Homeless, Hipster, or Redneck: A Guide to Distinguishing The Younger Generation

I remember as a teenager that my mother was often aghast and confused at the things I found fashionable.  This seemed especially true whenever one of those trends was a throw-back to something she had an association with from her own childhood.  When I went through a bohemian phase, I remember her asking me why I would want to dress like a hippie, the word hippie dripping off her tongue with the same contempt that one might use for the word pervert or cancer.  I remember rolling my eyes and wondering why my mom was so lame.


And yet, here I am in my mid-thirties, struggling with the growing feeling that young people and their fashion choices are confusing me.  I don’t want to be completely out of touch, so I still subscribe to the Urban Outfitters catalog.  Although, as I flip through it, I often find myself wondering if these clothes are for real, or meant to be some ironic joke.  Rompers?  Suspenders?  Paisley MC Hammer pants?  SO CONFUSED.

And yet, I saw something yesterday that went beyond confusing.  In fact, it disturbed me quite deeply.

I’m talking about the hipster mullet. 


The hipster mustache was already alarming to me, and the hipster beard has frequently made it difficult for me to distinguish between film students and homeless people.  There have been occasions where I’ve seen a guy with an overgrown beard and torn jeans and assumed he’s an indigent, only to observe a few minutes later that he’s listening to NPR on his iphone 4 and wearing Tom’s shoes.
If I’m honest, there was also an occasion where I saw a scruffy guy and thought he looked pretty hot in an artsy, rock-star way, only to watch him lay down on a cardboard pallet next to a shopping cart of his belongings.

IT’S CONFUSING.

And the hipster mullet . . . my brain just cannot compute a mullet resurgence.  My first sighting was during a documentary we were watching about an organic furniture craftsman.  He was young and stylish and good-looking . . . and he was rocking a mullet to rival Jeff Foxworthy circa 1989.  He lived in Portland, he was a vegan, and he had a tattooed girlfriend named Astrid.  The documentary was quite interesting and very artfully shot but all I could really think about during the next 90 minutes was OMG THE MULLET IS MAKING A COMEBACK, MY BRAIN MAY EXPLODE.

And should I even be calling it a comeback, as LL Cool J would say?  Can it really be in again if it was never really in to begin with?  I mean, clearly the younger generation is not holding the same collective association of the mullet with things like steel-toed boots, muddin’ trucks, homophobia, bad grammar, chewing tobacco, taxidermy, and blatant racism.

So, as an act of public service, I’ve created a simple flow-chart for non-hipsters to determined whether a man with a mullet is a hipster or a redneck.  Because you never know when you might be faced with a 20-something in a mullet, and need to know if you should inquire about his artistry with reclaimed wood or his […insert interesting topic that one could converse with rednecks about here…].

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