Homeless, Hipster, or Redneck: A Guide to Distinguishing The Younger Generation

I remember as a teenager that my mother was often aghast and confused at the things I found fashionable.  This seemed especially true whenever one of those trends was a throw-back to something she had an association with from her own childhood.  When I went through a bohemian phase, I remember her asking me why I would want to dress like a hippie, the word hippie dripping off her tongue with the same contempt that one might use for the word pervert or cancer.  I remember rolling my eyes and wondering why my mom was so lame.

And yet, here I am in my mid-thirties, struggling with the growing feeling that young people and their fashion choices are confusing me.  I don’t want to be completely out of touch, so I still subscribe to the Urban Outfitters catalog.  Although, as I flip through it, I often find myself wondering if these clothes are for real, or meant to be some ironic joke.  Rompers?  Suspenders?  Paisley MC Hammer pants?  SO CONFUSED.

And yet, I saw something yesterday that went beyond confusing.  In fact, it disturbed me quite deeply.

I’m talking about the hipster mullet. 

The hipster mustache was already alarming to me, and the hipster beard has frequently made it difficult for me to distinguish between film students and homeless people.  There have been occasions where I’ve seen a guy with an overgrown beard and torn jeans and assumed he’s an indigent, only to observe a few minutes later that he’s listening to NPR on his iphone 4 and wearing Tom’s shoes.

If I’m honest, there was also an occasion where I saw a scruffy guy and thought he looked pretty hot in an artsy, rock-star way, only to watch him lay down on a cardboard pallet next to a shopping cart of his belongings.

IT’S CONFUSING.

And the hipster mullet . . . my brain just cannot compute a mullet resurgence.  My first sighting was during a documentary we were watching about an organic furniture craftsman.  He was young and stylish and good-looking . . . and he was rocking a mullet to rival Jeff Foxworthy circa 1989.  He lived in Portland, he was a vegan, and he had a tattooed girlfriend named Astrid.  The documentary was quite interesting and very artfully shot but all I could really think about during the next 90 minutes was OMG THE MULLET IS MAKING A COMEBACK, MY BRAIN MAY EXPLODE.

And should I even be calling it a comeback, as LL Cool J would say?  Can it really be in again if it was never really in to begin with?  I mean, clearly the younger generation is not holding the same collective association of the mullet with things like steel-toed boots, muddin’ trucks, homophobia, bad grammar, chewing tobacco, taxidermy, and blatant racism.

So, as an act of public service, I’ve created a simple flow-chart for non-hipsters to determined whether a man with a mullet is a hipster or a redneck.  Because you never know when you might be faced with a 20-something in a mullet, and need to know if you should inquire about his artistry with reclaimed wood or his […insert interesting topic that one could converse with rednecks about here…].

 

Kristen is the mom of four kids in four years through birth and adoption, and started blogging at Rage Against the Minivan as a coping skill in 2006.  She is also the managing editor at ShePosts.  Kristen lost her long battle against the minivan last year . . . it now sits in her driveway covered in crushed cheerios and remnants of her self-esteem.

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Comments

  1. Deb Rox says:

    Brilliant. I live in a somewhat progressive area of a conservative Southern town, so you have no idea how often I need this. And if the mullet wearer is a chick, it’s even more complicated, because it’s a lesbian thing, too.

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  2. HeatherS says:

    Great flow chart. That will certainly help clear up a lot of confusion here in upstate NY, where the mullet unfortunately, has never completely gone away (rednecks). Now I will know not to make assumptions.

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  3. LOVE the flowchart although working in Olympia washington surrounded by hipsters a co worker was reading over my shoulder and disagreed with a few saying that hipsters would wear/be seen with much of what was designated as redneck *sigh*

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  4. Beckey says:

    This is best post!
    My husband and I always play “hipster or hobo” on long drives when we see tattered/hot/bearded men walking on the sidewalk. It’s my favorite.

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  5. Ashley says:

    Love it. Can you do something to distinguish between Dust Bowl Hipster and Appalachian Hipster?

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  6. BetaDad says:

    Nice. A lot of that applies to mustaches too. I wonder if hipsters would be so bold as to rock a mustache AND a mullet? I’ll keep my eyes open for that, since I can’t walk out the door without bumping into hipsters around here.

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  7. Diana says:

    So If I have a COEXIST sticker (I saw one, and I want one) on my beat up mini-van complete with 263,000 miles and duct tape, but I’m listening to NPR and shopping at Petsmart – where do I fit in?

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  8. You are obviously a humanitarian. Thank you for this.

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  9. Karen says:

    Of COURSE the mullet-sporting furniture maker was from Portland. OF COURSE. (Where I’m from).

    We weren’t always this insane. And if you step one tiny foot out of the Portland area – you’re in redneck country. So, your flow-chart – is it printable?

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  10. Kristy says:

    Awesome. Especially in Pittsburgh where the mullet transcends generations and has never been out of style for some folks.

  11. Scott says:

    @Karen : Wow Portland sounds exactly like Asheville! Sister cities, huh? (theres also the craft beer thing…’eerie…).

    • Karen says:

      They definitely sound like sister-cities. Come to town and have a beer poured for you personally by the bartender at my local pub with the handlebar moustache. Waxed & everything.

      :)

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  12. Kristen, the worst thing about this whole thing is that the “need more information” part kept describing me. I started feeling suspense as I waited to find out which one I am!

    Thank goodness for my sling.

    Your genius surpasses them all.

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  13. Ohh hipsters. They are taking over everything. I had a friend who used to walk down Passyunk Ave in Philly (aka hipsterville) and play the “Spot-a-Hipster” came. He had an elaborate point system. I know it included an extra 10 points for a sleeve tattoo or an asymmetrical haircut.

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  14. This is funny, but I have to admit that premise of needing to label someone with a stereotype to feel comfortable in the world bothers me.

  15. Pearl' says:

    Oh, my but that was funny!

    I’d also like to hear your take on the “man bun” — I have to admit that I find men wearing buns (ala Mrs. Claus) to be laughable. Why do they do it?!

    Pearl

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  16. Where is Joel Osteen on your flow chart?

  17. ohlauren says:

    I don’t think it’s so much about stereotypes as cultures… or subcultures anyway. And very different ones, at that, which have gone so far in opposite directions as to come back around to overlap in some puzzling ways.

    The labels themselves aren’t important, but the cultural associations they hint at can be helpful in identifying conversation starters if you end up interacting with the person, and trying to figure out which culture they identify with provides harmless amusement if they remain anonymous!

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  18. ohlauren says:

    Pooop. This reply was to the comment ABOVE the one it went to.

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  19. vin says:

    brillliant flow chart. It”s always been cool to be uncool!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] So true. That is all. [Sidenote: While we are on the hipster topic, you should all go check out this blog post on how to decipher between a hipster, redneck, and homeless person. You can thank me [...]

  2. [...] fit gay couples, earthy (a.k.a. “dirty”) 3rd wave hippies, oldsters, youngsters, hipsters, beautiful people, and all manner of [...]

  3. [...] At Aiming Low: Homeless, Hipster, or Redneck: A Guide to Distinguishing The Younger Generation [...]

  4. [...] At Aiming Low: Homeless, Hipster, or Redneck: A Guide to Distinguishing The Younger Generation [...]

  5. [...] -Hipster or Redneck? As a girl from Southwest Virginia, I particularly get a kick out of the hipster mullet and find myself trying to decide if a person is a hipster or a redneck on a daily basis. It’s almost always a hipster. This is Seattle, after all. [...]

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