Chill, Hippies.

Hippies annoy me. I’m not talking about the politically-charged, Joe Cocker-loving, tie dye-wearing hippies of the ’60s. I’m referring to  the confused, politically-ignorant, Dave Matthews Band-idolizing, “legalizing Marijuana will save America” quoting, Birkenstock-flopping modern sort.

There was a time when hippies actually fostered positive discussion and action in our country. Nowadays, college-aged poser hippies often make America’s youth appear apathetic and misguided.

“Puffing the Magic Dragon,” wearing Che Guevara t-shirts (why?), disliking George W. Bush without legitimate reason (“he’s dumb” isn’t enough to justify your sentiment), and having a Bob Marley poster in your dorm room doesn’t qualify you as a “true” hippie. Actually, this just makes you a tool.

"Get Up, Stand Up" Now leave your dorm...

"Get Up, Stand Up" Now leave your dorm...

Today’s hippies are essentially walking contradictions of those from decades ago. Instead of taking to the streets with a united goal for change, many now stay home and bitch about problems they know, or do little about. Sadly, most of those who actually do possess knowledge fail to constructively apply it.

I believe that the single most powerful force inhibiting our nation’s political, social, and economic progress is our impracticality. It’s impractical to expect comprehensive reform overnight (with regard to any major issue, including health care, war, corporate greed, etc.). It’s even more so to anticipate action from others when you yourself are unwilling to make compromises.

Vegetarians criticizing meat-eaters for their roles in animal cruelty should instead preach support for the companies who do things more humanely. Environmentalists should put their money where their mouths are, and quit following Phish across the U.S. in their fume-emitting vans (how do all of these “hippie” folks afford tickets to all of these jam fests, anyway?).

Phishin' for Meaning?

Phishin' for Meaning?

Real hippies once knew how to blend their idealism with realism.  They stood together and illuminated a generation’s conscious restlessness through speech, song, and collectivization. To them, Dylan and Marley were ambassadors of compassion and peace, not just for the pot that they famously smoked.

College campuses were once the place for hippies to be themselves. Today, however, it seems like too many students are just the opposite.

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  1. Evan Klonsky says:

    Mr. Bank — nice post. I just want to add a few things – not because I want to act as a hippie apologist or because I disagree, but because I just think there’s something more going on here (though you know I’m slightly offended any time Phish is mentioned in any deprecating manner hah).

    Anyway – I completely agree that there is a strong population of “poser” hippies running around these days who fit your description. That being said, there are of course organizations with “hippie” affiliations trying to enact real change, but their messages just don’t appeal to a wide audience (Mockingbird Foundation, Greenpeace, etc.).

    I think the real problem you’re getting at has more to do two things – drugs and music – than it has to do with hippes per se. As I hinted at, the hippie spectrum really runs the gamut and to say that “modern” hippies fall into that category is unfair to both the politically active ones and old school ones who are similarly confused and doing nothing important with their lives. But getting back to what I was saying – somewhere in hippie history one of the central tenets (political action) to the movement was abandoned and the two other tenets (drugs and music) rose to the top. Getting high (i.e. Bob Marley poster) and good music (Phish!) have supplanted “change” in our modern perception of the term hippie. Yet the problem with these two things is that they are objective – people love getting high and love music – while supporting civil rights, women’s rights, free speech are subjective (or at least were).

    So it boils down to the fact that today’s hippies, as you so aptly described, are disaffected, depoliticized and stigmatized by their eclecticism. Instead of uniting under a common cause, they are disjointed and often so removed from politics that they don’t realize their own hypocrisy (as you said, driving a fuel-emitting vans across the country).

    The people you describe are the way they are because they, as so much of the country, pander to what’s cool, popular, or enjoyable rather than what they think is right. They never worry about real needs or morals because they aren’t a problem for them, and can therefore pick and choose their affiliations without much continuity (if there even is a connection between hippie music and leftist idealism?).

    I think that this is the problem with trying to define any particular movement these days is that so much of our generation’s culture is depoliticized to begin with. The political beliefs of our favorite artists aren’t the first things that come to mind when we hear their songs – though I suppose this is probably better from a musical perspective. Anyway, there’s a lot more we could get into about generational differences and such, but I’ll end for now with a quote that I heard a few months ago that I think sums up what I’m trying to say. Bear in mind it’s from a Frenchie postmodernist in 1984, but I think it’s telling of the lack of continuity, resolve, and sensitivity you spoke about behind many of today’s hippies:

    “Eclecticism is the degree zero of contemporary general culture: one listens to reggae, watches a western, eats McDonald’s food for lunch and local cuisine for dinner, wears Paris perfume in Tokyo and “retro” clothes in Hong Kong; knowledge is a matter for TV games. It is easy to find a public for eclectic works.”
    Jean-François Lyotard

  2. Maybe you’re just meeting the wrong, overreacting, pretentious types. There are a lot of hippies out there who are highly intellectual, have strong principles but level headed that you will really admire. And there are those who blow things up, reliving the past, joining campaigns which they deeply don’t understand why. Anyway, to each his own.

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