10 Things That are Bad When Mexicans Do Them--But Cool When Hipsters Do the Same

Tell-tale sign of a hipster appropriating Mexican customs: That damn poncho!
Tell-tale sign of a hipster appropriating Mexican customs: That damn poncho!
Photo by Josue Rivas

The recent release of the latest pro-gentrification SanTana video got me thinking about society's double standards when it comes to hipsters and Mexicans. When Mexicans practice their customs and traditions, we get reviled, dismissed, and ridiculed--but the moment hipsters start doing the same, they become mainstreamed and accepted by gabacho culture.

I actually addressed this issue in my ¡Ask a Mexican! column back in 2013, when I wrote, "The hipsters who are already in [SanTana], meanwhile, adore their new barrio because of the low rents, older housing stock, 'authentic' experience and quaint neighbors, whom they'll call code enforcement on the minute the music is too loud on a Sunday morning or the corn in the front yard grows too high." But fear not, rest of the U.S.: the following trends also apply to your batch of hipsters. Happy Columbusing!

10. Keeping Chickens as Pets

A Rhode Island Red
A Rhode Island Red

In 2012, the SanTana City Council relaxed its rules on residents owning chickens at the urge of middle-class, return-to-the-earth gabachos. That came as news to the city's super-Mexican majority, which never knew there was a limit on owning chickens, roosters, or even the occasional pig. But, of course, their animal husbandry needs never mattered until the Slow Food set realized lawns are just a waste of space, and that chickens lay eggs on a nearly daily basis. Hell, I wrote about the benefits back in 2002--right before the New York Times and Los Angeles Times did their own trend pieces.

9. Piracy

This type of piracy is cool for all races, of course...
This type of piracy is cool for all races, of course...
Photo by Ed the Animal

Every Latino who grew up in Southern California during the 1980s and 1990s fondly remembers commercials for CDs that always ended with a quick, baritone "Diga no a la piratería" ("Say No to Piracy") urging us not to buy the latest Banda Machos album from the Paramount Swap Meet. And raids on Latino and Vietnamese stores throughout Orange County in that decade reinforced the idea that illegally downloading music and videos were against the law and immoral. Remember those quaint days? Try telling that to your average hipster, who grew up on their older brother's Napster, graduated to YouTube, and probably has never spent a cent on music that didn't come in vinyl.

8. Food Trucks

The hipsters come at night...
The hipsters come at night...
Photo by The Mexican

As recently as 2008, food trucks were still looked at nastily by even the most committed of foodies, long derided as roach coaches and worse. Then came the rise of Kogi BBQ, and the mainstreaming of food trucks--except hipsters will always strive to differentiate between luxe loncheras and what they call "old-school" (aka Mexican) ones. Never mind that both have to park in the same commissaries at the end of the night and be subject to the same regulations--anything Mexicans do is subject to rightful skepticism, you know?

  7. Quinceañeras

How long before artists start recreating this just because?
How long before artists start recreating this just because?
Wikimedia Commons

Okay, so quinceañeras--and especially the dresses--are still laughed at by hipsters, especially those who visit downtown SanTana and wonder why there are so many shops catering to that ceremony (maybe because there are far, far more teenage Mexican girls than hipsters, and there always will be?). But the moment it becomes ironic and cool to wear puffy dresses, or for men to dress like a chambelan, quinceañeras will suddenly become accepted and the subject of celebration by the likes of Amy Schumer, John Oliver, and whatever the fuck else hipsters consider their Walter Cronkite to be nowadays.

6. AirBnB

Fancy!
Fancy!
AirBnB host Eirk

Mexicans renting a spare room to a guest or 17 for extended periods of time? Old hat, and long hated by hipsters for leading to the cutting-up of historic houses to create apartments. Hipsters renting a spare room to a guest for extended periods of times, thereby leading to depleted housing stock, rising rents, and evictions of long-time tenants? Isn't AirBnB cool?

5. "Street Art"

Maybe a bit of Basquiat along with the Hering?
Maybe a bit of Basquiat along with the Hering?
Gracias, source!

I've got a good SanTana friend who calls the police when he sees so much as a felt marker touching a wall yet loves all the graffiti-inspired apolitical murals popping up in the downtown, differentiating that as "street art" even though it's mostly in the same style. Difference? One goes against the law, the other pretends to go against the law but is sanctioned by the art world and politicians alike. Or more importantly? One is done overwhelmingly by working class Mexicans; the other is poor little rich boys or the working class kids "saved" by poor little rich boys to effectively act as minstrels.

  4. Uber

In the early 2000s, OC politicians and law enforcement were all abuzz about raiteros: regular residents who charged people rates far cheaper than taxis to take them places. Police eventually cracked down on the phenomenon, especially in downtown SanTana, after much harrumphing from Know Nothings and taxi companies. Today? That phenomenon is called Uber, and its cars haunt downtown SanTana with no harassment whatsoever.

3. Sombreros

One more time, with feeling!
One more time, with feeling!
Photo by Benjamin Leatherman

Sombreros for generations of gabachos symbolized peonage, drunkenness, and stupidity, so is it any wonder why so many of them love to wear them nowadays? Of course, if a Mexican went around donning the massive hat in the public, everyone would think of him as a "Mexican"--but a gabacho does it, and they're just having "fun."

2. Barrios

Remember when the Yost was Mexican? We do
Remember when the Yost was Mexican? We do

Remember when SanTana represented all that was wrong and Mexican with Orange County? Well, people in South County still think that, but the past decade has seen a push by the hipsterati of SanTana as "cool" now that they've created a toehold in the city. Of course, lifelong santaneros have always considered their city to be chingón, but why didn't their opinions matter before? Because they're Mexicans.

And the most obvious trend that is bad when Mexicans do it but fine when hipsters do the same? You already guessed it...

  1. Día de los Muertos

Día de the Dead at its best: respectful
Día de the Dead at its best: respectful
OC Weekly archives

It has been amazing to see a holiday that historically was a low-key affair explode into the spectacle it is today. It's almost like the perfect holiday for hipsters to take over: it's colorful, involves death, allows people to dress up--and is Mex to the max. Happy Columbusing!

Email: garellano@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @gustavoarellano.

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