Summary Essay (and a reflection of what I’ve learnt)

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The Hippies originated as a youth movement in the United States of America in the 1960s and gradually evolve into the subculture it is today. I have selected to study the Hippies because I am intrigued by the values that they espouse that oppose the society I live in, and I am also attracted by their style (demeanor, image and argot) that is so different from mainstream culture.

According to Merton’s Deviance Typology, the Hippies would fall under the “Retreatism” category because they reject the institutionalized means to obtain goods and even reject the very cultural goods consumed by the mainstream society. Occasionally, they fall under the “Rebellion” category where they invent new cultural goods such as the organic and environmentally friendly products. Many also share their resources with others, thereby inventing new means of obtaining these goods.

The typical characteristic physical stylistic features include long, unkempt hair and colourful tie-dyed clothing and these make up the image component of the concept of style, the other two being demeanor and argot. According to Willis (1978), the hippie culture and style represents a “cerebral critique of bourgeois ideology”. It was the Hippies in a sense, trying to resolve their parent culture of uncritical subscription and consumption of mainstream culture and exploitative, profit-focused nature of the capitalist world.

Clarke describes subcultural commodification that involves two processes, diffusion and defusion. Diffusion refers to “the spread of subcultural style beyond the specific locality in which it was created”. In my example of the article from Vogue magazine (Germany), defusion occurred when the beauty editors took what was characteristic of the Hippies and that conveyed a message of resistance and rebellion, to become a commodity without meaning in the mainstream and/or high fashion. Fine and Kleinman talk about adaptation and modification, along with commodification and purpose of profit maximization and these are demonstrated here. As Patrick Williams puts it, in his book ‘Subcultural Theory”, “diffusing style also defuses it, rendering it relatively harmless (or meaningless) to the mainstream and thus acceptable for mass commodification.

The Hippie women also display a form of resistance in their rejection of emphasized femininity (Roman, 1988) through the rejection of bras, drug abuse that oppose the mainstream society’s perception of what women should be like; “clean and pure”, and the refusal to shave or remove body hair. These methods of resistance also link to issues of gender and society’s normative standards of femininity.

The movie “Taking Woodstock” explores the meso-level of society as the main character finds friends among the Hippies, negotiates relations and conflicts with his family and deals with his sexuality.

With the concepts of fandom, I talked about the Grateful Dead who are a popular band among the Hippies and their fan base. These fans, known as “Deadheads”, not only consume the merchandise related to the Grateful Dead but also create their own fan art and products, thus negating the notion that fans are only simple-mindedly consuming the goods and services produced in their subculture.

There is a contention of what makes a “real” Hippie. Is it the one who holds values close to what the Hippies are known for, or is it the one who dresses in the appropriate attire and consumes the right products? Opposing groups could all have a substantial number of supporters or people who agree upon and thus legitimize a particular set of characteristics which they think makes a “real’ Hippie, which group is right then? The debate goes on.

The systematic and organized manner in the concepts and theories in this course were taught, as well as how I was tasked to apply them to my selected subcultural group has given me a better understanding of how they can be used. It is crucial to keep in mind that these concepts and theories that I have learnt are not only applicable to the Hippies, but also to other subcultures (as evident in what my fellow course mates have done). This course has provided me with the tools and ability to look at subcultures in general and understand why and how they exist. It has also taught me the awareness and importance of being tolerant towards them.


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Deadheads

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The Grateful Dead are a popular band among Hippies and fans of the band call themselves “Deadheads”. They were according to many, the “first among equals in giving unselfishly of themselves to hippie culture, performing ‘more free concerts than any band in the history of music’ (Garofalo)

I have selected pictures of the merchandise related to the Grateful Dead as well as fan art. I would like to use this post to discuss how the terms “antisocial”, simple-minded, and obsessive could be a misrepresentation of fans in general, and of Deadheads, specifically.

“The aesthetic of fan art celebrates creative use of already circulating discourses and images, an art of evoking and regulating the heteroglossia of television culture” (Jenkins, Henry, 1992) This sentence can be applied to the music culture of the Deadheads as I look at the intricated details of the fan art.

When browsing through the internet for fan made goods related to the band, I came across fairly complex systems of sharing of these products. The fan art were available for download for free. Thus indeed, “fandom generates systems of distribution that reject profit and broaden access to its creative works (Jenkins, Henry, 1992).

