Since the 20th century has ended, it’s become acceptable to “not be mainstream” – giving way to counter culture. It’s even commercialized; look at the prevalence of “Hippie” culture and the “normalization” of Gay Culture. And with the rise of the internet, it’s very easy for particular people of like-minded ideas and ideals to find each other and form clandestine communities that push forward their specific counter-cultural movements.
It’s tough to find large-scale movements that counter the normal culture because there isn’t a normal culture anymore. Yet that doesn’t mean there aren’t still many movements that break from the mainstream in very drastic ways. Hippie culture in the sixties was one of these movements. Learn how counter and hippie culture went hand in hand and how the movement is part of the other culture.
Firstly, How Can It Be Defined?
Counterculture arises from people who look around at the standard options that culture provides. People watch a bit further and guess at the overall quality of it, or where it is going, and say, “No thanks. I can do better!”. When enough people find each other around such a perspective, the “I” becomes a “We.” Slowly, they create their subculture, with its common values, customs, and symbols.
When this subculture comes to the awareness of the mainstream culture, then they call that “Counterculture.” The mainstream associates the counterculture with some stereotypes or distinguishing marks (a “brand”). Then mainstream people mistake those for defining features of the counterculture. So, buying a Harley and a denim jacket and some chaps and going out on weekends with your buds does not make you a member of a “biker subculture.”
Hippie Movement As A Counter Culture
The Hippie Movement was a period in the ’60s in which people, mainly younger folks, we’re trying to break away from society’s values that were being placed on them. They did this by protesting what they saw wrong with the world, including the Vietnam war. The movement began in San Francisco and spread across the United States.
Many hippies relocated to a certain area of San Francisco know as the Haight Ashbury District. The drug is a part of the hippie’s movement, marijuana is the most common drug of the decade and LSD. Dr. Timothy Leary, a Harvard professor, was notorious for his theories and encouragement of LSD. The Hippies also took the form of dropping out of society to enforce the changes they felt necessary. Peace became the ultimate message of the ’60s.
How Did The Hippie Counter Culture Face A Downfall?
The downfall started with the 1969 Altamont free concert in California took away from the “Hippie” spirit as much as Woodstock on the East Coast gave/added to the “Make Love/Not War movement. The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club provided security.
This was a common occurrence and still, work at events and venues today. The energy was wrong from the minute the gates opened and in the end, while The Rolling Stones were on stage- an incident that started benignly- ended with the stabbing death of Meredith Hunter. The era of Peace and Love was celebrated with Violence with Murder for an encore.
As for the romanticized nostalgia with the counterculture movement of the sixties, where young people hung out and wrote poems and sung songs in the park; that’s just a misconception.