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The age of hippies and the term "flower power"Skriv ut Utskrift
A written project with text and photos. The task is given on the VK1-stage in english (Engelsk 2), and we got the mark 5/6.
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Table of contents

 

What is a hippy?

Dictionary definition:

The Hippy - Our definition

What is the Hippie-movement?

What started the Hippie-movement?

Special Characteristics during the age of hippies

Woodstock 69’ - a peaceful battlefield

Drugs

The hippie-van

Sexual Moral

The music

The peace symbol

Dressing style

Hippie-names

The Hippies way of living

Why did the Hippie-movement end, or did it really?

Conclusion

 

 

What is a hippy?

 

Dictionary definition:

Hippy (plural: hippies)

- Person who chose not to conform to normal (western ) social trends , often also associated with campaigning for world peace and nuclear disarmament

- One who is hip

- Someone with long hair

- Someone who dresses in a hippie style

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The hippy – Our definition

Many myths on the hippy flow all over the world today, and the four bullets above are just a few of them. Probably the most common qualities of a hippy though.

 

In the beginning of the sixties, a dramatic change in the political, social and cultural belief of America took place. Former president John F. Kennedy was assassinated along with the black liberation leaders Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. The afro-American’s fight for equal civil rights, the study of human sexuality, the senseless attitude about the Vietnam War, and the growing popularity of Rock-music were ingredients when the hippies were born; a counterculture to the existing America. A brand new choice of philosophy was born.

 

The name hippy is derived form the words “hip” and “hipster”, meaning cool and trendsetting. But the hippies themselves didn’t like this name very much. They often used the word “freak” on themselves and their behaviour. The expression “freak” is today often a negative loaded expression used on someone’s very eccentric or with a bad mental health.

 

Let’s start the definition of a hippy with the outside. The hippies had often long hair, men often longer than women, and they dressed in a way which we today can say are a little bit eccentric or special. The hippies strived after being themselves, and to do they had to wear clothes they felt comfortable with. The clothes were often one or two sizes too big, and they were colourful with pink, yellow and green as the common colours. Other objects which were similar among the hippies were the drug-related tattoo, real flowers attached to the clothes and the dark, round, sun-glasses. The hygiene was not very high-priority among the hippies. It could be weeks between each shower and the flowers they used to decorate their hair and clothes spread dirt everywhere they went.

 

A subject which often is related to the hippies, are the Vietnam War and their strong engagement. Many hippies were apolitical or anarchists, which mean that they wanted to overthrow the established government and official laws. But mainly, the hippie-movement, were an anti-war movement which protested against the Vietnam War and the former president Lyndon Johnson who started it, was not the man they favoured the most.

 

It’s tempting to describe them using the word freak after analyzing their actions. It was an often used expression in the sixties and seventies as well. Even though the average American had a negative thought when using the expression but the hippies liked it so much that they started call each other freaks.

 

Wise men and sources all around disagree whether there was a concrete person who foundered the hippie-movement in the 1960`s, and we don’t want to make any speculations about that. What is sure is that the term flower power was used in a book by Allen Ginsberg in 1965. He wanted Hippies to like flower because of their symbolism to peace, life, hope and beauty. Ginsberg made most hippies on the west coast of USA to wear flowers in their hair and clothes, and this was the start of flower power. Therefore, the hippies were also called the flower children.

 

The hippies reached the top of it’s existence during the 60`s and 70`s. The “organisation” is often called the Hippie-movement, but it is really wrong to call the movement for an organisation since they had no official leaders. They were just a large group of youths, sick and tired of the military activities all over the world. They wanted peace, and believed in peaceful way of solving conflicts with solution-methods like dialogue, co-operation and negotiation. They even managed to influence politicians and avoid testing of nuclear weapon.

 

The “main-thought” beyond the hippy, was to be yourself, and to change the society into a “safe place” with all living human beings and animals living together in harmony (We whish to precise that most hippies were not vegetarians, but they were against the methods which were used haunting and killing animals)

 

As the dictionary-definition above says, the hippies often dressed hip. They dressed in a way they claimed was comfortable, they had often bright colours, decorated by flowers, and they used head-bands to hold the long hair away from the face.

 

After reading several pages of literature about hippies and their way of living, we have this conclusion: There were several types of hippies. The definition above only defines one of the ways of a hippy. Some of them were apolitical, preferring to drop out from the society rather than changing it, and some had the opposite thought. They wanted to change the society through being a rebel. Even that the hippies had different philosophical thoughts about the society, they had lot in common also. The bullets listed further down under “special characteristics” is what we think of as typical for the hippies

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What is the Hippie-movement?

The Hippie-movement is not a hobby. It’s not a job. It’s a way of life. It’s all about your opinions, your attitude and your will to fight. These people came in peace. The Hippie-movement caused people to give up their normal life and they created a new society. They changed their names and clothes and they fought for peace like no one has ever done. You can say that the hippies were people who had enough of war, crime and racism. And they dared to let the world know.