I also came across many forums and chats whereby fans are able to interact with each other, and many seem already familiar with each other, thus leading to the assumption that there are sustained relations among themselves. This occurred despite the presence of traditional boundaries of physical distance or space. In other words, “fans have found the very forces that work to isolate us from each other to be the ideal foundation for creating connections across traditional boundaries… creating a more participatory culture”.

Fandom also allows a space or outlet for which individual or collective concerns over specific issues can be brought up, discussed and debated over. This allows for reflexive thinking. Fandom thus contains both positive and negative forms of empowerment, “its institutions allow the expression both of what fans are struggling against and what they are struggling for; its cultural products articulate the fans’ frustrations with their daily life as well as their fascination with representations that pose alternatives”.

Thus, we can see how fandom is not just a simple-minded, anti-social obsession. In contrast, it encourages reflexive and creative thinking and allows for the building of alternative social networks than the ones already existing in the fans’ lives, these relations are ones which cross the boundaries of time and space.

Scales: The meso-level

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In this week’s item on the subject of “scales”, I have chosen to use the movie “Taking Woodstock”. I could not find any link to the movie to post up here, but here is a synopsis of the movie taken from Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taking_Woodstock

There are broadly three scales in which social scientists have used to study social life: the micro, meso and macro. As we have learnt in class and from the text “Subcultural Theory”, “The meso-scale refers to webs of social networks, value- and belief-orientations, and practices which result from sustained interaction among people and which link subcultures to broader social processes and structures.” (Patrick Williams)

Here, in this movie, we see the contentions brought up as well as the impact of the Hippie culture on the general public on a meso-level, and on the main character, Elliot, on a micro-level. As mentioned in “Subcultural Theory”, neither the individual’s experience or the political economy of the society is of importance in the study of a subject at the meso-level. Rather, we focus on the sustained social relations between people and through this movie, I see how the concept of masculinity has been broached through the example of Elliot struggling to cope with the reactions toward his being homosexual and facing criticism regarding sexuality.

As we have learnt, “the meso-scale is constituted through social objects, including non-material culture (norms, values, beliefs), material culture (art, clothing, other symbols and artifacts) and patterned practices (rituals, customs).” The Hippie culture as demonstrated in the movie clashes with the culture of mainstream society, but thus acts as a comforting zone for Elliot to explore and come to a conclusion about his sexuality and masculinity. This movie explores the family, friends, and other aspects of Elliot’s daily life, which make up the meso-level of society.

“These social objects accrete, becoming a social order that acts back on individual actors by shaping social interactions and patterns of cultural significance.” (Maines 1982) The norms and beliefs of the Hippie culture, which in a loose sense is the value of freedom, peace and equality, accentuated and expressed through their stylistic elements such as their long, unkempt hair and tie-dyed clothing, along with their ritual at the Woodstock Festival, all have an impact on Elliot as they shape his interactions with the others who attended the Woodstock Festival. They give him a sense of belonging in a group, broaden his perspective and experience with different cultures as he encounters a group of people, a subculture, who have values and beliefs so different from the environment he was brought up in. And Elliot is able to cope with his sexuality and issues of masculinity through the new culture he is exposed to. Thus, we see the importance of cultural significance.

“Hippycrites”: What Makes An “Authentic” Hippie

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A blog entry about “hippycrites”

“The new-age hippies or hippycrites are a far cry from the real hippies of the 1960s.” It is evident here, according to this blogger, that there is a distinction between groups of hippies; some being “real” or “authentic” and the others possibly being fake/false, or as he terms it, “hippycrites”. This is obviously a play on the words “hippie” and “hypocrite”, suggesting that these people who call themselves hippies do not practice what they preach, and are thus hypocrites.

The blogger seems to have an issue with this new generation of hippies whom he feels are only interested in the appearances and superficial aspects of being a hippie, “Look. I know you think it’s cool to wear your hair in dreads, listen to reggae music, smoke pot, not bathe, wear Birkenstocks and hemp-woven sandals, panhandle, etc.”.

