It's a running joke that male hipsters all look alike with their flannel shirts, thick beards, and other seemingly off-brand attributes. But a comical incident at MIT Technology Review might just prove that they all really do look alike after all.
The publication recently published an article on a study out of Brandeis University about the "hipster effect," which studied how nonconformists usually act unconventionally in the same way — to end up being exactly the same.
"What the study found essentially was that when a group of people decide to be different, to do something non-conforming, there comes a point when they all end up adopting the same behavior or the same style," Gideon Lichfield, editor-in-chief of MIT Technology Review, told NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro for Weekend Edition.
While the study itself proves this theory, so does accidentally thinking the edited photo at the top of the story — which featured a man in a plaid shirt with a beanie hat on — is of yourself, a fellow hipster.
Right after the article was published, MIT Technology Review promptly received an email from someone who claimed he was the man in the photo and hadn't given his consent. He accused the publication of slandering him and threatened legal action, writing:
"You used a heavily edited Getty image of me for your recent bit of click-bait about why hipsters all look the same. It's a poorly written and insulting article and somewhat ironically about five years too late to be as desperately relevant as it is attempting to be. By using a tired cultural trope to try to spruce up an otherwise disturbing study. Your lack of basic journalistic ethics and 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."
Lichfield and his team quickly checked to see if the model in the photo signed a model release. They contacted Getty Images, which found that the person who signed the model release was not the person who wrote the angry email.
After the misunderstanding was cleared up, the man responded by saying to Getty Images, "Wow, I stand corrected I guess. I and multiple family members, and a childhood friend pointed it out to me, thought it was a mildly photo-shopped picture of me. I even have 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."
Lichfield tweeted this scenario, and wrote that the incident "just proves the story we ran: Hipsters look so much alike that they can't even tell themselves apart from each other."
A few days ago we ran a piece in @techreview about some research purporting to explain the "hipster effect"—the fact that nonconformists often end up nonconforming in the same way. We used a stock Getty photo of a hipster-ish-looking man. https://t.co/8LB6qLSmgS— Gideon Lichfield (@glichfield) March 6, 2019
We promptly got a furious email from a man who said he was the guy in the photo. He accused us of slandering him, presumably by implying he was a hipster, and of using the pic without his permission. (He wasn't too complimentary about the story, either.)— Gideon Lichfield (@glichfield) March 6, 2019
Eric contacted Getty Images. Getty looked in their archive for the model release. And came back to us with the surprising news: the model's name wasn't the name of our angry hipster-hater.— Gideon Lichfield (@glichfield) March 6, 2019