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Steve Urkel: the hipster before hispterism was cool.

November 1, 2011

As a sociologist (sociology student), I have analyzed things such as discourse, mass media, culture and counter-culture. It is interesting how eventually the discourse of counter-culture often eventually emerges and submerges with mainstream media, becoming far more common place than originally intended. In many ways authenticity of the original thing is lost in this process, and it becomes more of a joke to the originators at they try to reject those simply hoping on the band wagon.

Take “hipsterism” for example. Now it could be a West coast/Vancouver Island thing, or a way of urbanizing that grunge look of the 90’s, but the hipster/ faux-hipster look seems to be on the rise. This has, of course, led to the credibility or hipsters being flushed down the toilet with their cigarette butts, or at least apathetically tossed into the trash with their early 90s indie rock cassette tapes. The modern-day hipster looks like most other people though: trying too hard. Except they are trying too hard to not look like they are trying… and maybe that’s part of the problem, these fads catch on because they are too easily accessible.

So, it seems like I live in a sea of plaid, and I am drowning amidst thick rimmed glasses, suspenders and other comical accessories. Even though I love all of those things, unfortunately as they say, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

How exactly do these counter-cultures become adopted as part of the norm? Who is the original hipster? Steve Urkel is the first person that comes to mind when I think about the of the birth of hipsters. Sure the 90s made everyone look a little bit like a hipster (and yes I know Family Matters ran 89-98), but I think Urkel was the true birth of what hipsterism wanted to embody: uniqueness wrapped up in a package of some strange intellectual and individuality.

Think about it… He had the comical thick rimmed glasses, the awkwardness, the bright plaid shirts, mis-matched socks, suspenders, cuffed short tight jeans, vintage shoes, intense articulation… and I am sure the list goes on.

Steve Urkel may just be the original hipster. I think if Urkel was actually a real person he’d look around at all these people today,  wearing virtually the same thing did, and he’d ask “Did I do that?”

And I’m sure that in true hipster fashion he’d secretly think he did…

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 1, 2011 1:29 pm

    This is a fun and interesting post. Urkel’s style of dress may have been a precursor to hipster style but, unfortunately that’s about all the current hipsters have copied from the television character. I remember Urkel as being annoying yet lovable. Unfortunately, hipsters are just annoying. Urkele was smart, enthusiastic, and embraced cultural diversity (he spoke Japanese, visited Russia and loved polka music). Hipsters may be smart but, they are world weary (without knowing the world) and only value people who look like themselves and are like minded. I live surrounded my hipsters. I think I’d prefer a community of Urkel’s (I’d just need to buy studier furniture). :-)

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