Why we’re living in a reincarnation of the 1960’s
Andrea Vale | Monday, March 21, 2016
For a moment, it’s 2016. I am twenty years old.
I imagine that relatively soon I’ll look back on 2016 in the same way that older relatives and teachers look back on the sixties — it was a strange, strange time, I’ll say.
Racial tensions are flaring up again, in Ferguson (Newark), Baltimore (Watts), for racial profiling, heating up then bursting in summer riots and shootings in cities a little too close to us.
Again, college campuses are hotbeds of activism. Berkeley is still roaring, I guess, but Yale and Missouri seem to be stealing that stage. It’s hard to fish the meaningful out of the constant, the ever-present, the sea of protest and offense. Every day something newly shocking.
We’re fighting a war that a lot of people think we have no right to be fighting. Some are disturbed by our own all-too deliberate and aware infliction of pain on civilians. Some are angry that anyone could see it that way, saying what did you ever think war was, this is our soldiers dying for us to preserve safety and freedom and it goes so far beyond that CNN shock value. It’s polarizing, dividing.
Some people love our president. Some people make Warhol-style pop-art with his face on it, calling him a socialist.
There are so many words that sometimes you just want to shut your eyes and stop thinking. Everyone has an opinion, everyone is overanalyzing, so deeply and so often that most of it doesn’t have substance anymore and it’s all starting to feel a little numb.
Free love again? We’re broadening our definitions once more, but it’s not sexy this time around — this time it’s honorable. Interracial love was love. Now gay love is love. Queer love is love.
The American Dream is changing again. Immigrants continue to come and be protested, and suburbia and cubicles are being rejected a second time over.
We’re turning on, tuning in and dropping out just like Timothy Leary told us to — but instead of psychedelic drugs, we’re escaping reality through technology.
HAIM is the new Fleetwood Mac.
And, if you care about things like that, the fashion is coming back.
My professors and bosses and relatives look back on the sixties as bewildering, exhilarating, exhausting — but above all, they look back on them. This feels real to us now, especially to us on college campuses — when and how will we clamber out of the surreal we’re buried in, and how will we look back on it?
Contact Andrea Vale at [email protected]
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.