If the Generation X magnum opus Reality Bites was remade in 2013, a few things would be different. The characters would all be living at home after fizzling out at the latest fad website, James Franco would be filling in for Ethan Hawke, and the Winona Ryder character (this time played by Ellen Page) would be applying for a job as chief blogger at Gawker. Instead of being asked to define "irony," however, she would be asked to define something a little more current.
"Hipster. Uh ... Hipster. It's a noun. It's when someone is being ... a hipster. Well, I can't really define 'hipster' ... but I know it when I see it!"
Don't worry, Winona/Ellen. It's a problem we all have these days. The word has lost almost all meaning, with just about any odd or different behavior eliciting the "hipster" call. Drink the cheap beer? Hipster. Wear the funny hat? Hipster. Obsess over that pretty electronic gadget? Hipster. Follow the unpopular band? Hipster.
Ah, but that last one isn't all that unique to today's culture. Maybe they weren't always called "hipsters," but the person who bases his self-worth on enjoying authors, musicians, or sports teams that were not yet "mainstream" has been around since before an exasperated New England teen said to his little brother, "Oh, you haven't read Henry David Thoreau yet? You don't know what you've been missing!"
This breed of hipster is the worst, not only because they abandon their love once it becomes successful ("I loved Kings of Leon before they sold out!"), but also because they actively dissuade fans from joining in the new pop fun. They're the type of people who will complain about fans "jumping on the bandwagon" in almost any scenario.
With the Pirates finally winning after twenty years of overwhelming failure, the hipsters of the baseball world are in danger of emerging in full force. As the club has marched its way into the playoffs this month, PNC Park has been packed night after night with fans who have anticipated October baseball for the first time since "The Mighty Ducks" was in theaters.
Meanwhile, this special breed of hipster fans across the country make snide comments to themselves about the city's support. "Now you come out!" "Where were you before they were good?" "Can you even name three players on the team?" They're out there, and they're only going to get louder. Once the playoffs arrive, the spotlight shifts from the entire league to only a few teams, and the clubs with the most appealing stories will get the most focus. Believe me, people will get tired of this Pirates team and they will make sure we hear about it.
Remember when the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays went worst-to-first after a decade of mediocrity and faced off against the Phillies in the World Series? They were another feel-good story that everyone couldn't help but root for. Well, after only a couple of weeks in the October spotlight, people were writing this. And this. And this. That love can turn to hate oh-so-quickly in today's world.
To all those baseball fans ready to turn on the Pirates and their "bandwagon" fans? "Sit down and shut up," I say. The Pirates are good for baseball. Any team that can remind its fans and the rest of the nation that baseball is anyone's game should be celebrated. Baseball is the greatest sport in the world, after all, and it's this kind of season that shows why.
The Pirates' fans are also good for baseball, bandwagon or not, hipster or not. Setting aside the ridiculous notion that a fan base must stick with a dottering, aimless, failure of a franchise for twenty years in order to be called "legitimate fans", having fans in seats is the only way baseball will continue to exist and to grow. Sure, fans in Pittsburgh had a hard time loving those terrible '90s teams, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be allowed to appreciate the team now that it's actually fun. After all, most people didn't look at the 0-21 Baltimore Orioles in 1988 and say to themselves, "That's my favorite team!" Success breeds fans, pure and simple, and stifling that is no good for anyone.
In fact, the only thing that's bad for baseball in this scenario are those hipster fans who don't want people to enjoy one of the most memorable seasons in recent baseball history. If only they could look at themselves in a mirror and see how they're hurting the game and the team they love so much, they might actually stop. It seems like a simple request, asking fans to take a step back and look at the reality of the situation. But then again, reality does bite.