Saturday, February 14, 2009

Counting Culture

Happy Valentine's Day!

Last night I saw Resignation Day at Sacred Fools. it's a well acted, well produced play about Terry Southern, the counter-cultural icon who wrote Easy Rider, Dr. Stangelove, Barbarella and lots of other very cool stuff.

So then I was thinking about Valentine's Day and other holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas and how they have this sort of main, obvious, 'mainstream' meaning and this opposite undercurrent of dissatisfaction and resentment of the main meaning. For example Valentine's Day is about romantic love. The mainstream meaning is that this is the day we celebrate romantic love and give gifts to our significant other signifying their significance. The main counter current is that its a drag to be single on this day when coupledom is rubbed in everyone's face. Another counter current is that guys have to scramble at the last minute to appear as if they've planned some romantic gesture for their wife or girlfriend for weeks.

The counter currents are what the folks on the comedy shows and radio shows are talking about. The counter currents are the interesting spice.

Now having seen Resignation Day it occurred to me that I assume that prior to the rise of the counterculture in the sixties American culture was mostly monolithic. Valentine's Day was about what it was supposed to be about and the rules about how to act were very clear and nearly everyone followed them. Sure there were beatniks and rebels who said caustic things about the rigid and the hypocritical but you didn't see that stuff in the magazines or on the radio.

Now we have those threads woven into the status quo because the rebellion of the sixties was absorbed into the culture (so now Iggy Pop's ode to heroin is used for cruiseline commercials and we don't bat an eye)

Now these anti-establishment sentiments have been around since Hammurabi but it took the Baby Boom to make it part of the culture. As a twenty something I was pretty much against the established order. I thought me an my friends would invent our own. As a forty something parent I wish that our culture was tamer. That my son grew up in a safer world with less sex and violence everywhere. So my thought is that before the bowlingball-in-the-python generation (the Boomers) all hit their teens and twenties at the same time the grown-ups maintained some control. Thus the monolithic culture that I think of pre "Meet The Beatles."

Father Knew Best.

That was pretty well overturned in the sixties and seventies. Once capitalism figured out how to make money off rebellion, counterculture became an unexamined part of the culture.

So we are living in the extended adolescence of the Post War Generation. Always questioning authority.

Well thank god.

(I'm not sure about this. Does it make sense?)

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