The issues and conflicts of the 1960s seemed like an unending series of “irresistible force meets immovable object” situations. Hawks vs. Doves, the Generation Gap, hippies vs, Young Republicans, police vs. protesters, and on and on. But slowly, almost imperceptibly, those conflicts and issues did get settled. Some were confronted and resolved, while others just faded away. Here are just a few examples of how some of the slogans that defined the Sixties resulted in changes we see today.
1960s: “Let it all hang out.”
2010: Not every little bit of the 1960s mindset has turned out for the better. An unprecedented increase in per capita caloric intake has combined with a sedentary lifestyle and an unexplainable lack of shame or self awareness, to make the beaches around every body of water in America look like tryouts for the fat man and lady in a carnival freak show. Clearly, it all does not need to be hung out. There's a Bruce Springsteen video about something else entirely, but that more or less says it all.
1960s: People all over the country were on a quest to “find themselves.”
2010: This is no longer a problem, thanks to GPS technology. Now you can find yourself anywhere on the planet. If Jack Kerouac were alive today, he and Neal would scope out their cross-country trips on Mapquest and take hourly satellite readings to make sure they were on course. They'd be at the forefront of The Tweetnik Generation, where everyone knows every movement and bodily function of everyone else. And GPS has settled one of the most common questions of those long ago days: “Where's your head at, man?” (Except in extraordinary and unfortunate circumstances, it's in the same place the satellite says the rest of you is.)
1960s: “Don't trust anyone over 30.”
2010: You might think that as the revolutionaries among the Sixties generation aged, this particular idea might have softened or even disappeared. It would make sense that people over 50 or 60 or 70 would eventually be the ones not to be trusted as the years wore on. But that's not how it went. As the Baby Boomers got older they saw a lot of things that “blew their minds,” if you'll excuse the expression. Things like kids shooting up middle schools ... the Menendez brothers …and that “I don't like Mondays” girl. Those images have a tendency to stay in your blown mind for a long time. So even though we rarely express the thought today, we all know that the 21st century mantra is: “Don't trust anyone over 10.”
1960s: “What we have here is failure to communicate.”
2010: Oh, we communicate alright! Now that just about everyone has a phone in his pocket, we talk at each other a hundred times more than we did fifty years ago. Are we getting more done? That's debatable. And thanks to those phones that fit into a person's ear, we no longer have to keep our distance from that guy who's happily talking to himself while strolling down the street. (But I still do, just to be safe.) And there's Facebook and Twitter to keep us current on the lives and loves of people we had never expected to hear from for the rest of our lives.
1960s: Make love, not war.
2010: Population numbers, combined with the fact that there have never been less than five wars going on in the world at any time in the past 50 years, have made it clear that we can do both at the same time!
1960s: Ban the bra.
2010: Not so fast. Not only was that particular means of support not banned, but it has become an industry in itself. Yes, the WonderBra got all the press, but today there are more choices for women of every level of endowment than you could shake a boob at. The sports bra, the convertible bra, front-closure, back-closure, the push-up bra, the maternity bra, the Minimizer, the Maximizer, padded, nursing, the Racerback, strapless, trainer, underwire and many, many more. I have a theory that the Beatles foresaw this trend in the Sixties, though.
Wasn't it them who told us, “Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, bra”?