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...
Bibliography: 1. Buchholz, Ted, ed. The National Experience: A History of the United States. New York, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers: 1993
2. Manning, Robert. The Vietnam Experience: A Nation Divided. Boston, Boston Publishing Company: 1984.
3. Thompson, Phoebe. The Flower Childern. New York, Prentice Hall: 1989
4. www.us.glamour.com .Michaels, Lisa. Making a fashion statement. Glamour Magazine (May 1998).Last visited 2-28-05
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