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August 14, 2009 2:11 PM   Subscribe

"Aberrant behavior had nothing to do with wearing love beads (59%), believing in Flower Power (64%), going to a "Be-In" (58%), or flashing the peace sign to complete strangers (81%) -- maybe only a sublime silliness..." -- Rex Weiner
"Forty years after the summer of '69, when a three-day festival of Peace, Love and Music in a muddy New York State pasture celebrated youthful ideals, isn't it high time we Americans face the truth that the ideals of the Woodstock Generation -- ideals once widely mocked, attacked and officially repressed -- have pretty much won the day? ...

"The truly aberrant behavior belonged to their tormentors, those flag-waving ranks of ideologues, staunch segregationists, rabid commie-hunters and free-speech-smothering censors, bent on preserving their own quaint period of privilege, even if it meant radical measures. They were the un-Americans, the subversives undermining the principles that make America great, refusing to rise to the challenges set forth by our elite, long-haired Founding Fathers...."
posted by Twang (24 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
isn't it high time we Americans face the truth that the ideals of the Woodstock Generation -- ideals once widely mocked, attacked and officially repressed -- have pretty much won the day? ...


I wish.
posted by The Whelk at 2:14 PM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


And here's the Weiner article the quote came from!
posted by Twang at 2:15 PM on August 14, 2009


I swear it happened just like this
A sigh, a cry a hungry kiss
The gates of love, they budged an inch
I can't say much has happened since

-Leonard Cohen

For me, this quatrain sums up Woodstock and the 60's. it was just another uniform, but make no mistake, it WAS and uniform, and the modes of behavior were as staid and strict as those of any other kind of uniform.
posted by Danf at 2:38 PM on August 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


The guy might have a point. The Leave It To Beaver lifestyle that the Boomers grew up in and rebelled against is now more or less vanished. If I were to see a family looking like that today -- nuclear family, dad wearing a shirt and tie, mom in heels and pearls, little Johnny in his white button-down shirt, little Sally in a dress and pig-tails -- I would guess them to be religious extremists. I might be wildly wrong, of course.

I am sure there is an argument to be made that extramarital sex, non-heteronormative couples and casual drug use are accepted by the mainstream now in a way that would have shocked our grandparents (I speak as a gen-X type, so my grandparents were all born around the First World War -- YGMV). It makes me wonder occasionally what our grandchildren will accept as given that will scandalize us.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:43 PM on August 14, 2009


For me, this quatrain sums up Woodstock and the 60's. it was just another uniform, but make no mistake, it WAS and uniform, and the modes of behavior were as staid and strict as those of any other kind of uniform.

Really, I mean I know this is the kind of thing that sounds good. But really? Two random Woodstock attendees looked and acted as much alike as two soldiers or cops in uniform?
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:44 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


It makes me wonder occasionally what our grandchildren will accept as given that will scandalize us.


They already found it and it involves promise rings and awful music and not cursing and trusting that the President (if he's a "real" god-fearing republican) is always right.
posted by The Whelk at 2:46 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Average teen would not think "love beads" have anything to do with 60's.
posted by smackfu at 2:47 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


isn't it high time we Americans face the truth that the ideals of the Woodstock Generation -- ideals once widely mocked, attacked and officially repressed -- have pretty much won the day? ...

I wish.


To the degree it hasn't, thanks god. "Oh, man, this college course is like not relevant, man."

"What if they gave a war and nobody came?"

...the sentiments of naiive sixteen-year-olds who, just like kids that age nowadays, were convinced that they'd finally figured everything out and their parents were stupid. Then the boomers grew up and turned into their parents with more money and shinier toys. Please stop this meme of "for a golden shining moment, we were all idealistic and had a chance to attain peace and love." You were young, naiive, obnoxious, and stupid, and war, greed, and murder still exists. At your own hands, by the way (GWB).
posted by Turtles all the way down at 3:04 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Really? I mean, if the hippie ideals had won... if they had actually managed to tip the balance so that love was the way we interacted, kindness was our daily approach, freedom was truly respected, and the order of the day was that we all pitch in to make sure everyone has their shit covered before we start grabbing for our own selfish needs... well, we wouldn't be in the midst of a health care reform bullshit shout-storm, would we?

I long all the time to see "the age of aquarius" realized. But I'm mature enough to realize, it's going to be a much longer fight than anyone may have foreseen.
posted by hippybear at 3:06 PM on August 14, 2009


isn't it high time we Americans face the truth that the ideals of the Woodstock Generation -- ideals once widely mocked, attacked and officially repressed -- have pretty much won the day? ...


I wish.


Yeah, that's a pretty silly statement, we haven't even got legalized pot much less LSD. And the standards of acceptance for extreme behavior are WAY down from what hippies were (at least theoretically) OK with. Basically it looks to me like we have returned to the pre-sixties over-all values while making exceptions for some borderline behaviors like drug use, which are very much only conditionally OK (not legal, not in public). For the most part the country is made up of the same kind of job-seeking, car driving, consumer culture that it was in 1955. We are no more politically aware of and certainly no more liberal. The hippie ideal or seeking an alternative to the norm lifestyle is generally laughed at. What passes for counter-culture at this point is arguably mostly marketing. We don't even have free healthcare, free clinics and soup kitchens where hippy/digger mainstays.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:11 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: I might be wildly wrong, of course.
posted by The Tensor at 3:14 PM on August 14, 2009


There was a nice article in the Smithsonian about the couple in the famous shot of the two kids wrapped in a blanket early in the morning. Turns out they were just two local kids, and they're still together. I usually cringe when I read about how loving and creative and fabulous everyone was in 1969; the Smithsonian article was a good antidote to that.

