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Common Misconceptions On The Internet

For the people who have no idea what the internet is raging over but want to rage any way

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1. Hipsters: They've been around forever

The hipster subculture has come to light as of recent years as the calling card of white Indie millenials, with all the liberal love and nonchalance in the world. Their anti- mainstream, anti pop culture blend has made them somewhat of a cultural staple in the recent years, and straddles the line of too cool for school and pretentious. Although the hipster movement seems relatively new most people fail to realize that the hipster culture has been around since the 1940s, because yes, even Humphrey Bogart needed a hater.

The term hipster was coined in the 1940s thanks in part to the jazz age and subsequent overuse of the word “hip” to describe anything cool (because saying everything was jazzy, just wasn’t cutting it anymore). Hipster originally was defined by any one who loves Jazz music, (which explains the current hipster fascination with jazz, but I digress). This hipster sect was typically made up of young, middle class, white males hoping to emulate the grandeur of the, mostly black jazz musicians they followed. I’m sure this sort of emulation pared nicely with claims of “Oh jazz? You’ve probably never heard of it,”

Hipsters, as we know them today, rose to acclaim in the 1990s as liberals, who smoke European cigarettes, and could always be counted on to spout obscure facts about things no one really cared about. In essence the hipster culture we know and love is still holding onto its 1940s roots of being so far removed from the stiff, “upper crust” folk and knowing more about Jazz music than you do.

2. Feminism: (Feminism ≠ anti-male)

If one finds their way onto an internet chat room and even thinks the word “feminism” they would find themselves hailed down upon by the wrath of a thousand and one online social activists of varying stances, with a million opinions of why feminism is good, bad or in between. What does seem to be a prevalent issue in all these lovely online battles is that, not many people seem to recognize what feminism is.

Feminism is not the destruction of one gender in favor of another. It is not the catalyst for a woman led call to arms as the battle of the sexes finally ignites, allowing women to finally inherit the Earth. Although I would be interested to see how that plays out, for purely selfish reasons, of course. Feminism is the idea of putting both men and women on equal footing. It’s the idea that women shouldn’t be payed less for equal work or passed up for a job that they are fully qualified for because they are seen as “too delicate”.

If you say you’re a feminist it doesn’t mean you hate men or want to see their gender diminished, it only means that you want to see women being treated as equals with men and vice versa. Many people confuse the notion, taking the extreme examples of feminism to clarify their point, but I assure you feminism does not equal the decimation of men or that women will take over as the stronger sex, make decisions about your body and pay you half of what we make for equal work. We wouldn’t be so cruel.

3. Cultural Appropriation: Doesn't mean you can't enjoy another culture

Cultural appropriation is a scary and very tricky topic. In fact the Internet would have you believe that by showing a mild interest in a culture different from yours, you are “culturally appropriating”. The picture that is being painted of cultural appropriation makes it seem as though it is illegal to even show an interest in a differing ethnic group. As if you have no rights or claims to look beyond your country for things that interest you. Sometimes it begins to feel a little accusatory:

Internet 1: “Hey did you just listen to Zulu folk music?”
Internet 2: “Did you just download Zulu folk music?”
Internet 3: “Woah how dare you, that is so insensitive, you’re not South African you can’t do that!”
Me: *Cries*

I’m no judge on what is correct or incorrect in the world, but I do know that appropriation doesn’t happen because you show an interest in another culture. As a person, who hails from a differing culture to that of where I live, I actually like when people show an interest in where I’m from and the things that make my country unique. That isn’t to say that it (cultural appropriation) doesn’t happen, because it does. The difference is when people show a genuine interest and respect for a culture it isn’t appropriation.

You’re allowed to like Bollywood movies and Indian food even if you’re not Indian, and you’re allowed to like K-Pop and eat kimchi and want to live in Korea because their way of life intrigues you, and yes you’re even allowed to switch to Rastafarianism because you have researched the faith and it truly agrees with you and what your religious views are.

What isn’t allowed however is for you to reduce a culture down to its stereotype and present a mocking, derivative version of it as truth. You can’t say you’re switching to Rastafarianism, just so you can smoke pot with your buddies and call it faith (it’s an actual religion, not a joke), and you can’t rock a Native American headdress just because it looks good, and matches those shoes you got that one time (the headdress is sacred to their culture and is something you have to earn, not something you just happen to get by showing up and being Native American).

The thing to remember about cultural appropriation is simple, it’s okay to like a new culture and want to emulate and experience it. What isn’t okay is when you don’t respect it enough to understand the elements that it is made up of, and honor all those things in the same way you would your own culture.

4. Twerking:

Twerking is the new prevalent dance craze sweeping America, that has us half annoyed and mildly intrigued. Interesting thing about twerking is that it’s NOT a new dance. According to the Oxford dictionary, the word twerking has been around for at least 20 years, and although it’s seeing a resurgence in popularity, the numerous “twerk teams” that have graced youtube with their presence are nothing more than a shadow of what twerking actually is, like a “twerk-lite” if you will.

Most claims to actual twerk fame are feeding us their interpretation of a dance that has been around for ages. We’ve seen “twerking” in African tribal dances, 90’s bounce music and in the Caribbean (known as the whine). The actual twerking, as seen from those cultures, is a lot more complex, involves way more hip, butt and leg action, and probably couldn’t be successfully pulled off without award winning lower body strength and an ass that won’t quit.

If the urge does come over you, as it does for me on occasion, to see twerking done right there are plenty of places to look (Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda”, Rihanna’s “Pour it Up” and if you’re feeling truly adventurous “Gal a Bubble” by the Jamaican artist Konshens).

I must warn you however, if all you’ve seen of twerking is college girls in their living rooms with the hash tag “twerk team” in the title of their youtube vid, then real twerking will scare you, and make you wonder if the human body really is capable of these contortionist acts. In any case it makes you realize that the self-given title as “queen of twerk” by one Miley Cyrus is probably given in haste. I admit Miley has some skills moving her hips but that ain’t twerking hun, I’ve seen twerking and that ain’t it.

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