Popular culture of the 1960’s

Undoubtedly the 1960s are renowned for being a rather revolutionary period since it involved dramatic changes throughout the world. The decade brought about newer renderings of all cultural dimensions, as well as shaping the modern culture through heavy influences upon music, media and politics.

Literature and Art

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Literature undeniably had profound influence on popular 1960s culture. During this period many ordinary people found themselves in positions of re-evaluation of worldwide issues. There it was not surprising why many found it ideal to develop their insight and understanding through literature. A variety of new writing styles were also seemingly emerging into significant use. Many sought further inspiration from older literary works. ‘Steppenwolf,’ by Herman Herse, who was a German writer, was renowned for his meaningful writings from the 1920s. Other appropriate examples include writers such as Jack Kerouac, Robert A. Heinlein, Ken Kesey, Tom Wolfe and Loren Eisley.

Art took on a considerable change in its approach. The old classic style of art, which was stereotypically of scenic landscapes, sparkling water depictions and romanticised figures, was no longer as widely appreciated as before. ‘Pop Art’ was a new form of art, becoming increasingly recognised. This form of art evolved around themes from rather significant pop culture items (e.g. images of famous actors and actresses, old cartoons as well as other appreciated idols.) ‘Pop Art’ was often composed of unusual works of art, of bright colours and optical illusions. These art forms were for the first time witnessed in most museums, which was a reflection on the profound change upon modern appreciation for art.

An example of ‘Pop Art’: I Know…Brad, 1963

Bayerische Staatsgem�lde Sammlungen, Munich

Ludwig-collection, Aachen

Philosophy

The 1960s was a decade of ‘peace, love and harmony.’ It is love which is the main element required to understand a typical 1960’s hippie’s psychology. The decade saw the dawn in the extended interest towards a different type of spirituality. Shamanism became a prominent religion appreciated by psychedelic hippies. This religion was used Indians and tribes in Siberia. It’s mysticism appealed greatly to hippies as it involved getting your body into a state where it would be possible to communicate with other realms. They certainly saw it as great reason to take drugs.

Buddhism and Hinduism were particularly religions associated with the late sixties. These were the loving religions, which easily appealed to many people, including a diverse range of artists and groups. Many travelled to India to seek the purpose and meaning of life as well as getting converted to Hinduism or Buddhism.

The Yin and Yan symbol is one, which is also associated with mainly hippies. It is taken from Shintoism and Taoism, which are both Japanese and Chinese religions.

Hippies

Hippies originate from San Francisco and are known to be mainly American revolutionary. Hippies are stereotypically associated with men having long hair and growing beards, young women dressed like peasants, wearing psychedelic colours, being rather dirty, drugged, and disrespectful of their elders and society. Dropping out of college, starting up rock bands, living in commune, and travelling afar, they were believed to be frightening and bewildering. Also travelling to different festivals and camps such as Woodstock, hippies were known to be nature- loving. Drugs were another common association with hippy culture and drugs such as LSD were legal in many places until 1967.

Music and festivals

In the 1960s music played a more prominent role in voicing out the typical views of society. This music greatly influenced modern music and arose awareness on social and political issues.

Folk singers such as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Peter, Paul and Mary almost immediately famed after writing songs which voiced the tension created by the Vietnam war. This particularly encouraged rebellion amongst youngsters.

Rock music also became even more recognised as the Beatles became superstars. They led the British invasion as they struck New York and they successfully changed rock music for eternity. Chubby Checker’s rock n’ roll music inspired the ‘Twist’ dance craze, which brought about dances with even more movement and less direction.

Other musicians were also under drug influence. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jefferson Airplane led ‘Psychedelic rock.’ Songs were carried away with long heavy guitar riffs.

Numerous music festivals, namely Woodstock were popular. Almost half a million party-goers attended Woodstock, a three day music and love festival. The famous bands, Credence, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Carlos Santana and many others were seen at the festival.

Social protest

The 1960s was famed for its vast social protest, which had a great impact upon culture. Most citizens in many countries were beginning to be taking a part in public life. Despite in America many organizations promoting racial justice and equality had been created since the end of the civil war, there was little progress. However it was the events of the sixties, which catalysed this change. Initially hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, public facilities and schools were segregated throughout the early sixties. However Martin Luther King, the influential leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Council used non-violent confrontation against the racism of the white community. It was the beginning of the white community’s rejection of their racist values when Martin Luther King convinced President Kennedy and President Johnson to push for legislation to end discrimination.

The women’s liberation movement was particularly renowned in the 1960s for making radical changes for women. Vigorous protest helped many favourable changes to occur with regard to basic rights, domestic issues and their abilities to get fair employment opportunities in the workplace.

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