Sunday, June 24, 2012

On Counter Culture

I would like for everyone to take a moment of silence to mourn the passing of counter culture. We hardly had time to get to know it and may never have time to truly understand it. It gave us some of the greatest art of the past century and we will enjoy the memories for the rest of our lives and will weep for the generations to come that will never experience it first hand. Most people know the counter culture as the goths and emo kids, weird and pretentious artists that can never truly say what they stand for. The most common criticism concerns them trying to be different from everyone by looking the same as each other.

Either two emo girls or two emo boys. Or maybe it's an emo boy and-
you know what, forget it. It's just one emo kid.   Source

Most people never really tried to figure out what the source of this terrible, terrible fashion statement was. They would write them off as whiny teenagers and keep walking and, most of the time, this was true. But few realize that this trend was only the latest and most pathetic incarnation of a social deus ex machina: Counter-culture. Going back the generations, we have industrial, grunge, punk, metal, disco, hippies, all the way back to beatniks in the 50's. The former generation writes off the antics of the latter as them being rebellious teenagers, just like they used to be...but they forget why they rebelled in the first place.

In our society, there is always The Norm. This is the standard for with which society maintains equilibrium. The Norm can be as mercurial about certain things, but for the most part it stays somewhat the same. The counter culture arises when young people are exposed to the sucktacular nature of our society and try to buck it off. Of course, a single rebel is worthless. They look absurd and sound like a lunatic, speaking cultural heresies. They find themselves sad and alone, on the fringe of society. It's here that they find others like them. It doesn't occur to most people that rebels aren't trying to be different from everyone, they just want to be different from you.

Most especially you.     Source

They band together and piss everyone off around them, but manage to make some of the greatest art of any modern culture. Nirvana, Marylin Manson, Ozzy Osbourne, and The Beatles (their later work) are all in the same vein of our nations circulation, which is ironic, seeing that two of them aren't even American. The counter culture isn't limited to music, of course. Francis Ford Coppola, Andy Warhol, and Stanley Kubrick have shaped the art and movie communities, which worked with the music industry to influence our culture. They were all counter cultural in their day and have since become icons of a time and world long gone.

Of course, not all of the counter culture is counter cultural. There is a vast expanse of participants who don't give a damn about a cause or a purpose. As I said, this sub-culture is responsible for the greatest art this world has seen and that can be very lucrative. Indifferent people adopt fashion styles and musical tastes in a hope to be edgy and different and it doesn't matter to the merchants of these clothes what their customers believe. The lunatic fringe becomes a commercialized product, causing the crazies to either conform or risk being lost forever. The younger generation watches the previous sell out and create the next paradigm. This is how it has always been.

But the counter culture has fallen off the face of the earth and for the life of me, I can't figure out why. Every day, American bombs go off in Iraq and Afghanistan...and Somalia...and Yemen...and Pakistan. After a decade of war, literally nothing has been accomplished except alot of people have died. Society is in an unprecedented state of distress, with nationwide protests against the war, the 1%, and authoritarian legislation. The stage is set for music, film, and publications full of rage and passion, art that simultaneously decries war while calling for rebellion. Never has there been a wider gap between the ruling elite and the common man. But where the counter cultural movements have always been about sexual freedom, racial inequality, peace, and not a small helping of drugs, the hipsters are take a stand against not being pretentious. Drugs are involved, but only as long as they're ironic.

But maybe that's for the best. When the nation is a powder keg that's smoking cigars while shooting fireworks, maybe it's a good thing that nobody fans the flames of revolution.

This has just been some random thoughts by a casual observer. If you agree or disagree, that's your prerogative. These observations are casual and so I wouldn't be surprised to find them inaccurate and in the end, grossly off-topic. But they're my thoughts and it's boring to keep them to myself.

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