Hippies Movement: The Summer Of 1967

The first thing to clarify: what is the definition of a hippie, specifically from the 60’s? According to Merriam-Webster, a hippie is “usually young person who rejects the mores of established society (as by dressing unconventionally or favoring communal living) and advocates a nonviolent ethic.” In a case study on social behavior, specifically in Collister High School, hippies viewed the 'trendies and preppies in negative terms' because they believed they were 'close-minded' and 'materialistic', they were inauthentic (Kinney). There are various definitions of what it meant to be a hippie from such a climactic era. That same website states that the first use of the word arose in 1965, where the peak of Human Civil Rights activism was present. The three counterculture movements during the late 1950s into the early 1960s were the New Left, the Civil Rights movement, and the Youth Movement, which will later be called the Hippie movement. There were pivotal moments where the hippie movement caught mainstream attention. In my research, one of the main events that personified the definition of a hippie was the summer of 1967, also called the Summer of Love.

To picture the summer of 1967 in San Francisco, you’ll see people dancing barefoot and high to “All You Need is Love’, the Beatles’ hit song at the time (Matson 7). People who defined themselves as hippies preached for sexual openness. In “Generations,” author Amanda Barusch analyzes the psychological implications of future generations. The author personally reflects that the openness of sexuality and sex in general, which was a taboo subject during that time, paved the way for future generations to change that traditional perspective. Many who participated in the movement preached that having sexual intercourse shouldn’t be an illicit subject. The Summer of Love may have angered many people, usually older generations, because of these new radical beliefs. There are other examples of how people expressed themselves and how open they were with the idea of love and peace (Barusch). Although my grandparents were part of the Baby Boomer generation, they are very traditional in the sense that I cannot imagine having a mature conversation about the topic without making me uncomfortable. A woman who was interviewed in “The Best Documentary to Understand the Hippies” video, described sex being “groovier with the element of love” (00:09:42-00:10:00). The same person had stated that shares the notion that we as people have these desires which isn’t a bad thing, that sex is not a bad thing to talk about or to do. Former commune member Lisa Law described the Summer of Love mentality was “everyone was your brother”; hippies would listen to the same music, dance to the same music, and “feel the same” (00:25:45-00:26:06).

During my research, I was hoping to see more articles that posed Hippies as pivotal activists. To my surprise, hippies were more into psychedelic drugs, sex, and self-involvement than human rights activism, dismissing my interpretation of the definition of 'hippie' before my research. In the book “The Hippies: A 1960s History”, author John Moretta describes the hippies as people who took LSD and smoked marijuana but preached about free speech and love. When I think about America in the 50s, 60s, and 70s I think about the Supreme Court rulings and how it impacted American society today. I often think they were influenced by the counterculture movements. During this period, many issues and laws violated the Constitution. Because of the activism of that time, segregation is illegal, people who can’t afford a lawyer can still hire one, people are protected from self-incrimination, and we define freedom of speech in a versatile way. One court case that is worth mentioning is Tinker v. Des Moines (1969). From prior knowledge, three students wanted to protest the Vietnam War by symbolizing their clothing. They decided to use armbands to represent their opposition to the Vietnam War, the students wore these armbands at school. Their high school principal believed that the clothing items were inappropriate on school grounds and suspended the students who refused to take off the armbands. The case went up to the Supreme Court where 7-2 judges ruled in favor of the students concluding, “a prohibition against expression of opinion, without any evidence that the rule is necessary to avoid substantial interference with school discipline or the rights of others, is not permissible under the First and Fourteenth Amendment”, Tinker v Des Moines Independent Community School District. The essence of this short description is to demonstrate the discontent that many American citizens had against American political policies. The discontent led to different movements, the youth movement being one of them. Besides political frustration, even music influenced the rise of rebellion and counterculture in the 1960s; The Beatles is an example of music leading to change (Cirafici). In Explaining the Counterculture, Paul Hollander discusses that “the Vietnam War, civil rights, feminism, and the rejection of consumerism and capitalism” gave rise to counterculture movements. In the same excerpt, Hollander explains that counterculture participants were radical and “favored political violence” (Hollander). Not everyone agreed to the counterculture mentality. The majority of hippies were white who came from the suburbs (Simmon 27). Then, people would flee their homes to join the movement in larger cities such as San Francisco, this also led to living in communes.

Counterculture individuals differ from capitalist ideologies. During the 1960’s the term hippie referred to a person who opposed institutionalism and had “little respect for sociology” (Simmon et al. 28). In Self-Invention in the Realm of Production: Craft, Beauty, and Community in the American Counterculture, 1964-1978, hippies were defined as “nothing more than stooges in the production of new ‘‘hip’’ styles that were good for Big Business” (Farber 423). An example of hippies going mainstream and helping big businesses would be the Pepsi-Cola Expo in 1970. The Pepsi-Cola executives “created hip, pseudopsychedelic advertisements that aped the aesthetics of San Francisco hippies” to entice the counterculture movement to attend this event which will also included the attendance of the military (Turner 68). The youth movement divulged their interest in the form of business that opposed their current capitalist frame. According to Farber, self-production arose from building one's home which in turn led to communal living (Farber 421). In these communities, women and men followed gender normative values; the women took care of the children and cooked while the men build and repair for the community (Farber 438). Farber included that men would get manuscripts to repair their car instead of going to the mechanic and if they did not build homes they turned their cars into a living space (Farber 439). Author Paul Hollander, who personally lived through the youth movement, recalled, the movement to be 'more alarmed by the impact of capitalism on social relationships' and focus minimally on racial minorities and women. In the mentioned journals, I interpreted as discontent with the American status quo in an individualistic culture, which is mainly western culture. In my perspective, hippies opposed the inauthenticity of modern America who worried more about the economy and war rather than the people themselves. I see people who wanted to enjoy themselves by avoiding their anticipated lifestyle that their antecedents prepared them for, which may have led to living in communes, trying different drugs, alluding to different and new genres of music, and having a greater appreciation for the environment. 

16 December 2021
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