Hipster irony is almost too much to handle at times. Case in point? The recent drama surrounding a MIT Technology Review article.
The report, titled The Hipster Effect, explored the reasons why so many anti-conformists end up looking the same in their attempts to go against the grain. The lead image for the story featured a white, bearded man rocking a flannel and a beanie—your typical "hipster" dude. But there was one person who was down right angry with the publication's photo choice. Why? Because he was convinced the picture was of him.
"Your lack of basic journalistic ethics in both the manner in which you 'reported' this uncredited nonsense, and the slanderous, unnecessary use of my picture without permission demands a response, and I am, of course, pursuing legal action," the angry reader wrote to the Review.
But it turns out he wasn't the man featured in the photo, and his unwarranted outrage inadvertently proved the entire point of the Hipster Effect article.
Gideon Lichfield, the Review's editor-in-chief, spoke about this incident during a recent interview CBC Radio. He explained that he received the reader's complaint, he reached out to the art department to confirm they had the right to use the photo in question. The department reassured Lichfield they got the image from a reputable agency, and would take it down if it became too much of an issue.
"But our creative director said no, this was an image that we used with permission and perfectly in accordance with our rights. We shouldn't take it down just because somebody doesn't like it," the editor told CBC.
The creative director went on to contact Getty just to make sure the man in the photo signed a model release form. Getty reviewed their archives and confirmed everything was in order; however, they told the publication that the model in the photo didn't have the same name as the reader who threatened legal action.
The Review then reached out to the man, writing: "We don't think this is you." The reader's response? "Oh, I guess you're right, it's not."
"It doesn't surprise me that much," Lichfield said about the ordeal. "I think it says what the study says, which is that hipsters all look alike."