He believes that “The movement (of the 1960s) was not just a fad to real hippies. It wasn’t a fashion statement. It wasn’t something that people did just so they could say, “We’re better than you because we shop at Whole Foods and are active in our community and we ride bikes to spare the environment from greenhouse gas emissions.”

I get the message that he is also upset with this generation of hippies because he feels that they are snobbish and look down on people, like himself, which is a hypocritical act in his eyes, as a hippie’s main mottos are to basically accept all kinds of people, be open to every possible idea, and to participate in saving the environment while using easily sustainable means.

Thus this blogger claims “…I won’t sit down and try to have an intelligent conversation with you smelly, super-tight-jeans-cut-like-capris-wearing, Whole Foods-eating snobs who think that, because you get buttloads of money from your parents to go to Tulane, you are better than me.” He seems to insinuate that by receiving “buttloads of money” from their parents, these hippies were hypocritical. An interesting thing which I have observed however, is that he refers to them as “smelly”.

It is a common understanding that hippies seem to shun from cleaning and grooming themselves, so in calling them smelly, I get the feeling that this blogger is negatively calling on the very things which are characteristic of hippies- Could this make him a “hippycrite” himself?

Still, from this short blog entry itself, we can see that many people who call themselves hippies, or many people who claim to belong to a subcultural group, have many different concepts of what an “authentic” member should be like. To this blogger, the new generation of hippies are mostly hypocritical and thus inauthentic, they treat the hippie culture as a fashion fad and are unable to really articulate concepts which hippies believe in or do not have a mind of their own.

To these very hippies whom he criticizes however, they might be very certain that what they do is the closest to being as authentic a hippie as possible, after all, they buy organic food and ride bikes instead of driving cars. What can be more true to the hippies’ values of saving the environment than that?

Thus, we see that even within a subculture, people have different concepts of who is real and authentic and who is not. The concept of authenticity with identity is indeed highly debatable and contentious.

Moral Panic Over The Hippies

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Forum Thread On Moral Panic Over Hippies

This week, we talked about The Labeling Theory and Folk Devils and Moral Panics. What I took most out of this week’s readings and lecture was that, instead of society being inherent with certain behaviours which are already deviant, all instances of activity are neither inherently mainstream or deviant.

As Professor Patrick Williams has adequately demonstrated through a metaphor of two stick figures, the first holding a gun and the second lying dead on the floor, the perception of whether the stick figure holding the gun is “good” or “bad”, or sociologically speaking, deviant or not, is based on the context of the situation and how people interpret it with regards to the dominant societal values at the time. If the stick figure holding the gun was trying to rob the other who was an ordinary civilian, the first stick figure is automatically labelled as deviant by the general majority of society. However, if the situation was altered such that it is now war time and the stick figure holding the weapon were a soldier and the one lying dead on the floor was the enemy, the first stick figure becomes perceived as a hero in the eyes of his fellow countrymen.

Thus, I could grasp the labeling theory very clearly based on the metaphor given.

The item which I have selected this week, and which I have provided a link to above, is a forum discussion among some (Protestant) Christians, who call themselves “True Christians”, and with one or two outsiders of this group on the subject of Hippies.

It is similar to the reading by Rosenbaum and Prinsky on the subject of punk and heavy metal listeners in how the social reaction theory can be applied and in how the people labelled as deviants in both examples were stereotyped based on their appearances and activities associated with that of a subcultural group.

In Marshall’s first reporting post, he refers to the first category or “sub-group” of Hippies as the “Original/Classic Hippy” and labels them as “extremely violent and dangerous“.

Charlie Manson and his filthy crew are in this group. Extremely violent and dangerous. These miscreants are prone to kidnapping young girls for interracial sex orgies and drug crazed self pleasuring carnivals of indecency. These sex perverts will stop at nothing until the entire world is a grotesque tie dyed explosion of naked unGodliness.

Marshall provides no evidence of Hippies kidnapping young girls and engaging in “perverse sexual activities”. Instead, he associates all the Hippies he places in this category with Charles Manson, an American criminal who is known for having committed numerous murders. Perhaps it is the similarity in appearances of having scruffy, unkempt long hair and un-groomed facial hair, but Marshall very hastily associates these Hippies with violence and being a threat to others.

In actual fact, one of the main shared values held by Hippies is a love for world-peace and harmony.

