Michael Adair’s Review of the Literature




When one thinks of the 1960’s, certain images settle into place. They think of a large group of flower children dancing around, smoking hallucinogens, and protesting just about anything possible. However, these preconceived notions of the 1960’s and the motivation and actions of the youth were generally misrepresented by the media to show the world a scene of glorified hippies protesting for protest sake (1). Youth today are viewed as generally lazy, dispassionate and ignorant about current issues, and pacified by the lull of the computer screen. However, youth in the sixties and youth today are entirely different than the conceptions that society has of them.
            So how different are these two distinct cultures of youth rebellion? Or are there some similarities between the youth of the Digital Age and those hippies of the sixties? Based on literature pertaining to youth culture, there seem to be many more parallels than one would guess. For instance, one of the main ideas that was reiterated in most of the scholarly literature pertained to media exposure of protest movements that are enacted by the youth in both time periods. According to the scholars, these protests were misconstrued in the sense that they weren’t accurately portraying the goals of the protesters, nor all of the violence that was occurring (1,5,6,8).  One of the most notorious types of rebellion and protest took place on college campuses, which seems to have transcended the decades into modern day (3). Many of the same issues, such as third world injustice, war, and sustainability are still being protested and brought to attention by the youth movements, although they are handled in a slightly different way. For example, the impact of music to reach a mass audience of youth seems to be a common trend (2,4). One last distinct parallel between youth today and youth of the sixties is the use of underground communication and media to share ideals, organize, and express opinions (1,4).
            However, some aspects of youth rebellion were different in the sixties than they are today. The way that youth communicate with one another has drastically changed, and this is greatly emphasized in Cory Doctorow’s novel, Little Brother (4). Doctorow sees the X-Net youth as a powerful force in rebelling against the tyranny of the government, and he alludes to several aspects of the 1960’s youth rebellion while describing the youth of modern day, with a few distinctions. For instance, he takes the phrase “Don’t Trust Anyone Over 25” from a popular chant from the sixties rebellion. He also references Woodstock and several of the musical concerts that were a huge part of the sixties rebellion while talking about the X-Net concert. Another strong reference to sixties youth can be seen while Doctorow discusses police brutality towards harmless youth in public protest. One last very important theme that was implied in much of the literature, along with Doctorow’s novel is that once people pass a certain age, they are stuck in their ways. That older people are less inclined to sympathize with the struggles of the young, because they fail to see that the youth are fighting the same battles that they fought themselves one day, just in a different context.
            Doctorow elicits several important aspects of the sixties and uses a near-future youth generation to mimic their actions. Although he does raise a good point and displays several good comparisons, I think that he is slightly overdramatic in his idea of the world. In my opinion, the youth today would not be as involved as the youth of the X-Net generation, and to compare them to the sixties is a drastic move. From my experience, youth today are not as passionate as those of the sixties, because very few youth today would change their entire lifestyle in protest to issues that are happening in the world. Yes, we may start to recycle more, but we are not about to completely let go of everything we’re accommodated to in the world and change what we have, because the situation today is much better than that of the sixties. As Bob Dylan said, “The Times, They Are A Changin’.”


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