Some fads come and go like the mullet hairstyle, disco, rollerblading and hyper color shirts, however aspiring hippies are a common reoccurrence in American culture generation after generation. Although, American hippies today generally speaking have a different agenda compared to hippies from the past, aspiring hippies still like to identify with the imagery and folklore of hippies from the past. I like to call these perpetrators of a rehashed image “Neo-Hippies,” the total opposite of the neo-conservative. Neo-hippies are modern day pot smoking liberals by political association; who are generally earth conscious yet still love the material modern effects of today.
Few American social movements have affected American society as strongly as the hippie movement of the 60’s, the hippie legacy lives on in our music, drug use, sex, views on religion, style of dress, popularity of music festivals, vegetarianism, being earth conscious and liberal political and social views.
In my opinion the hippie movement of the 60’s is one of those special times in America that can only happen once, due to the unique political and social issues of the time, and to see people trying to recreate it just bugs me sometimes. It’s like “Oh ok I see you’re going for the hippie look that’s very novel, it’s not Halloween or 1968, but go with it if it makes you happy, tool.” It is like we are constantly re-treading the tires of the hippie movement every time some kid start’s smoking pot in high school and listens to The Beatles or Led Zeppelin for the first time.
Neo hippies today are not fully committed hippies with dreadlocks, but yet neo hippies love the “Idea” of being a hippie and the vibe it portrays to others. Then of course there is your high school and college kids that pretend to be hippies until their parents cut them off and they have to get real jobs, cut their hair, quit smoking pot for a drug test and conform into society for fear of being judged and being poor. This realization did happen in the 60’s also, but today I just find young people particularly high school kids and college kids pretending to be hippies very in-genuine and contrived. We all have a friend that you haven’t seen since he went to college a year or two ago, and he has come back looking like a “Wavy Gravy,” with long hair parted down the middle, pants with patches all over them, a hemp necklace, tie die shirt, talking differently using words like brother and far out, being very open about smoking pot like it’s a miracle drug, into all liberal movements regarding the environment and politics and thinking that their very enlightened about everything and that you’re not. That sort of change is not a bad one, to each their own, I just feel that just because you smoke pot, play an acoustic guitar in the park, listen to Led Zeppelin and other 60’s bands doesn’t mean that you need to turn into a hippie with all the imagery and trinkets.
Neo hippies in America are more concerned for example about saving the planet than the civil rights movement or ending a war. Hippies today use recycled paper products with an obsessive conviction, hippies from the past used to live in trees. Neo hippies love to escape for the weekend and pretend to be hippies, costumes included, then return to their 9-5 white collar job, which allows them the money to travel, buy expensive hippie clothes, organic food, eat at vegetarian restaurants, drive an expensive hybrid vehicle, pay for expensive Phish concert tickets and other trendy neo hippie activities that make them seem more interesting and genuine. Neo hippies today are more like materialistic part time hippies, they’re not so interested in living in a commune with no internet connection and no trendy coffee shop to hang out at and read books with controversial titles for the attention and gratification of passing by onlookers.
Further if you are a neo hippie in America today you’re more into eating organic food and inviting your friends to your $300,000 eco-friendly loft in an artsy neighborhood for dinner and have your heavily tattooed organic chef friend who wears glasses cook a meal that is organic, then setting up a chow hall for all your jobless hippie friends to eat at for free like hippies did in the past. Neo hippies get offended by people who don’t recycle, while hippies from the past built homes from garbage and recycled goods. Your idea of saving the planet is recycling and turning the lights off, not protesting for the eradication of Nuclear weapons proliferation in the Cold War Era. In terms of children neo hippies have “gifted children” that go to expensive private schools and hippies have children named “Mountain Girl,” who can milk four goats in 20 minutes.