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What started the Hippie-movement?

The Hippie-movement started in San Francisco in the 1960’s. It was one of the many alternative ways of living. The Hippie-movement was a revolution, a gigantic demonstration against war, and it was carrying a message of love and peace. The hippie-movement belonged to the sub-cultures and weren’t accepted by the average American because of their behaviour. By that they meant the free sex, the drugs, their psychedelic music and their clothes. The hippy-revolution changed many people and shocked even more. The message of the hippies spread fast. In just a few months there were thousands of hippies. They refused to work, they demonstrated against the things they didn’t like, and of course, they had dreams. The dreams consisted mostly of wishes for peace and harmony of the world. People say that the hippies weren’t big fans of physical work, but can you imagine all the work behind their actions? The pressure of the Hippie-movement was actually one of the reasons why the Vietnam War ended. As time went by, thousands of youths joined their way of life. Imagine how much energy it was behind all these opinions, thoughts and wishes.

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Special Characteristics during the age of hippies

 

Woodstock 69’ – a peaceful battlefield

Most people know that the Woodstock festival was the biggest gathering point for the hippies. Woodstock in 1969 was when Janis Joplin and The Grateful Dead got more than 400.000 people for an audience. Most of them pot-smokers and fans of free sex, was that so bad?

 

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So, what else is so special about this little field in Bethel, New York? The Woodstock festival is what most people think of when the hippies are mentioned, but Woodstock was more. It was a milestone for the new festival-culture. It was hundreds of thousands of people with hope. They wanted everybody to be able to live in a peaceful community with naturalistic values. In other words; Woodstock is quite a correct reflection of the hippie-culture as many people remember it. The three days in mid august 1969 were transformed into a place with free love, drugs and poor sanitary conditions.

 

This festival gave meaning to the expression “peace, love and happiness”. All in all; Woodstock was a happy happening and a climax in the hippie-culture. Music was the most important thing about Woodstock. Many artists got their brake-through during Woodstock, such as Joe Cocker, Carlos Santana, Neil Young, The Who, Janis Joplin and the “Hippie Guru” The Grateful Dead. Through the music they got their message out: “No too the Vietnam War”.  

 

Drugs may have been one of the things that created the good vibes. The problem is that the drugs is what killed many hippies. This is why Woodstock was both a climax and a turning-point; the hippies exterminated themselves. People, who survived the years as hippies, have one thing to say: “If you remember the sixties, you weren’t at Woodstock

 

Drugs

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When the hippie-movement was at its height at the same time when the youth’s tools of rebellion, “sex, drugs and rock’n roll”, ruled the streets, and the Hippie-movement were no exception. They were mostly not strange to checking out new things, and it included drugs. As a rule, the hippies didn’t smoke tobacco because they considered it dangerous for their own health and the environment. The hippies wanted to be themselves, but it certain that they couldn’t do it on their own. Large groups of hippies were addicted to drugs like Marijuana, LSD, Cocaine and alcohol, which is not a drug though, but the hippies didn’t care as long as they became intoxicated and reached their intention of loosing the inhibitions and too feel better. Can we define their freedom as fake then? The hippie’s experimentation with drugs is the largest in the history of mankind. In the sixties it wasn’t unusual to be handed a pill with the only instruction that you’ll dig it. It’s groovy. The hippies trusted each other, and the feeling of being high and having a new experience was freedom. It was rebellion, and it was cool. The only drug which was no-go among the hippies was Heroin. The hippies considered it as a bad, and a drug for junkies. Anyway, we think that the abuse of drugs and the unhealthy way of living was one of the important reasons for the sudden end of the movement.

 

The hippie-van

The Volkswagen has been produced since the forties, and in the sixties, twenty years later; Volkswagen still produced the same car with only a few design-modifications. This means that it was easy to mix and

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match parts from several models to keep at least one Volkswagen running. Because of the simple maintenance and the cheap expenses of buying, the hippies loved the Volkswagen, and they had two favourites: The Volkswagen Beetle and the Volkswagen Transporter.

 

Today, we think of the old Volkswagen Transporter as a symbol of the hippie-movement. Many hippies were driving this vehicle, very often painted with eccentric colours like yellow, pink and sky-blue, and the chassis was decorated by peace-symbols and flowers. Inside the van, the hippies placed fittings like mattresses, guitars, curtains, posters and other material stuff which we associates with the hippies nowadays.