Cohen’s theory of moral panic development can also be applied to this forum thread. As Cohen explains, a moral panic develops when “a condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests; its nature is presented in a stylized and stereotypical fashion by the mass media; the moral barricades are manned by editor, bishops, politicians and other right-thinking people; socially credited experts pronounce their diagnoses and solutions; ways of coping are evolved or (more often) resorted to; the condition then disappears, submerges or deteriorates and becomes less visible.”

The Hippies I believe pose their actual threat to Marshall in their trespassing of his property and privacy, and they further seem to pose a threat to the community as they are seen by the rest of the community as unproductive beings who are also unsightly and an embarrassment and annoyance to them in their daily lives. The styles of the Hippies are mentioned several times by Marshall, for example, “tye died explosion” and this image has been stereotyped very much and presented by the mass media to the public again and again. As I type in “Hippies” in the google search engine, picture after picture of people in colourful tye dyed clothing and long unkempt hair appear. It seems that the general public already have a stereotype of how Hippies look like.

Marshall and his community of True Christians represent the “right-thinking people” which Cohen talks about, and here Marshall has taken it upon himself to credit himself as an expert on diagnosis and solution to Hippies, which the rest of the community seems to ardently support. We see from his first post how pleased he seems that the number of Hippie activity on his land has died down, thus constituting the final part of Cohen’s theory of moral panic development of how “the condition then disappears; submerges or deteriorates and becomes less visible”.

Thus, I have shown how Cohen’s theory can be applied to the Hippies in this example I have provided and we can also see how a moral panic is socially constructed.

“Hippie Women: An Exploration of the Challenges and Reproduction of Traditional Gender Roles”

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In relation to week 4’s topic of race and gender, I have found an academic article/essay on Hippie women where its title is self-explanatory:

Hippie Women: An exploration of the challenges and reproduction of traditional gender roles

In this academic work by Kersten Selina Rieder,we can see the strong existence of gender inequality in the actual hippie scene, through the differential way hippie women were treated from hippie men.

I am able to apply Yamada’s concept of “invisibility” here in this article. Lemke-Santangelo argues that most underground art, music, publishing and broadcasting enterprises in the hippie scene were dominated by males, with the exception of a few women that seem to have contributed to these productions. The hippie women seem almost “invisible” in this scene. They were not given equal opportunities in the production of art, music, publishing and broadcasting. Instead, these women served as groupies whose job was to basically fawn over the men, to stand back and take the secondary positions while the men take the limelight.

Similar to Schilt’s article on girls and zine-making, we can see from this article that hippie women have evidently displayed overt resistance against traditional gender norms. They try reject stereotypes about the proper roles for women and femininity, through the usage of drugs,and the exploration and freeing of their body. Roman’s (1988) concept of the rejection of emphasized femininity can be applied here.

While Karen Martin argued that “one reason for the drop in girls’ self-esteem in adolescence is lack of sexual agency”, and that “girls feel removed from their sexuality – which they view negatively” (Schilt) , we can see from this article how these hippie women tried to exercise sexual agency and negate this feeling of being removed from their sexuality or even view it negatively, through the exploration of their bodies. Rieder included in her article, pictures of a hippie woman in the outdoors, wearing her bra outside her T-shirt and then discarding the bra, eventually ending up in what appears to be a meditating position. This was to illustrate the freeing of the woman’s body from clothing restrictions which stem from restrictions placed by society on how women’s bodies should be presented. The hippies women also refrained from shaving or removing body hair so as to oppose the notion of emphasized femininity.

Rieder also argues that “The psychedelic experience (of drug usage) was an important aspect of the emancipation and self-determination for young hippie women. Drug usage was a reaction against the notion that girls should be clean and pure, and lead a healthy and good lifestyle.”

In addition, Rieder has also found that hippie women were still expected by hippie men and women, alike, to take upon the nurturing role of the caregiver, to be nonaggressive in their demeanor etc.

“There was a strict expectation that women would be ‘looking after the food, houses and children’, and so the gender status quo was just accepted (Lemke-Santangelo, 2009: 60). Lemke-Santangelo names one hippie who expected his partner to fulfil the role of a traditional woman thus pushing her to the fringe of cultural production, while he ‘immersed himself in the art and literary scene and engaged in “sexual diversions” that were “business as usual” for his male friends and mentors’ (Lemke-Santangelo, 2009: 60).”