Reading about our "elite long-haired founding fathers" brings back the cringe-factor, and I'm not sure at all how "Woodstock values" won the day. Last I checked, we're still bombing rural villages in remote parts of the world on behalf of sketchy friends.
posted by kanewai at 3:29 PM on August 14, 2009


Let me fix that link.
posted by kanewai at 3:31 PM on August 14, 2009


Two random Woodstock attendees looked and acted as much alike as two soldiers or cops in uniform?

Yes.

I was not there, but I, um, participated in that period as much as the next person, and, yeah, I stand by what I said.

As a generation, *we* had a chance to actually do something, but it segued into haze of drugs, sloth (intellectual, physical and spiritual) and the pressure to act in certain ways.
posted by Danf at 3:39 PM on August 14, 2009


I think several people here are defining both the 50's and the values of the 60's way too narrowly. Here's just a brief list of things that the 60's gave us that we take for granted today:

- Legalized racial segregation no longer exists.
- It is taken as a given that racism is a bad thing.
- Interracial couples can get married in every state in the union.
- The vast majority of Americans agree that interracial marriage is perfectly fine.
- A child born of one such interracial marriage is currently sitting in the Oval Office.
- There is such a thing as affirmative action, and despite decades of conservative complaints, roughly half of Americans still think it's a good thing.
- Most people consider it perfectly normal and okay to have sex before marriage.
- Most people consider it perfectly normal and okay to live together before marriage.
- Rape is widely considered to be a bad thing, the fault of the rapist rather than the victim, and something that should be talked about and taken seriously.
- Medical marijuana is legal in California.
- A majority of Americans think homosexuality should be considered "an acceptable alternative lifestyle." (Gallup's wording, not mine.)
- Roughly half of Americans think that homosexuality is not morally bad.
- The vast majority of Americans think that job discrimination against gay people is bad, and that gays should be protected from hate crimes.
- The concept of a hate crime exists, and is considered a bad thing.
- A plurality of Americans (roughly 40%) believe that same-sex should be able to get married.
- Same-sex couples can get married in five different states.
- We are actually having a national conversation on the subject of gay marriage.

No, we haven't abolished war, consumerism, or greed. No, we're not all living in communes. But Jesus Christ, people, a little perspective. Consider what mainstream thought on all those issues were in the 1950's and then tell me again how the 60's changed nothing.
posted by Anyamatopoeia at 3:57 PM on August 14, 2009 [7 favorites]


Oops, I meant "A plurality of Americans (roughly 40%) believe that same-sex couples should be able to get married."
posted by Anyamatopoeia at 3:58 PM on August 14, 2009


I can't believe I forgot these obvious ones:

- Abortion is legal.
- Roughly half of Americans (at least) believe it should stay that way.
- It is taken as a given that women should be allowed to work outside the home if they so choose.

I could go on all day with this. Virtually all the things on this list were radical counter-culture notions, espoused pretty much exclusively by the same people we now denigrate as hippies who accomplished nothing. It's a measure of their success that we now take all these things for granted.
posted by Anyamatopoeia at 4:10 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyamatopoeia, aren't you committing a similar error by attributing everything to the 1960's?

The Civil Rights struggle started long before the 1960's. The 1960's did not "give us" desegregation or affirmative action. My grandmother, who worked for civil rights, even talked about being the TARGET of student protests because she worked under Johnson.


I associate the main wave of feminism with the 1970's.

Stonewall happened in 1969, but gay rights went mainstream in the 1980's and 90's.

Yes, we made progress towards equality in 1967 and 1969. As we did in 1955 and 1897 and 1990.

And coming from a family of activists and even commies (at least on one side), I'm pretty sure that "mainstream thought" pre-1960 was much more dynamic than we usually give credit for.
posted by kanewai at 4:15 PM on August 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Virtually all the things on this list were radical counter-culture notions, espoused pretty much exclusively by the same people we now denigrate as hippies who accomplished nothing. It's a measure of their success that we now take all these things for granted.

Ammend "take for granted" with "work fucking hard to make sure they don't get taken away." then I can agree. There was a very profound swing to the right following the 60s and they've been working night and day, tooth and claw, to get away any scrap of progressive legislation and making sure they get applause and blank checks for doing so. Hell, they managed to take our entire economic system back to the 60s, the 1860s. The only thing that'll turn people against them is if they start locking up white people in debtors prisons, and then only if they're cute.
posted by The Whelk at 4:19 PM on August 14, 2009


"to take away any scrap.."
posted by The Whelk at 4:21 PM on August 14, 2009


Stonewall happened in 1969, but gay rights went mainstream in the 1980's and 90's.

Please do not overlook the important work of Harry Hay and the Mattachine Society, which was formed in 1950. Groundwork was laid then which led to gays even coming out of their houses into bars such as the Stonewall. And his hand is much more directly witnessed today in the many Radical Faerie groups which exist. (Which continue to live the Sixties hippie ideal even today.)
posted by hippybear at 4:25 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


This cover from Funny Times sez something about this.

I was recently wondering whether there was really a chance back then for major structural change. The Taibbi article sort of pulled the curtain back on this.

However, I find that on the people level, rather than the institutional, there are new modes of relationships that would've been beyond the comprehension of previous generations. And that makes me glad I'm living now, and not before then.
posted by dragonsi55 at 5:25 PM on August 14, 2009


No worries hippybear - I knew about Mattachine et al. I was just trying to keep the post short, so cut out a lot.
posted by kanewai at 6:01 PM on August 14, 2009


Let's not forget yoga and the various other "eastern" philosophies that have more or less become mainstream. But won the day? I think not.
posted by mike_bling at 6:03 PM on August 15, 2009


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