There is a war being waged in this country. Not against terror, or immigration, or even the environment — this war dwarfs all of these problems. The war I speak of is the war to determine our legacy as millennials; Will we be remembered as the generation of hipsters or of bros?
We all know a hipster when we spot one. They wear thick-framed glasses, scarves designed for fashion instead of warmth, ironic T-shirts, and skinny jeans — even and especially for guys. Bros similarly have a dress code: polo shirts or lacrosse pinnies, Ray Bans, baseball caps worn backwards, and Sperrys. A hipster’s drink of choice is a fancy coffee, while a bro’s is a beer. Hipsters delight in indie bands and poetry, while bros play lacrosse and party. The stereotypes are undeniable and unavoidable. They incite memes and online “bibles” dedicated to maintaining their stereotypical lifestyle.
Hipsterdom centers on the sense of superiority gained from returning to the customs of decades past — like bicycles, typewriters, and chunky knit sweaters. Bro culture seems in many ways to be at the opposite side of the spectrum as hipsters. While hipsters care deeply about politics, culture, and environmentalism, bros have more superficial joys — alcohol, sports, and parties. Both include a perceived self-centeredness and smugness that some believe is inherent to our generation. Hipsters gain satisfaction from being the first of their peers to “discover” a band or trend, while bros prioritize having a good time with their friends over more charitable pursuits.
But can we really claim the hipster movement as our own? Hipsters borrow greatly from their preceding generations: environmentalism from the 1960s, fashion from the 1990s, and ironic grandpa sweaters from whenever some 70-year-old dumped them off at Goodwill. In fact, your dad was probably a hipster before you were. Then again, the bro culture isn’t exactly new either; Time dates the first bro back to 43 B.C. And the concept of partying and drinking in excess goes back to Ancient Rome, although its current manifestations appear new.
Both of these lifestyles seem to stem from college. Where else would you have the opportunity to discover obscure authors and wear grungy vintage duds? And where else would you have the ability to party and play sports daily and not be judged for your laziness? Older bros and hipsters do exist, but they are looked upon with disapproval; these labels are seen as temporary phases to pass through on one’s way to becoming a responsible adult. While bros and hipsters are vastly different, the trajectories of their cultures are similar. Both are lifestyles reminiscent of the past and are looked down upon by people from older generations. They are labels easy to make fun of and difficult to assign to oneself. Could one movement really exist in its current state without having the other to contrast it with? The relationship between hipsters and bros is a symbiotic one.
As instated by their very name, bros cannot be women. Women cannot be bros. How can our legacy claim a stereotype that does not apply to at least half of the generation? Hipsterdom spans genders. If you don’t believe me, imagine a typical hipster outfit — it can work for a male or a female, can it not? The hipster culture is also easier to transition between ages; you can be a hipster in high school and a hipster in your 30s. People even joke about raising hipster babies by giving them quirky names and copycat clothing. On the other hand, promoting bro-like qualities in your baby is unheard of. Based on these assertions, I posit that while the bro culture is closely associated with the college years, hipsterdom is a lifestyle that can be respectably continued later in life, expanding its longevity and making it the fad lifestyle future generations will assign to millennials.