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16 April 2000, 01:00

“Sell your revolution for a pair of running shoes…

It’s a quote from a pretty mediocre movie, but the thought has stuck with me and actually encapsulates what I find so offensive in the recent nostalgia for the sixties and seventies. When people “remember” the sixties, images of John Lennon, flower children, dayglo colored tattoos flow forth. Oh, what a time – tune out, drop in, pig out, whatever… My ire is raised, and the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up. If anything, the sixties are VASTLY overrated and the things remembered of the decade are the wrong things indeed.

Musicians, movie stars, and fads defining a generation? Kay. I think the emphasis of the sixties being placed on any of this is just another example of that generation’s missing the point. The real heros were no where near a Grateful Dead concert, or sitting in a university cafeteria planning road trips to San Francisco. There was very few of the overpriviledged, overly pampered, bored, alienated love children who went to southern communities to register black voters, or say, help charge down water hoses of the authorities in Selma or Montgomery, or teach in decimated urban centers. The free love and drugs weren’t a side benefit in any of these activities.

Protesting against the war was all well and good, but it was the misplaced anger and resentiment by this whole movement towards veterans coming home that caused a wound in America so deep that it still bleeds today. Vietnam veterans have now been thrust into a larger than life role – we see them as “affected” people. At the very least, we’ve been paralyzed into being uncomfortable around them, to making them into misunderstood psycho villians in movies, or the camouflaged loner who could SNAP at any moment passing a chinese restaurant.

The popular view of the sixties is the result of a public wanting to put a romantic and noble, happy face on an era where American desperately grasped at a failing structure of values, at a crumbling status quo. Even those outside the mainstream wanted black and white answers, albeit different from the established ones, but still needing some structure in a world where the shades of grey were sometimes more evident and the truth was too painful to face.

I do give credit to many radicals of the age, who, driven by their sheer boredom their comfortable lives, struck out. Although many did so violently. I do give credit to a whole generation for unleashing the monster of casual sex and drug use. I do give credit to the decade for tossing us head first into the drowning abyss that is our media driven society today. We have a significant amount of anxiety ridden, pony tail wearing, $60-a-pair charging, Seinfeld watching middle aged adults, who armchair quarterback politics, and parent by proxy. Folks whose only social conscience is buying Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.

These are the same middle class who shake their collective fingers at my generation because we have no unifying socially correct theme song or some other such nonsense. Why aren’t we buying the sandals that are made out of recycled rubber?? Because they are sixty dollars a pair and NO LONGER made from recycled rubber.

You say you want a revolution? Well, how much more will it cost us?