Let’s face some cold hard truths here. Chances are you probably are a hipster, or are surrounded by hipsters. The once ‘alternative’ trend is now ubiquitous to the point of saturation in popular culture, with every second person carrying an organic hemp tote bag, sporting some cuffed trousers or reminding you they liked that band that doesn’t even exist yet — before you did. Though there’s something offputting about the obnoxiousness of the hipster crowd, some of the most amusing social commentary on the trend plays on the fact that unlike other subcultures, who bond together over shared interests, the hipster denies being a hipster, and in fact wants to stand out as opposed to blend in (at least, on face value).
This ironic refusal to admit to a subculture is captured by Los Angeles filmmaker Shilpi Roy in her upcoming webseries, Hipsterhood. The tagline? “A Web Series, Ironically”. Whilst each episode fits neatly into under 3 minutes, they pack a satirical punch and manage to bring up some subtle truths about the awkwardness of human interaction in a digital age.
We chatted with Shilpi ahead of the debut of the series on the official website, which will premiere next Tuesday 21st August.
P: How did the idea for Hipsterhood come about?
Shilpi Roy: I had been living in Silver Lake, LA (hipster capital of the city) for about 4 years, but I never considered myself a hipster. Like everyone else, I always made fun of their clothes, hair, and general apathy towards life. Then one day I was shopping and realized that I had bought a pair of skinny jeans. I started to have an identity crisis — Am I now a hipster? Have I now become one of those people who hangs out at coffee shops all day and listens to extremely obscure music? Everyone makes fun of hipsters; are people going to make fun of me now, or are hipsters normal people like the rest of us?
P: Hipsters have a pretty ironic view of themselves, so how would you define a hipster and what makes them so funny?
Shilpi Roy: Hipsters are very hard to define because they have, ironically, become very mainstream. This is something that I wrestled with while I was writing the series. I didn’t want to make my characters overly-stereotyped, they way you see them in all the hipster spoofs, but I also didn’t want to make them so ordinary that people didn’t realize they were hipsters. I think what makes hipster funny is that real hipsters, the ones that genuinely are in line with the stereotypes, don’t want to be identified as “hipsters.” The term has a negative connotation! But they have no problem calling everyone around them “hipsters.” I understand not wanting to be labeled, but it’s kind of like a dog that goes around thinking “dogs suck, I’m so much better than that dog over there.” For outsiders looking in, it’s really amusing to watch these people look down on the very thing that they are.
P: Why did you choose to focus on internal dialogue between characters rather than any interaction?
Shilpi Roy: As I would run my errands in my hipster neighborhood, I realized that I would occasionally see the same people at certain places — the grocery store, the bank, etc. But, in an urban setting like LA, even if you’ve both noticed each other, you’re not gonna introduce yourselves; that’s just not something you do here. So I started paying attention to what I was thinking about as I ran these errands, and I realized that our inner dialogue is hilarious because it’s all over the place. I could be thinking about my grocery list one second, and then be balking at what the lady next to me is wearing in the very next second, while making up imaginary scenarios of how I would approach the hipster trying to decide between pasteurized and un-pastuerized milk. It seemed natural to go with inner dialogue because it is more revealing about ourselves and more entertaining than “going through the motions” of life.
P: What sets the webseries apart from the plethora of Funny or Die style spoofs on hipsters and other subcultures?
Shilpi Roy: Well, as I said earlier, hipster culture has become mainstream — my buying skinny jeans is proof of that (they are my favorite pair of jeans by the way, surprisingly comfortable). So I purposely shied away from “spoofing” hipsters. I tried to create characters that everyone would be able to identify with, as opposed to just laugh at. Now, they definitely have their flaws, and get themselves into some really awkward situations, but the humor stems from the audience having been in those situations themselves, as opposed to just watching weird people do weird things, they way most spoofs are.
I do love the spoofs though; I’m not sure if they’re as funny to people who aren’t in direct contact with hipsters everyday like I am, but The Hipster Olympics was definitely one of my inspirations as I was writing and directing hipsterhood.
P: Your characters seem pretty pathetic when it comes to human interaction. Do you think they’ll get it together in the end, or do they need to get over themselves first?
Shilpi Roy: Ha, well the only way to find out is to watch! They are really really bad at human interaction, and most of the time it’s that painful awkwardness that we all strive to avoid in our lives, but almost always ends up happening. Like when you wave at someone across the street who you’re sure is your friend, and they look you right in the eye and you realize you have no idea who that person is. Those moments go by quickly, but they are so painful, in the moment, that sometimes it’s hard to get over yourself .
P: What do you have planned for the characters throughout the coming series?
Shilpi Roy: The series is structured like real life, so they keep running into each other while they’re doing everyday things: grocery shopping, crossing the street, at the coffee shop, dry cleaners, etc. Get ready to see some painfully awkward interactions, some hilarious inner dialogue, some fun hipster stereotypes (I do try to use a couple, since all stereotypes are based in truth) and maybe, just maybe, if they are able to get over themselves, they might have a real conversation!