Welcome To Sundance: I Am Not a HIpster

“I’m not a hipster,” I tried to explain to some random guy in New Orleans, “I’m a punk rock kid.”

“Yeah, right,” he said back to me, while condescendingly rolling his eyes like I’d just said the most hipster thing ever or something.

I wasn’t lying. I tried to tell him I played in any number of punk rock bands and lived a punk rock lifestyle (whatever that means), but he couldn’t seem to get over my aqua marine jeans and super-awesome solar system, button-up shirt. As far as he was concerned, I was as hipster as they come.

What is a hipster? My friend Brian once explained the definition to me at some dive bar. “Listen, you’re a hipster if you have long hair… or short hair; If you’re dressed in black… or if you look obnoxious. You’re a hipster if you’re happy… or if you’re miserable.” Label it and put it away.

The thing is, nobody can really define what a hipster is, even if there’s nothing easier than calling somebody out on being a hipster. It’s one of those things that doesn’t have a distinct definition. It just kind of… is.

Welcome to Sundance

When Milk Studios sent me to review Destin Cretton‘s film “I Am Not A Hipster”, I imagined I was about to walk into a stylized cliché movie that was every bit an original as an Urban Outfitters marketing campaign. Seriously, what is more hipster than saying you’re not a hipster?

The film felt like an expose of one of my friends. It detailed the existence of Brook, a talented San Diego indie folk musician, desperately trying to make sense of reality while balancing the free fall of being unintentionally hip. As far as I could tell, it was a movie about real life.

The thing is, life is not always cool. Sometimes it sucks. Bad.

Brook deals with sadness one cigarette at a time, amidst vomit and popcorn machines while nonchalantly using last night’s empty wine bottles to water the houseplants. Valendrome bike races, PBR mixed media art installations, house parties. Coping with a mother’s death, an uncomfortably estranged father, three sexy sisters and a quirky friend named Clark. Dance beats from a skinny pant wearing, mustachioed kid named Space Face. Facing ex-girlfriends and knowing you fucked everything up, again. Loneliness.

The dialogue was clearly pulled out of real life conversations. When someone asked the main character, Brook, what he was doing with his life, he sarcastically said, “Waiting for happiness to be cool again.” Later, when his best friend was fishing for a compliment, Brook gave his highest praise-“I think it was pretty cool.” Then he watched internet clips of the Japanese tsunami over and over again and cried about the horrors of real life while his sister hugged him.

The weirdest part of it all? The movie was totally relatable. It was a story about the struggle between creating an individual identity and realizing you’re all alone. It was about the human dilemma–searching for meaning in a meaningless world.

Overall, the movie was sad, beautiful and hopelessly real.

After the movie ended, one of the hipster girls who accompanied me admitted the movie made her cry. Accordingly, we drank coffee, talked about stuff, then went and drank wine at some kitchen dance party before driving through the snow to a thrift store. I guess it was pretty cool.

-Mike Abu

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