In conclusion, all these show that while the hippies have seemed to establish a new social order, it was one which merely disguised the fundamentals of the old order and did little to provide real emancipation and equal standing to hippie women.

Resistance: Singing Against the Idea of Revolution

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The Who – Won’t get Fooled Again

“We’ll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgment of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around me
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
And I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
Don’t get fooled again

Change it had to come
We knew it all along
We were liberated from the fall that’s all
But the world looks just the same
And history ain’t changed
‘Cause the banners, they all flown in the last war

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around me
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
And I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
Don’t get fooled again
No, no!

I’ll move myself and my family aside
If we happen to be left half alive
I’ll get all my papers and smile at the sky
For I know that the hypnotized never lie

Do ya?

There’s nothing in the street
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left
Is now the parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around me
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
Don’t get fooled again
No, no!

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss”

I have chosen a song “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by “The Who” and will analyze the types of resistance depicted in it.

I see very interestingly, three examples of resistance in this song, 1) the uprising and resulting rebellion which is overt and macro, 2) the resistance shown by the guitarist with his hat depicted in the song which is covert and micro, and 3) the message of warning against rebellion by The Who, which is overt and also macro.

The first example I see is an uprising, “We’ll be fighting in the streets, With our children at our feet”, which led to a rebellion which eventually succeeded. According to Robert Merton (1938), “Rebellion occurs when emancipation from the reigning standards, due to… marginalist perspectives, leads to the attempt to introduce a ‘ new social order” and thus I would term what I can interpret from this song that the band is talking about a rebellion. This uprising and rebellion would then be considered by Jocelyn A. Hollander and Rachel L. Einwohner as overt resistance.

In their article titled “Conceptualizing Resistance”, Hollander and Einwohner provide Table I which shows the types of resistance and how to identify one from another. According to this table, resistance is considered overt when a) the act is intended as resistance by the actor, b) the act is recognized as resistance by the target and c) the act is recognized by the observer.

The mentioned uprising and rebellion is an intentional act by the actors involved as they are conscious of their actions and purposeful in making for a change in society. The act is also recognized by the political leaders and authorities of the nation as they respond by sending forces to clamp down the uprising. Observers can also easily tell that the uprising is intended as resistance.

This is a macro-level activity as it involves changes at the largest possible scale, and Merton also gave his definition of rebellion as part of his macro-oriented study of subcultures.

The next form of resistance which I can see is in the actions by the guitarist depicted in the song. He is demonstrating covert resistance towards the constitution as he acts cordially towards them on the surface, but reveals what he thinks otherwise in his music and guitar playing, “I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution. Take a bow for the new revolution. Smile and grin at the change all around me. Pick up my guitar and play. Just like yesterday”.

Looking at Hollander and Einwohner’s Table I of Types of Resistances, this resistance is considered as covert as a) the act is intended by the actor, which is the guitarist, but b) the act is not recognized as resistance by the target, as it is meant to be disguised from the constitution. Yet, c) the act is probably recognized as resistance by the observer, which are the people passing by on the streets around the guitarist when they stop to listen carefully to what he is conveying. Although I do not know for sure what the guitarist is revealing through his guitar playing and singing, I assume that passer-bys on the street would be able to detect resistance in his music if they were to stop and carefully listen.

This resistance by the guitarist is micro as the resistance is coming from but one person and has a small impact, probably only on those who stop by the street and listen intently to what the guitarist is singing about.

The last form of resistance which I can detect is actually from the band, The Who, themselves as they are resisting the very concept of “OVERT resistance”. Through this song, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, they are warning potential rebels that overt resistance is futile, because even if rebellion succeeds, the new regime which arises will be as flawed as the old regime. This resistance is overt as this song “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is intended by the band as resistance, and is easily interpreted and understood by the target, which are the people all around the world who have the desire or intention to rebel – potential rebels, as a message against rebellion.

This song by The Who is resistance on a macro-level as this song is widely available to people all over the world and probably has a huge impact on its large base of consumers.

Thus, we see in this song “Won’t Get Fooled Again” , depictions of resistance in varied forms; be it covert or overt, on a macro or micro level.