For millennials, being a hipster has become this sort of inner id we all deal with. Most millennials are overly ironic, and the hipster has become this sort of projected image that we use to deal with things we want to say aloud, but fear some sort of backlash or pigeon-holing from saying exactly what we mean. The "hipster" is a cultural enigma that has grown up with the millennials and created a sort of protective shield over who we are, even becoming who we are.
In short, the hipster is a projection.
The idea of the hipster is ambiguous and open to many different interpretations, just like a millennial. Nothing is black and white, and it is all subject to change without rhyme or reason. Getting a job, losing a job, living at home again, staying in college indefinitely, having no definitive line in the sand drawn; this is the reality we project on the hipster. We ironically mock hipsters, even while we know we like them.
Take a look at the state of our generation. There is so much to fix in the world, and the hipster becomes this outlet. A recent article from NPR looked at Urban Outfitters (some would argue America’s Build-Your-Own-Hipster store, but a hipster would never go there) and a line of Mitt Romney t-shirts that have come out. The shirts ironically glorify Mitt and turn his business-man approach to politics into something likeable. It’s the sort of battle no one can win or lose.
The hipster projection makes anything accessible because it is saying something real, but hiding it in irony. So anything can go either way. A Mitt Romney shirt that looks like a Kiss concert poster does not say that you like Mitt Romney, it says that you ironically “support” him because you are clearly liberal. Or, it says that you do support him and are tying the image of the classical businessman to the cool culture of rock n’ roll or turning him into some sort of ironic counter-culture symbol. So many people are liberal, I’ll be brazenly conservative.
The Mitt Romney shirt says, “I love Mitt Romney but you know I will really vote for Obama even though I might really vote for Romney as a statement that hope is dead even though I really believe in hope.” It’s not about Mitt becoming “in” with the millennials, it’s about whether you think I think Mitt is in and no matter what, we’re both right because who can really say what’s "in" anymore. This is in essence, the hipster id.
It is a shirt steeped in contradictions that isn’t even sure what it is itself. It just is; like a hipster. Or like a millennial calling everyone else a hipster, knowing they are a hipster to other people even though they are not a hipster, because, well, what is a hipster?
A person wearing a “Vote for Mitt Romney” campaign shirt distributed by the Mitt Romney campaign is seen as a dinosaur conservative; a corporate square that supports the corporate square Mitt Romney. But, someone wearing a “2 Legit 2 Mitt” shirt could be an unapologetic conservative, could be an ironic conservative who should be clearly liberal, or could be someone who doesn’t care about politics at all.
This is what being a millennial has become all about.
It is all so ambiguous and ironic that anything could be the case. So I would argue that being a “hipster” is not really a subculture or a counter-culture, it is not a persona, it is simply a name given to a mentality or a rough image of who many millennials are on the inside: Ambiguous, open to interpretation, un-apologetic, un-defined, and in denial about it all, while being ironically sure of it.
Hipsters have become an image to market to ((insert item here) for hipsters) and something tangible and definable while escaping any sort of real definition (although Wikipedia comes close); not quite social movement, no ego, just self-aware, self deprecating, and self-manufactured by calling out everyone else as “a hipster.”