 

Sexual Moral

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The hippies wanted to explore sexuality, and they claimed that sexual experimentation was an essential ingredient to living life to its fullest. This really broke with the ethics of proper sex was reserved for those who loved each other and got married. The young generation who grew up in the sixties didn’t care about these opposites. Some of them switched sex-partners just as often as they changed their socks and they made it “in” to have more than one sex-partner at the time, so-called gangbang. The sexual revolution opened many gates which earlier had bin closed with locks and chains. Gay men and women all over USA now got the chance to come out of the closet and to be proud of their own sexuality. Woman’s sexuality was raised to the same level as men’s. She was not allowed to enjoy the sexuality just as much as he did. The activity which was reserved for the bedroom became popular to do out in the nature, in cars, in public toilets, anywhere you like. It was not legal, but the hippies were also opposites on the current law for USA, so you we can guess that this was also a protest against the authorities. One popular hippie-saying goes like this: “It feels good, do it”. Few words with many messages. The hippies wanted “free love” which means that you can love whoever you like in the way you want. There shall be no restrictions based on family, place of living, if you’re straight or gay, or black or white. The hippies wanted free love to be performed everywhere, and they made it look like they enjoyed being tailed by media because of their way of being.

 

The expression free love is a philosophy with deep roots in human consciousness, and was developed through the new knowledge of human sexuality in the fifties. It was released several books about the human sexuality, and they represent it as an essential part of life which needed extended exploring. Also the development of the contraception’s became popular among the women which now could have sex without concerning about unintended consequences.  

 

The old, conservative America needed several years before they threw the old-school sex out the window, and started to think different about sex. Because of that, we can almost say for sure that the hippies had influence on the life of the average human being.

 

The music

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Like we do today, the hippies followed the time and listened to artists who were popular at the time, but some artists became more popular among the hippie-culture. Artists like Bob Dylan, The Beatles and Jefferson Airplane represented a new culture within music by using the lyrics to communicate their messages and important questions about the society. A good example to this is Bob Dylan’s blowing in the wind: How many years can some people exist, before their allowed to be free? The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.

 

The peace symbol

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The peace symbol is today a well-known monument symbolises the hippies. They used the symbol active to proclaim their vision of a peaceful earth. The symbol consist the letters N and D (for “Nuclear Disarmament”), and it was first used in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in 1956. The designer was probably inspired by two Christian symbols when drawing it. The outer circle symbolises earth, while the inner design is God’s hand reaching down to earth with gift of salvation. The hippies appropriated the symbol to their anti-war demonstrations, and combined with the hippie’s expression “peace, man”, the drawing developed a reputation as the peace-symbol. Today the symbol is a popular trademark among socialistic youths, wearing loads of buttons on their purses, and to cloth producers. It has lost its real message, but the symbol itself lives on.

 

Dressing style

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The hippies had a dressing style which we can define as eccentric. Marked by glaring colours and decorations of wild flowers, they were easy to recognize among ordinary people. The clothes were often big and comfortable to wear. (See “What is a hippy”?)

 

Hippie names

Many hippies changed their real name into a special and symbolic name, just as the Indians has done for hundreds of years. The hippies took names which related to feelings and had a positive message. Examples on names are Rainbow, Sunshine, Harmony, Breeze, Spirit, Dancer etc…

 

The hippies way of living

Some stories tell us that the hippies lived on the street, and according to the information we got our hands on, only a few hippies did. Most of them lived in blocks together with two or three friends (which meant that the apartment was often full). The van was also an alternative place of living. Most hippies were unemployed and got through life with help from the public social services and occasional jobs here, there and everywhere. They travelled across the country lived for a short while in every place they wanted, probably searching for the ultimate freedom

 

The large consumption of drugs turned the hippie’s bodies into skinny “matches”, and many hippies were forced to beg for food. Many parents disliked their’ kids new way of live, and answered to their protests by rejecting them to stay at home and to eat together with rest of the family. We may think of it as unthinkable that a family was dissolved in such a tragic way, but it also this indicates how strong influence the hippie-movement had on the former American society. It can also be mentioned that many hippies died during this decade because of overdose or under-nourishment.

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Why did the Hippie-movement end, or did it really?

The hippies are gone. The hippie we recognize from the seventies is no longer around. The reason why it ended back then is maybe a big paradox. They did little to survive. They did drugs, experimented with dangerous things and they didn’t work. How can a group of people survive with nothing? They had a problem free philosophy, but problems were the only thing the world had to much of.

 

The first hippies are now replaced by the modern hippies. The ones we have today are not as visible and recognizable as the “old ones”. In these days it seems to be most about cool clothes and festivals. In Norway, we have the “Fuck for forest”- member we saw at stage with Christopher Skau during the Quart-festival last summer, and they could easily got together with a group of hippies from the sixties and seventies. They fight for the rainforest, they live in a van, they have long hair held back by a pan band and they dressed just like a hippy. Is what we see the beginning of a new Hippie-movement?  They don’t have as much will to fight as their “ancestors”. Of course, there are hippies today, but the hippie most people associate with, is gone. It may come back, or it may not!

 

 

Make love, not war!


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