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NPR Arts & Life

All Hipsters Don't Look The Same, OK?

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Imagine a guy. You know the guy - flannel, plaid shirt, untucked, thick beard, a knit hat, drinking a cup of ethically sourced coffee. Twenty years ago, he was reading Foucault. Nowadays, he's listening to a podcast. You know this guy. Maybe you are this guy. And if so, we might call you, with affection, of course - kind of affection - a hipster. Well, this week, the MIT Technology Review published a photo of just such a be-flanneled, bearded person. It was at the top of an article about a new study out of Brandeis University about the so-called hipster effect, which looked at why all these countercultural rebels seem to have the same hat. Gideon Litchfield is editor-in-chief of MIT Technology Review, which published the article.

GIDEON LICHFIELD: What the study found, essentially, was that when a group of people decide to be different, to do something nonconforming, there comes a point when they all end up adopting the same behavior or the same style.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But the article with that image of the hipster at the top provoked a very angry response from one reader of the magazine.

LITCHFIELD: You used a heavily edited Getty Image of me for your recent bit of clickbait about why hipsters all look the same.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The man alleged that the photo the magazine chose to run of the bearded, plaid-shirted man was of him and that he did not give his consent. He even threatened legal action. So Litchfield and his team checked to make sure the model in the photo had signed a model release.

LITCHFIELD: They came back and said, actually, the guy who signed the model release does not have the same name as the guy who wrote to you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Oops.

LITCHFIELD: Wow. I stand corrected, I guess. I and multiple family members and a childhood friend, who pointed it out to me, thought it was a mildly photoshopped picture of me. I even had 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.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's right. This man, in a desperate attempt to separate himself from the article about hipsters all looking the same, confused himself with a stock image of a hipster. So the takeaway of this, of course, is that the study was right. And, indeed, all hipsters, I'm sorry to say, look the same. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.