As we’ve read through several of the novels in this class, I have noticed the interesting use of language. Particularly, colloquial or “slang” language. The best examples of these have come from the novels The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Coming of Age in Mississippi. Since both novels were written around the same time, the language used is similar. However, it is how the language compares to that of today that intrigues me the most.
First, both novels make use of the word “cool.” Of all the words such as “groovy” and “hip,” it is interesting to see that this word is still used today. As seen through popular culture, as soon as people outside of the “in” community, usually adults or “the man,” use these words, they are considered “un cool” and drop from common use. The word “cool” has remained in popular use, however, and was considered both then and now to be an acceptable term for all.
The word “hipster,” however, has changed the most since it was used in the 1960s and 1970s. When Malcolm X used this term to refer to himself and those he associated with. It meant people who were cool and “with the times.” Here, it was the people who wore the sharp zoot suit and attended the dances held at various clubs. The meaning of this word has vastly changed in the 21st century. If you did a quick search of the internet, you would see the term “hipster” pop up in various places, and it is never usually used in a positive manner. Today, “hipsters” are people who wear the thick glasses, t-shirts with old cartoon characters on them, and listen to music that no one has ever heard of. They typically hate anything that is considered “main stream” which includes music, movies, and television. Due to their tendency to criticize the main stream media, they have generated much hate throughout the internet and out in the “real world.”
No, I did not feel that this would provide a good topic for discussion in class, but I felt it was an interesting point nonetheless. By reading through these books, we, as readers, are provided with a glimpse into a past most of us were not alive to witness. As English majors, we are able to point out small details like this and examine their uses through time. While both of these words remain in popular use, “cool” has retained its original use while “hipster” has taken on a completely different, and now negative, meaning.