War Protest and Modern Music

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War Protests and Modern Music

The 1960s were years of war and social unrest in the United States due to the Vietnam War. It was also a time of rebellion, free love and radicalism. Musicians and the counterculture they created became a catalyst of opposition to the Vietnam War. With a war similar in diplomatic motivation and unbalanced power engrossing the United States again, modern musicians are faced with the same dilemmas and opportunities of musicians in the Vietnam era. The problem facing modern musicians is that by not successfully creating a counterculture, musicians have very little impact on the social opposition of the war in Iraq. Topics discussed will be musicians, language, communication and their relationship to counterculture in both the Vietnam War and Iraq war. Counterculture will be explained in depth as it is the basis of the thesis.

Counterculture is a sociological term used to describe a set of values and norms of a specific group or sub-culture. Countercultures are recognized as being an opposing view to the accepted rules and norms of a society. The counterculture movement in the Vietnam was started by the youth of America. With student numbers rapidly increasing, counterculture was most effectively developed on the campuses of universities and colleges. (Storey, 226) Universities and colleges were the most effective hosts of spreading counterculture and radical thinking. Student spread counterculture was due in part to student awareness of having their own group identity. This social concentration of likeminded students, much like workers in concentrated labor during early industrialization times, is what made youth culture aware of their potential social impact. (Roszak, 28) With the ability to have several tens of thousands of students grouped together to listen to a single message, counterculture grew and thrived upon youths at universities and colleges. Musicians took advantage of this social gathering to spread their messages through youthful rock music. Rock music was considered radical and non-conformant during the 1960s and 1970s, a feeling that this new counterculture of students could relate to. Free thinking students allowed the new music genre a chance to flourish throughout their counterculture. Although the student’s counterculture presented many unrealistic arguments for radical change it did bring serious problems and opposition to the war. (Storey, 226)

In modern times, students or youths in general are still considered the free thinkers but do not belong to a counterculture like in the Vietnam era. The sense of otherness is not strong within the student community for many reasons. The first reason I could draw upon is the lack of motivation for students to rebel. During the Vietnam era, youths rebelled against the war, partially because of a military draft. (Hammond, 35) Without a draft in the United States during the Iraq war, students have separated themselves from the notion of self preservation.

The other reason students are not involved in expanding counterculture is the lack of empathy for U.S enemies. Vietnam was different from other wars because of one thing, media reporting. Media reporters in Vietnam played the role of whistleblower against the United States military highlighting massacres like the mass murder of civilians in My Lai. Many students were shocked by these mass murders and “compared them to mass killings that had occurred at Dresden, Hiroshima and Lidice during World War II.” (Hammond, 190) This was the first war that had media involvement which indefinitely shocked U.S citizens to what was really occurring when their government went to war.

Modern American youths are exposed to similar reporting of war time atrocities, with civilian deaths reaching the hundreds of thousands in Iraq. (Karadsheh, 2) Due to what is known as desensitization, American youths appear not to be as emotionally affected as the youths of the Vietnam era. This...
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