Popular culture from the 60s onward. What actually happened.

jh0nyzh3:

why the f**k i was born in 1998 ? , f**k im in the wrong generation

ed:

I was born in '69 and loved & lived the rebellious 80s era. People came up with lots of their own styles, music, ideas. Now, its been taken over by the corporation and the only obvious sign of 'rebellion' are those jeans that ill-defies the law of gravity. Quite a let down isn't it (pun intended).

However, i prefer the 70s and 60s as they were more advanced in radicalism. I like GnR, but i'm not going to fool myself into thinking that they can beat the old rockers like Led Zep, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison...

(youtube)

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Whilst i do extol the virtues of the 80s era, and dismiss those who make a religion out of ‘keeping up with the times’ as ‘people who know no better for not knowing better and thus not being developed enough to appreciate better’, I am well aware of the deficiencies of the 80s as well.

The 80s was basically the last era of popular perspectival individualism before the relatively perspectivally barren 90s and the gradual incorporation of the masses into the corporate vision from then to the present. Popular perspectival individualism - by that, i refer to the production of varying types of styles, perspectives, music, etc, by the masses as opposed to their being led by elites/corporations/governments/rich/celebs - was declining already after the ‘hippie’ period. You could say that all that was left was creative vibrance as opposed to pure perspectival vibrance as illustrated by the philosophical and political mass movements of the 60s.

Looking at musical compositions, lyrics, and so on, one can see a marked degeneration of insightful content - though this is still quite present in hip hop with highly eloquent and poetical raps evident from the 70s to the present. Philosophical or metaphysical styles of the old rockers like, say, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Free, amongst others, gave way to growls, vulgarities, and onstage bravado. You could say that Rock moved from the mature to the juvenile. The same goes for much of pop-rock which saw a movement from, say, a Dylan to the Backstreet Boys, from Janis Joplin to Beyonce.

You could say that the form that 80s popular vibrancy took was the residual effect of the hippie era. Something like a chicken still running around for a while after having its head cut off. With the 90s and thereafter, the chicken basically dropped dead and was de-feathered and served up as corporate fare.Given this, if i do appreciate the 80s, it is mainly for its primitive vibrancy and great variation and not really for its insight. However, its raw radicalism made me more receptive of the more refined forms of previous eras from the the 50s through to the 70s. There was a learning curve when it came to appreciating the 60s, but there wouldn't be one if a 60s person was appreciating the 80s. But it seemed that after the mass movements of the ‘hippie’ era lost out to the corporation and capitalism, people were left with its remnant vibrancy and this took its last refuge in dance, various fashions and styles, and a host of genres of song. You could say that the form that 80s popular vibrancy took was the residual effect of the hippie era. Something like a chicken still running around after having its head cut off. With the 90s and thereafter, the chicken basically dropped dead and was de-feathered and served up as corporate fare. It was a progressively degenerative process.

When people are protective of their own eras with an, 'it was the best of times, now just sucks!', they are actually serving as the medium by which times get worse. The reason is that every era tends to focus people on one aspect of their personas and not others. When we take that as the entirety of reality, our personalities are developed and underdeveloped accordingly. And this is exacerbated by our not appreciating previous times or laughing it off. As we become lesser people, it is only short step away from worse. With our personalities further diluted by the 'reality' of socio-economic life, we pass on even less to our progeny. And they are thus rendered even more susceptible to the manipulations of the elite. That is how individuality was gradually incorporated and people now actually discount others for 'living in the past' or 'not keeping up with the trends'.

Let me try and summarise all of that,

First, we have radicalism in thought; then it loses out and radicalism takes refuge in a more juvenile and relatively less ideological form; and then, as there aren’t ideologies to sustain it, the 'reality' of capitalist life fills the ideological void. It is than that we are left with the robotic, or insensible forms of popular culture that is corporate-led. Fashion these days is pretty robotic with streamlined styles, clear cut lines and toned-down variation in colours, and flattened hair-do’s - the peacock has been relieved of its plumes you could say. Where are the afros, the Cyndi Laupers, the lion mane Barry Gibb, the big gold medallions, the bell-bottoms, the street dance fashions of Ozone and Turbo? Coming out with your own style is anathema to those confuse fashion for style. One of the signs of ‘rebellion’ that i see quite often are those jeans referred to in the comment above. You could call it a ‘resigned’ fashion as opposed to the assertive, self-confident ‘tight’ booted styles of the rockers, amongst others, of the past. Showing off your boxers is self-assertion? Is this the best they can come up with?

