Counterculture in the 1960's

Counterculture Movements during the 1960's

A movement inspired by peace, love and individualism was formed during the sixties. A counterculture within the youth began to develop during the 1950’s against the “ethos of “fitting in,” that was promoted after the war. And from that movement a majority middle-class, white youth community rose in the 60’s to create a nonconformist group called the “Beat Generation.” Having a main goal of “restoring the human community to spirituality and authenticity” and “finding the meaning in life,” they were seen as “radical bums” (Huddleston 2) by they older generation who valued the conformist life of getting a job and supporting a family. The name “Hippies” was a term members of the Beat generation used to describe themselves.
            An “attempt to overturn or transcend dominant American values” and culture through “personal transformation” was a main goal of the countercultural Hippie society. Experimentation with psychedelics and other drugs such as marijuana and LSD were used as “carefully guided and structured, individual and contemplative experiences aimed at inner truths,” (Doyle 26) and were commonly used at gatherings called “Acid Tests.” With this new idea of seeing inside yourself and finding deeper meaning, controversial ideas rose against common American values which lead to civil rights movements in the form of protest concerning African-Americans, homosexuals and women.
            Also majorly influencing the countercultural movement during the sixties was the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War. The brutality of this war, and killing of innocent people influenced a major motive for the Hippie community. Also fueled by censored reports of the war, many peaceful protests were held against U.S. involvement within the war and the Hippie community utilized slogans, art, and music to their advantage to get their message across. Embracing their new life style of freedom and acceptance many gatherings were conducted by the Hippie community to support of their goals. Many of these gatherings, such as the “Summer of Love” and a few “Acid Tests” took place in San Francisco California where the Fillmore Auditorium (an iconic symbol for the music created during the time period) was located. Music, Art, and Typography all worked and developed together during this time period, and many new styles and techniques emerged. A style called “Psychedelic Art” was the main new style of art that was created by the hippie community. This style used a contrasting, bright pallet and a combination of images and words to create an initially confusing image that resembled what their trips on acid looked like. The main goal of this form of art was to confuse the viewer, stop and make them figure out what was going on inside the image relating to what their spiritual goals were. Art allowed for creative freedom, and individual expression and the countercultural took full advantage of that fact when conjoining it with protest. Art became a main source of communication for peace, love, and individualism sought out by the counterculturists.

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