Friday, November 9, 2012
Not the Sixties that you think you knew already
I detest the sixties. Actually, I adore the sixties. No, I hate them. Actually, I wasn't even there in the first place, so I guess it's most precise to say I both hate and love a muddled compilation of images of the sixties, alike only in that they're all fake and made-up.
Among a sea of individual versions of the sixties, I'm influenced in my opinions by the sixties imagined in my own mind, the sixties desperately clung to and forced upon me by middle-aged burnouts and sellouts, and the sixties of inaccessible historical facts.
What I detest most about the sixties is that it's the decade that gave birth to the hippie, a cultural type that is still living and reeking among us today. More specifically, I don't hate individual hippies so much as I loathe the finicky type of rebuff fundamental to the hippie worldview. In hippie creed, the watered-down strains of several misunderstood philosophies - bastardized Eastern religions, socialist utopian assertions, whitewashed peace dogmas and psychedelic music - are merged, made fuzzy by the smoke of cheap pot, made difficult by a foundation in bottomless concession, and all hardened into a kind of self-serving and willfully puerile theory and practice.
When I think of the sixties with anger, I imagine a massive percentage of young white America thinking and acting informed by this simplistic and narcissistic worldview. What charms me about the sixties, though, is the downbeat image of that shiny, happy rejection, the gloomy and chaotic unending bummer that this deplorable scrim of self-delusion has got to be hiding.
I don't even need solid experience of the time to know that it was a profoundly messed-up, confusing one - I need only refer to the aforementioned historical data: the Cuban missile crisis, the war in Vietnam, the genocide in Cambodia, the murder of a popular President, the murder of a even more popular civil rights icon. And the presence of more American young people than ever before, young people who had to deal with the sterilized bullshit of the fifties crumbling to flimsy pieces underneath them.
So screw those dancing bellbottoms, screw those polka dotted skirts, screw those long beards and hippie hairdos, screw those druggy flowers in hair, and screw contemporary media's cheesy nostalgic theme park packaged version of the sixties that later kids like me have come to accept as our primary image of that whole decade. It's time to do your own 60s homework now!