or political significance than a protest against economic inequality or the gradual privatisation of a relatively efficient and egalitarian public education system? You might have confused unhealthy ignorance with healthy skepticism…

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