While What’s Happening was one of the first shows that dealt with music industry piracy (remember when Rerun tried to tape and sell the Doobie Brothers concert?), it also was the pre-cursor to the hipster fad running rampant in our present-day. The O.G. innovator of true hipster fashion is surprisingly none other than the show’s lead character, Roger, or “Raj” as his peeps called him. Rain or snow, Raj pimped hipster gear proper and his genius fashion choices would have to wait 30+ years before it reached its iconic status hailed by youths nationwide.
From a far off viewpoint, Raj and the boys were more hip-hop than hip-ster, as their extracurricular activities definitely contradicted the true hipster mantra…hip-ocrisy, if you will. For example, the boys chose disco boogie over jamming out to Death Cab For Cutie or Bon Iver, and they gobbled burgers at Shirley’s Diner instead of drinking java while ‘netsurfing with MacBooks at the local coffee shop. That is unless you want to classify Shirley’s Diner as the first televised appearance of a “hipster joint”, which you really shouldn’t. However, lifestyle is not where Raj expressed his hipster innovation. Instead, he let his look walk the walk and talk the talk for him. Check it…
Tight jeans aka Peter Pan pants – check.
Buttoned up long sleeve with sweater over top – check
Chucks footwear – check
And the crème de la crème, Hipster glasses – Most definitely check!!!
Raj definitely exonerated chic on the outside, but was a bit of a tin man on the inside. No disrespect intended for the man, but how many high schoolers were either getting spanked by their moms or lived in utter fear of receiving a spanking by their moms? In fact, how many of the world’s coolest cats feared a behind beating so badly that they would allow themselves to be extorted on a daily basis. The prime example of this would be Raj getting quartered to death by his little snitch of a sister, Dee. Every time Raj would unintentionally get into a jam, there would be Dee to salt his hip-trocity faster than you can say Arcade Fire. And poor Raj would feed her quarters like a video game cabinet just to avoid the wrath of his mama’s hand. The whole spanking during your high school years is a bit weird, but in his defense, they didn’t have child protection services to protect his dairy aire back then. And that Dee…what an annoyance with her idol threats of “OOOOOHHHHH!!!! I’m tellin’ Mammmaaaa!” Ugh, what a communist! If YouTube was around back then, she’d frame him with video upload after video upload and ask him for $20’s instead of .25’s. Too bad he never manned up and punted her like a football, or waited for her to slip up and blackmail her into receiving his losses to her back twice fold.
So let us take this opportunity to celebrate the man whose style was hipster before hipster was cool and give it up for the Hip-sterical Roger, or Raj, of What’s Happening. Hey-hey-hey hipsters…meet your maker and inventor. And always remember: No Roger, No Rerun, No Rent…then no coffee shops, no Chucks, or no Pumped Up Kicks anthems either.