Being safe, having good
values. Living a basic life and going to work every day is a goal to be
achieved for many people. But living a normal life did not attract some
individuals; which leads to the idea of creating their own way of life. Over
the years many ideas and movements have been established by a minority of
individuals who were tired and fed up with their boring daily lives. These
movements have changed the life of a lot of individuals during different times
and eras. In the 16th century, you had what they called Protestants. In the
18th century, you had anti monarchist in the U.K. In the 19th century, you had
abolitionists to end slavery. In the beginning of 20s, you had flappers. Around
the 1960s during the Vietnam War, you had Hippies. And some others, but the
thing about these movements that they don’t get famous and widely recognized
until after they establish their self as a part of the culture. The main goal
of these movements is to go against the society’s system and change their way
of life. Of course, not all of the movements seek the same goal because each
was in a unique different time with different people and cases.
The Hippie is one of the
most important movements that have spread throughout much of the Western world. Although the Hippie
movement did not last for long, the Hippie have resulted in one of the biggest
changes in America’s culture, and these changes have lasted to this day.
The Hippie counterculture
is not easy to be defined because “it included everyone, excluded no one, there
were no real Hippie lead-ers; no specific organization, no age limits or race
or gender requirements; no prerequisites” (The Hippies, p. 36). When you hear
the word Hippie you are probably thinking of a man with long hair and beard,
but in fact, this was not what it meant. What Hippie really aimed for is to
free people’s thinking, and the beard was just one of the things that you don’t
normally see in the street before that time. After the movement, people started
showing up with some weird styles to go against the ‘normal individual
looking’. Not to go against normal people, but to show that they could do
whatever they want to do. Joining the Hippie movement is much easier than what
you think. “One did not have to engage in any expected or determined
activities…” (The Hippies, p. 36). you don’t have to have a long hair to be
qualified there was simply no minimum requirement to join, everyone was just
free to do their own thing.
Sex, drugs, and music are
just some elements of the Hippie. “You take drugs, you turn up the music very
loud, you dance around, you build yourself a fantasy world where everything is
beautiful”. (The Hippies, p. 82). One of the famous drugs that were used during
the Hippie time is the LCD, in what they call it the ‘acid’ the acid has an
odorless drug with no color, and slightly a bitter taste. The Hippie had the idea that drugs will
change the world, to end wars and solve political problems. ” You wanted a
peaceful planet, uncluttered, simple life, and a will to move the human race
ahead” (The Hippies, p. 59). For Hippies the acid was the kay for their
collective vision of America as a clean country.
Another element is sex. The
sexual revolution in the 1960s resulted in a big shift in values that are
related to sex. Sex has become more acceptable outside the boundaries of
marriage and that helped with the spread of wild sexual behaviors. Referring to
these acts as ‘free love’ indeed sex has become one of the main characteristics
of the counterculture identity. They had places like The Haight where people
would sleep together in one room and you would often see 3 in one bed. From the scene, it seems that no women belong
to any man and no man belong to any particular woman. Many of the Hippie
gathered during what they call ‘the summer of love’ wearing Hippie fashion
dress and spreading weird behaviors.
Even though sex, drugs
and music “all three formed the symbolic tripod upon which the Hippie movement
rested” (The Hippies, p. 82). Music; rock was what become the most important
element of counterculture communication. Rock was not just a big deal for the Hippies,
it has affected a lot of young Americans till this day. “for our generation…
rock and roll is the great liberating force of our time, its most beautiful
aspect is that it gets to millions of people every day, telling them they can
dance and sing and scream and feel good even when they have to listen to all
those live commercial and death news reports” (The Hippies, p. 82). Reading
this sentence gives you a feeling of guiltiness. People were thinking that everything is going
to be alright as soon as they turn the music up and dance. Rock was indeed the culture of the sixties.
The Hippie’s philosophy
was a socio-cultural alternative to mainstream culture. They insisted on
spreading peace, love, and stopping wars. Living less materialistic life. Their
goal was not just to create a long party but they wanted a bigger society that
incorporated art, love, and life. “They hope that their celebration would not
only bring about mass revolatoution of consciousness but attract thousands of
more seekers to join their movement to help liberate Americans from themselves.”
(The Hippies, p. 119). The Hippies politic says that love should be towards everyone,
and hatred of what is hateful is as necessary.
Although, the Hippie
movement did not last for so long, it had left behind many inheritances that we still see to this day. One of the
biggest highlights during the Hippie was the music. The Woodstock festival that
took place in New York where over 500,000 people came to celebrate for 3
days. They came with nothing but peace
and to enjoy the music.
The Hippie made a lot of
protest calling for peace, love, and to end the war in Vietnam. “we want a
better world too, but we believe in doing it by spreading love and peace not
hate and violence like the politicos” (The Hippies, p. 160).
The Hippie was a great
movement but it didn’t last for long for many factors. One of the biggest
factors of its failure was the destruction of the Hippie’s capital, The Haight.
“On October 6, 1967 (the first anniversary of the California anti-LSD law).
Disillusioned Haight elders conducted a death of Hippie ceremony to announce
the end of the media-hyped summer of love” (The Hippies, p. 193). The media has
helped with destroying the Hippie movement by sharing the news of the
destruction of the Haight. California did not go against the movement for no
reason. It was reported that crime rate was in the increased especially during
the summer of love in the Haight Ashbury where 17 murders were reported and
over 100 rapes and 3,000 burglaries.
That leads to the next factor of the failing of the Hippie movement.
Which is crimes and drugs in the increase. Drugs were everywhere, causing mass
destruction wherever it goes. “Todd Gitlin criticized the Hippie movement for
its failure to confront the havoc of drugs” (The Hippies, p. 334), Gitlin
believed that the Hippie was causing a generation to strip itself naked.
Another reason that weakened the Hippie and helped with ending it was the
Manson murders, Altamont and Kent State. After this incident many Americans
started showing less interest in the counterculture which also leads many
members to leave the movement.
One of the most important
factors of the Hippie’s downfall is the end of the Vietnam War. During the war,
the Hippie was rapidly flourishing until it reached its best shape. Because
while drafting, war and the bad news were going on. Americans had no way to
escape but to go towards drugs and music. And as we know this is what the Hippie
movement really stands for. Therefore a lot of Americans moved towards the Hippie
as a relief from what they were going through.” Since the war was a real danger
to the lives of those who either volunteered or who were drafted to fight and
possible die. What is somewhat
perplexing, however, was that much of mid-to-late 1960s music reflected the
belief among the counterculture that American society and its institutions were
so intolerably oppressive that complete disavowal by ‘dropping out’ or escapism
with drugs or revolution, were the only ways to cope with such an afflicted
society and culture.” (The Hippies, p. 100).
Despite the huge number
of the Hippie members, many of them did not have the same way of thinking, they
had different goals and values, and they joined just so they can get benefits
and self-interests. These type of people often called ‘plastic Hippies’.
“Looking for free sex, free food, free dope, and free housing”. (The Hippies,
p. 169). Those plastic Hippies have misunderstood the real meaning of being a Hippie,
they don’t care, they take no responsibilities for their action and indeed they
were one of the factors of the Hippie movement downfall.
Moretta, John. The Hippies
A 1960s History.
North Carolina.: McFarland & Company Inc, 2017, Print.