As we move from the ideological age, and from the era where its last vestiges sought refuge in styles and music, it is to be expected that society move on to a pubescent phase - which, incidentally, is the most receptive to capitalist/corporate manipulation. It’s no wonder that styles are mainly ‘sexual’ in character these days. Other than the robotic streamlined fashion of these days, we have the sexual variant with clothes designed to bring out the ‘best’ in women. But it is strange that when men don a pair of tight jeans, they are mistaken for homosexuals. One chinese girl in singapore told me that she thought I was ‘gay’ the first time she met me because of my skin-tight jeans. I told her it was ‘rock’. She didn’t understand it. I suppose when the true ‘rock’ persona is eradicated from society, its rebellious ‘tight-styled’ persona would be mistaken for a sexual statement given that society has moved on from the ideological to the sexual. You could say that humanity’s chakra has moved from the head(60s), to the heart(70s, 80s), and finally, to the loins (90s onwards).

Now here’s sweet little paradox to help the seeker to understand this degenerative phenomenon.

‘The means by which you are saved can also be the means by which it is reversed.’ - ed

From the 50s onward, with the elevation of singers, etc, to major cultural icons, they were imbued with the power of influence. When it is in the hands of the Dylans, Lennons, etc, its not too bad. However, pass such prominence onto Beyonces, Shakiras, and etc, and you’re set for mass degeneration. What was lauded in the 60s was not just particular ideologies, but the singers and celebs who lauded them via easy-to-understand songs and music. Very entertaining, but distractive as well. Distractive from the philosophical source that is. People began to prefer to sit at the foot of some bandstand as opposed to considering the less instantly gratifying musical musings of a philosopher.

On top of this, such celebs amassed great wealth despite their ‘down-to-earth’ songs. Their shine became even more glimmering. More and more flocked to them. Thereafter, they actually, unwittingly, took over philosophical development and thus severely narrowed it and basically constricted it to the point of garroting it in the present. That is why the likes of Bono can actually be appointed to the UN. Unbelievable that a mere singer can achieve that which does not fall within her/is professional purview.

It is the celebration of the ‘celeb’ itself that did much in undoing the ideological 60s and all eras that followed. People forgot that a simple song can only hold so much insight as it is constrained by the musical form to be brief. Hence, it leaves more unanswered questions. And when we take solace in music alone, without complementing it with a study of treatises, we cease to think about the questions that music leaves unanswered and just take refuge in its feel-good sensations. It's no wonder that we might commemorate Lennon as people did not a week or so back, but not thinkers who had more to say about how peace could be brought about as opposed to one who just sang, 'all we are saying, is give peace a chance'. Its no wonder that peace lost out when we have no directions other than a musically-articulated hope that it can be brought about.

Now, perspectival vibrancy is generally fueled by catastrophes as opposed to wondering after something simply because it is there to be wondered about.
A thousand perspectives and fashions are produced by the masses. Only a few are given prominence as and where it can deliver gratification and profits as quickly as possible. The masses are drawn to these few and cease to think and feel outside of celeb-defined boundaries. And with that, all popular perspectival vibrancy implodes. Now, perspectival vibrancy is generally fueled by catastrophes as opposed to wondering after something simply because it is there to be wondered about.

So, looking back at the 80s, and preceding decades, i cannot but have mixed feelings. However, I am quite well-versed, with much practice, in extricating the best out of the eras preceding the 80s right past the time of Christ, and hence, can still appreciate those times for what it proffers and don’t make the mistake of thinking any particular time, band, culture, etc, as being ‘the best’. However, being able to draw the best of all cultures and historical periods does have the effect of enabling one to recognise the worst of any period or culture. In that, it is customary for one who knows better, or wants to know better, to shake the dust of ones boots after a stroll around present times.


ed

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