Thursday, April 7, 2011

When did "Hippie" Become a Dirty Word?

I am fond of saying that I live a neo-hippie lifestyle. After all, I don't have a job, I live on dirt (just finished my taxes and had zero taxable income for the year - hooray!) I loathe inequality, war and injustice, I believe that most of the problems in this world are caused by our refusal to accept our own humanity, and I just generally believe that peace, love, tuning in, turning on and dropping out are all wonderful laudable goals.

So it always shocks me when I'm surfing the eco-blogosphere and see disparaging comments about "hippies" as if everyone knows that hippies were bad, dirty, or somehow reprehensible. (I would provide links, but I don't want to single anyone out.)

I don't get it. I really don't. In fact, I've always had great admiration for the hippie generation, and felt a bit sad that I was born 20 years too late and didn't get to be a part of it. I mean, these were people who actually took a stand, and lived their lives in accordance with their values. I know not every experiment was a success, and many of them bailed out and headed for corporate America, but that in no way means that the hippie movement was not a success.

If I had more energy at the moment I'd do a bunch of research and provide a pile of examples of the wonderful contributions made by the hippie movement, but I don't so I won't.

It just makes me wonder... was the backlash of the culture wars so successful that it's convinced even green eco nuts that being a hippie was bad? Are people afraid of the open embracing of humanity (yes... I'm talking sex & drugs) that was such a part of the hippie movement? Did Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan really succeed in putting people back in their boxes where they'll just shut up and do as they're told? Is this sentiment coming from people who were raised by hippies - is it some form or parental rebellion?

What do you think? Am I just seeing the '60's through rose colored glasses or what?

I'd seriously love to hear what people think about this topic...


  1. In the event this is remotely directed at me, I have no issues referencing the term 'hippie'. I do agree with you on the subject of using the term in a negative context- why IS it a bad thing? Not succumbing to the status quo consumerist lifestyle somehow places one within the ranks of a birkenstock wearing protester? And so what if it does? Does THAT make it a bad thing? Absolutely not.

  2. Hi Kristin,

    Not directed at you at all... I just keep stumbling upon people who seem to be really concerned that nobody label them as a "hippie" because they're into eco living, and it baffles me. Personally, I'd be honored if anybody called me one!

  3. What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding? - Elvis Costello

  4. I'd love to be a hippie! It actually takes a lot of work!

  5. I think the turning of the Hippie into a bad word is akin to Hitler turning Jew into a bad word. Again, you guys whent against "the man" and the man won. They simply got ahold of the propoganda machine. If hippies had started by taking over the radio and tv stations instead of drugging it out at woodstock and dropping out, they would be the ones in charge. However then they would realize the power of money and lose their core essence. Sadly, it was cause doomed from the start, no matter how correct it was. Maybe one day it will come back and perhaps it was just an idea before its time.

  6. MuThink - Thanks for stopping by.

    Well that's an interesting hypothesis. Perhaps people dislike the hippies because the movement did not succeed politically. I have to say that American liberals in general have done an abysmal job when it comes to politics. I think it's the inevitable outcome when you let your emotions take over in an realm that really requires tactics and strategy. "Dropping out" is a wonderful fantasy, but it's just that, a fantasy. Like it or not, we're stuck with this society and the "take your toys and go home" approach will only succeed in getting folks like George W. Bush elected.

    But I do have to say that I think people get WAY too worked up about the whole drug taking aspect of hippie culture. Really, it's complete hypocrisy to vilify the use of marijuana while condoning alcohol at every turn. I'm not saying that I'm in favor of addiction or the abuse of any drug, but I do think that trying to protect people from themselves is folly, and much more harm has been done by the war against drugs than by the drugs themselves.


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