Hippie counterculture Essay

This essay has a total of 2132 words and 9 pages.

hippie counterculture

The Hippie Counterculture
The Hippie Movement changed the politics and the culture in America in the 1960s. When the
nineteen fifties turned into the nineteen sixties, not much had changed, people were still
extremely patriotic, the society of America seemed to work together, and the youth of
America did not have much to worry about, except for how fast their car went or what kind
of outfit they should wear to the Prom. After 1963, things started to slowly change in how
America viewed its politics, culture, and social beliefs, and the group that was in charge
of this change seemed to be the youth of America. The Civil Rights Movement, President
Kennedy's death, new music, the birth control pill, the growing illegal drug market, and
the Vietnam War seemed to blend together to form a new counterculture in America, the
hippie.

Unlike the society before this movement, the hippie did not try to change America through
violence, the hippie tried to change things through peace and love. The Hippie Movement
was a moment during the mid 1960s through the early 1070s where sex, drugs and
Rock-n-Roll, was at the forefront of mainstream society. No one really knows the true
definition of a Hippie, but a formal definition describes the hippie as one who does not
conform to social standards, advocating a liberal attitude and lifestyle. Phoebe Thompson
wrote, "Being a hippie is a choice of philosophy. Hippies are generally antithetical to
structured hierarchies, such as church, government, and social castes. The ultimate goal
of the hippie movement is peace, attainable only through love and toleration of the earth
and each other. Finally, a hippie needs freedom, both physical freedom to experience life
and mental freeness to remain open-minded" (Thompson12-13). Many questions are asked when
trying to figure out how this movement reached so many of America's youth, and what
qualities defined a hippie as a hippie?

The nineteen fifties was a decade of prosperous times in America, but the average
lifestyle of an American seemed extremely dull. The average American conformed to social
norms, most Americans in the nineteen fifties dressed alike, talked the same way, and
seemed to have the same types of personality. Music is what started to change the
conformist lifestyle in America. Teenagers started to rebellion against their families by
listening to Rock-n-Roll, and watching Elvis Presley's sexy dance moves. "The music of
Elvis and other rock bands caused the rebellion; all the teens needed was a cause"
(Manning 32-34). The Rock-n-Roll movement in the nineteen fifties planted the seeds of the
Hippie Movement, but Kennedy's assassination, and the Vietnam War really is what sparked
this social change in America.

President Kennedy saw the Vietnam situation as America's fight to stop the spread of
communism. Kennedy, who was young and well liked by the American people, did not really
see much protest from the American people. He wanted equality in America, and supported
open-mindedness in his country; at his assassination in 1963 only 15,000 troops were in
Vietnam. His successor, Lyndon B. Johnson greatly increased the number of troops that went
to Vietnam, reaching 500,000 in 1966. Television allowed the American public to see what
these soldiers were facing and that this was a senseless war. Too many men were coming
home in American flag draped coffins, causing many Americans to rebel and move to the new
hippie counterculture.

‘The hippie movement germinated in San Francisco, with the Vietnam War at its core. The
movement eventually spread to the East Coast as well, centralized in New York's East
Village in addition to the Haight-Asbury district of San Francisco and Sunset Strip of Los
Angeles" (Buchholz 858). Many hippies were angry over the conformist lifestyle that
Americans were living in, and wanted to live how they wanted to live not how their
employer or television wanted them to live. Hippies also took a political stance against
the Vietnam War. "The Vietnam War conflicted directly with the hippie belief in peace and
love, so the counterculture protested the war throughout the nation. The flower children
held love-ins to celebrate their rights, spoke out publicly, formed protest groups with
the slogan: Hell no, we won't go!, burned flags, and tore up draft slips" (Buchholz 858).
Many hippies tried to avoid the draft; they did not believe that they should be forced to
fight in a war that they did not believe in. Many said that they were gay, or claimed that
they were insane just to stay away from Vietnam. Even though many members of the hippie's
families were being drafted they continued to protest, and many of these protests were at
America's colleges. "Protests began in Columbia University and Berkley University,
California. A demonstration against Nixon's decision to invade Cambodia led to violence at
Kent State University; the National Guard killed four students. Finally, the University of
Virginia, founded by America's forefather of freedom Thomas Jefferson, was raided by two
hundred baton-waving policemen who arrested sixty-eight students" (Thompson 66-8). The
greatest voice of the Hippie Movement was their music.

Rock and roll was their inspiration. "Led by Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson
Airplane, and the Beatles, rock and folk music overtook the airwaves"(Manning 102). At the
forefront of the musical change was Bob Dylan. "In a civil rights march in 1963, he sang
the following lyrics: How many years can some people exist before their allowed to be
free? The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind The answer is blowin' in the wind"
(Manning102). Folk music was not just music, it tried to instill change on the American
public, and convey the message that not everything is perfect in their society. "Existing
in harmony with folk music was rock, which adopted a style known as psychedelia, or mind
expansion. Rock's lyrics were less important, with the overall sound dominating as an
expression of the soul. And with many band members high on marijuana or LSD, hardcore acid
rock became a means of escaping the world-for both the band and the audience"
(Manning102-103). The most well known combination of Folk and Rock Music was at the
Woodstock concert in the summer of 1969. "Located in New York State, Woodstock the concert
was a three-day long event in which 400,000 people got high, had sex, and listened to some
very beautiful and psychedelic music. The roster included some of the most famous rock
bands on earth, as well talented amateurs looking for a start. An attendee described it
as: Three days of love, peace, and rock!" (Thompson 89). This concert stood for what the
hippie's were all about: sex, drugs, and Rock-n-Roll. It also jumpstarted the musical
changed of more drugged-up song lyrics of the nineteen seventies.
Continues for 5 more pages >>




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