Today, its sheik and hip for American neo hippies to be seen at Whole foods or the local farmers market buying their expensive groceries and their reusable bags rather than living in a communal community trying to live off the land like hippies did in the 60’s. Today it is important to be a vegetarian, because meat is considered murder amongst modern hippies; however it is ok to eat fish because they don’t have any feelings. Also, neo hippies today don’t live like hippies used to considering that being a hippie today cost a lot more money than it used too. Today it is important to live in a certain part of town, that often cost a lot of money but has the nostalgic feel of a artsy hippie community from the past, this is a stark contrast to the Height Ashbury district where 12 hippies shared a two bedroom house together, passing the time by dropping acid three to four times a week, sleeping with all of their roommates and bathing once a week. Today you can have money and still be a hippie; back then having no money was part of being a hippie. Although, these parts of town are expensive neo hippies feel their making a difference by riding the bus to work or riding their one gear bike to work, it’s part of their philosophy.
Also today the American neo hippie doesn’t sleep with his other hippie friend’s girlfriends; free love is looked upon far differently in the post sexual revolution era for neo hippies. Unfortunately today hippies and Americans in general are no longer able to have sex with multiple partners while experimenting with psychedelic drugs in a consequence free environment. Today, a neo hippie’s idea of a good time isn’t getting all your friends together dropping acid and listening to Jefferson Airplane all night, it’s more like getting your friends together riding your mopeds to go listen to a band that nobody has heard of at your favorite coffee shop, playing freesbie in a park with Frisbee that doubles as a pot pipe, going to a neo hippie music festival and eating pot brownies, blowing bubbles and playing with a giant hula hoop. Hippies from the past used to go to golden gate park, get high and watch a free concert while dancing around naked on mushrooms. Today hippies buy clothes made from hemp or clothes that are made by non-sweat shop artisans that are expensive yet socially conscious, hippies in the past used to where the same clothes every day, that’s why hippies were considered dirty and smelly. Today hippies are into alternative forms of healing made from herbs in a special tea they bought for ten dollars at some coffee shop, hippies from the past would have spent the ten dollars on acid and mushrooms and smoked the herbs for shits and giggles. Today neo hippies will protest anything because it makes them feel like hippies, hippies from the past used to protest things worth protesting.
For your hardcore modern hippies they still relish in their anti-corporate establishment image, except their preferred look now is dread locks and a beard. Modern hippies are more likely to raid a university animal testing facility and set them all free then to protest on a campus so passionately that they have to call in the National Guard to shoot people. Modern hippies do still carry the same strong stench of body odor as hippies from the past did, as they find deodorant to be a form of poisoning the body. Hardcore hippies do still live in communal communities, a lot of organic farmers and artisans are commonly hippies today. In terms of their attire they go more for the new age look including vest, baggy hemp pants, perhaps a funky hat of sorts, sandals, bead and hemp necklaces and maybe an outfit that they made themselves. Modern hippies have a different political agenda than hippies from the past; however modern hippies are still very into peace and love. Modern hippie’s political views have shifted towards the environment, world politics, animal rights and issues surrounding corporate corruption and greed rather than a strong anti-war, anti-establishment, anti-racism and nuclear disbarment movement. Its uncommon today to see hippies protesting in great numbers like they used to in the 60’s, because being a hippie doesn’t resonate in people like it used to. Rather than large protest on college campuses or on Washington modern hippies are known to tie themselves to trees or climb up trees and live in them to save a forest from being cut down, hence the name “tree huggers,” which is often used to describe the modern hippie. Or hippies will protest at the Republican National Convention, get dragged off street corners by their dread locks, maced and beaten and then you won’t hear from them for a year or more.
Overall, all of the issues that brought hippies together in large number’s including the sexual revolution, the Vietnam War protest, Civil Rights movement and experimenting with drugs are no longer as polarizing today as they were in the 60’s. Today the only thing that seems to bring hardcore hippies together is spirituality, anti-consumerism, anti-commercialism, communism, not having to work, an alternate lifestyle and the environment. And judging from the number of hippies today not that many people are into being a hard core hippie anymore so they are neo hippies, they like the ideology of hippies, but just can’t make that kind of commitment, their “A la carte hippies.” The use of drugs for example is not as accepted even among your hard core hippies as it was in the 60’s. Regardless there still are hippies, not as much as in the 60’s, but hippies are still around. In closing hippies are nice people who don’t bother anybody living in their peaceful world; however they all are stereotypically alike and that why they’re in this book.
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