A Brandeis University study recently published in the MIT Technology Review discusses how non-conforming groups eventually grow to a size that makes the participants conforming. The idea makes sense, and recalls the old line of, “If we all embrace anarchy together, are we still anarchists, or just another group?”
The Brandeis University study used Hipsters as an example and showed a picture of a young man with the facial hair, beenie, and flannel shirt that are associated with hipsters.
The guy who saw himself in the picture wasn’t amused. He sent a sharply worded note to the publisher –
You used a heavily edited Getty image of me for your recent bit of click-bait about why hipsters all look the same. It’s a poorly written and insulting article and somewhat ironically about five years too late to be as desperately relevant as it is attempting to be. By using a tired cultural trope to try to spruce up an otherwise disturbing study. Your lack of basic journalistic ethics and both the manner in which you reported this uncredited nonsense and the slanderous unnecessary use of my picture without permission demands a response and I am of course pursuing legal action.
The editors of the MIT Technology Review checked with their editor. The male model in the photo had signed the release… but it wasn’t the guy who sent in the response. That was a different hipster, who couldn’t discern between his own image and that of the model. After further communication, the person who complained wrote back –
Wow, I stand corrected I guess. I and multiple family members, and a childhood friend pointed it out to me, thought it was a mildly photo-shopped picture of me. I even have a very similar hat and shirt, though in full color I can see it’s not the same. Thank you for getting back to me and resolving the issue.
It appears that we have an answer. When the group gets big enough, they are the culture, and no longer can call themselves “counter-culture.”