Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Case Against Hippies

Recently, there have been a couple of discussions revolving around hippies. One blogger bashed their deodorants (I know. I know. They have deodorant?) and the other couldn't fathom progressive-thinking folk not liking hippies.

This has been a topic I've avoided, mostly because it would get hippies and hippie-sympathizers all heated. No one wants that. Additionally, I have had many friends who have identified as hippies. I've broken bread with and been invited into their homes. I mean hippies no harm. However, I don't think I can hold back anymore. Of course, I've had to temper my rantings in order to make my message clear and not to wallow in the mire of insults and degradation.

This is my case against hippies.

My problem with hippies is primarily a class issue. Hippies are generally middle to upper-middle class kids "rebelling" against their parents' wealth and social status. They are able to attend college on their parents' dime and travel across the country in VW buses, following the Grateful Dead or Phish or some equally terrible jam band while consuming mass amounts of mind-altering substances. Despite the advantages of their economic and social class, they choose to wear rags and to spend money on pot rather than soap. They have actually chosen a pseudo-bohemian lifestyle when all the benefits of modern society are within their grasp. In the end, they know that they can always depend on their parents' savings or their fancy degrees to bail them out if living a flower child lifestyle gets too hard.

Hippies believe they have the market cornered on anything considered counterculture. Believe it or not, there are other people who don't trust the government, believe in peace, and generally fight to subvert the dominant paradigm without growing their hair long and "forgetting" to shower. In fact, hippies are often just as dogmatic and self-righteous as their conservative counterparts. Their inability to see this irony is baffling.

Hippies are not the only or even the first to protest war or social injustice. They protest so much with few reasonable solutions that the message is usually lost. Like their brethren in anarchist circles (another post for another time), their protest style is so silly and ridiculous that no one listens anymore. Their causes are dismissed as "the rantings of a bunch of lazy hippies." I do not dismiss their causes, but I see their approach as irrelevant and antiqued as the most staunchly conservative Republicans.

What about the "original hippies" (OH?) of the 1960's? In their particular time period and socio-political context, weren't they revolutionary? Didn't the original hippies affect some change? Why throw the originals out with all these wanna-be hippies of the last 30 years?

While it might be true that the original hippie movement had some positive effects on our world and culture, what that generation has become barely resembles this revolutionary time. Since so many hippies were college kids, they were able to move on to good jobs. They began to take part in American society as middle-class soccer moms and workaholic dads whose views became more and more conservative. They started to drive gas-guzzling-environmentally-hazardous SUV's and participated in suburban sprawl by building houses on streets named for the trees cut down to make room for their neighborhoods. The worst part of their legacy might be the apathetic and overly spoiled generation of children they raised without any talk of revolution, social justice, or peace to be found anywhere.

And what has happened to hippie politics? This is the one area I generally agree with hippies...or at least I thought. I have found most hippies to either be staunch Libertarians or generally apathetic. I understand both stances, but I just don't agree with them.

Libertarians are just anarchists who believe in using government to make government nonexistent or secular-isolationist Republicans. A Libertarian perspective is bad for all of us. It doesn't protect the poor and disenfranchised. They don't want taxes that pay for schools, roads, and social programs. That doesn't sound like the utopian communities of hippie communes past, does it?

Although the strange conservative turn toward Libertarianism is puzzling, the political and social apathy of hippie-dom is not as surprising. As hippies have taken more and more drugs and evolved into a lifestyle as opposed to a political statement, they move away from the political activism of the 1960's for which they were originally known. The apathy is somewhat expected with 3+ decades of materialism and capitalist decadence at the hands of our political leaders beating down hippie ethos at every turn. These developments haven't done much for me either, but somehow I've avoided apathy.

Of course the real reason not to like hippies is encapsulated in one word: PATCHOULI. That's right. The worst part about hippies is the scent in which they choose to douse themselves. There is no worse smell than patchouli.

Tell me what you think. Why do you hate hippies? Or, if you actually exist, why do you find this post to be offensive?


Pizza Cottontail said...

I don't mind hippies. The conversations I've had with them are usually mind-numbingly stupid (the most recent was with a self-proclaimed athiest who in the same breath said she believed in a higher power), but they're overall pretty harmless. I can forgive them for being shallow and self-centered because 1) everyone is, and 2) they usually leave you alone when you don't want to talk to them.

I have a bigger problem with evangelicals, philospohy majors, and poets, who tend think that people might actually care what they have to say.

Emily said...

I don't believe we've ever met in person, but we have a mutual friend: Chad P.

Now I'm glad I never wasted your time, and I hope you never have the misfortune to run into me when I'm talking journalism with C.P. Apparently, you already know everything there is to know about me. Good luck with your closed mind.

comoprozac said...

You have a good point, Pizza. This might be why I was careful not to use the word "hate" in my post.

Emily, I think I'm confused. I'm not sure I know much about you. Although, we did meet once at Chad's birthday celebration. Closed mind? I'm confused.

jenny said...

I second that about poets!

But my problem with hippies is that they lack a sense of humor. (Ditto for most poets.)