Drifters Essay, Research Paper
A Boomer’s Expense
Through out history the world has seen some generations that have made an impact more than all of its predecessors. The decade of the 60’s and the 80’s were definitely one of those eras. During the era two distinctive groups were coined under the terms Generation X’ers and Hippies/Drifters. Born of Baby Boomers, in Michener’s The Drifters and Coupland’s Generation X, these two groups express themselves with radical beliefs and alternative lifestyles.
As the 1960’s progressed, the youth in America united. In 1969 400,000 young people materialized for three dizzying days to listen to rock and blues music, to wear funny clothing or no clothes at all, to talk, sing, dance, clap hands, to drink beer or smoke pot and make love-but mostly to marvel again and again that they were all there together. Hippies came from many different places and had many different backgrounds. All Hippies were young, from the ages of 15 to 25. They left their families and they would ” not be coming back…not ever.’” 73 Michener This was done for many different reason. No one was going to get in the way of their dreams and ambitions.
Generation X is a group, we’re told, numb and dumb,’ lazy underachievers, apathetic boomerangers’ who slink home to the parental nest after graduating from college, as if being born into an era of reduced economic expectations. Abusive, neglectful, busy, absent, non-emotional and working parents have no time for relationships, because today’s young people have been deprived of intimacy they value it more highly. They value relationships the most, even though they do not have the skills and ability to have true and meaningful relationships. “The three of us merely eat a box lunch on a land that is barren-the equivalent of blank space at the end of a chapter.” 16 Coupland This is a generation that has arrived home to an empty house, with both mom and dad working, or a single parent home where the remaining parent is having to work to survive.
One of the basic foundations of the Hippie movement was the flagrant use of illegal drugs. There were many drugs that the Hippies used but none was more used then marijuana. From 1960 to 1970 the number of Americans who had tried marijuana had increased from a few hundred thousand to 8,000,000. “Is that marijuana?” 104 Michener To some Hippies, drugs and music were the most important aspects of their lives. Another drug that was prevalent in the Hippie population was LSD. The aim is basically to get high; that is to expand your consciousness and find ecstasy and revelation within and this is what the Hippies enjoyed.
Hippies were notorious for there out of the ordinary music. They “really dig music.” 47 Michener Many Hippies were actually musicians themselves. Hippies used music as a way to get their thoughts and ideas out. One of the most influential musicians of the time was Bob Dylan. The lyrics of the song “Like Rolling Stone” express the thoughts of many Hippies:
How does it feel How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?
These lyrics expressed Dylan’s personal thoughts to what was happening to him. He did feel “like a rolling stone” and so did his peers. His simple but meaningful lyrics are what made him so popular and successful. Many Hippies considered Dylan as a spokesman for their beliefs.
Besides their music and drugs Hippies did some out of the ordinary things that were as shocking as their day-glo clothing. Sex was the greatest outbursts of this generation, it was not something as it is to us today, but it was craved, “Sex is a drug.” Sex was an addiction and anything, “I’m practising my bedroom voice,” 112 Michener would be done to obtain it.
Generation X is a generation that has been forced to take on part-time employment, McJobs: a low-pay, low dignity job. Friends and peers are what matter the most. A common clich is: “The only constant is change”. For this generation, change has been a constant theme as it has grown up which also provided a life of thrills. Tom Cruise, in the movie Top Gun, summed up this generation’s addiction to thrills and adrenaline when he arrogantly boasted about flying F-14 jets: “I feel the need, the need for speed”. Christian Slater once said, “It’s better to burn out than fade away”. He was talking for his generation.
This generation loves stories, especially true stories of people’s lives. Douglas Coupland’s book, which gave a name to this generation, Generation X, is about three friends who “left our lives behind us and came to the desert – to tell stories and to make our own lives worthwhile tales in the process”. They have been abandoned from guidance and are forced to create narratives of their own to define meaning and to give expression to their selves.
“Either our lives become stories”, or there’s just no way to get through them.” 8 Coupland Their stories give them identity.
“Your generation has got to face facts.” 284 Michener Hippies’ easy going attitudes and fun and games lifestyles were put away when the topic of politics came up. Indubitably the instigator for their existence, politics played a huge role in their lives. The Hippies “we’re going to change politics in this country.” 245 Michener Concerned chiefly protesting the Vietnam War and with Civil Rights they made a huge impact on America and the world. Even today the effects of the Hippie movement is still felt. They made huge advantages and set examples for the youth of today and years to come.
The Sixties was a decade of social and political upheaval. In spite of all the turmoil, there were some positive results: John F. Kennedy’s bold vision of a new frontier, and the breathtaking advances in space, helped bring about progress and prosperity. however, much was negative: student and anti-war protest movements, political assassinations, “They’ve shot Kennedy,” 254 Michener and ghetto riots excited American people and resulted in lack of respect for authority and the law.
Flower Power’ and Love and Peace’ were the beliefs of the Hippies, they achieved their goals by putting forth an effort without the help of superiors. Many people have different opinions about the Hippies but they demonstrated that anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it.
The Eighties generation of young people is determined not to be caught in the economic treadmill that they see Boomers on. They view their friendships as most important, and prioritize their families. This means that their attitude to work is that it is a necessary evil, which is a means to an end. The end is “having a life”. This means “earning money”. Thus, they are not attracted by after work meetings at pubs and weekends away with the boss in order to score social points. They work so that they can enjoy a life outside of work. “We spend our youth attaining wealth, and our wealth attaining youth.” 10 Coupland This is in marked contrast to many of the older generations whose life is their work.
It should also be noted that this is the first American generation to lack a common cause, which contrasts the Hippies. This generation is one of the most racially diverse generations to grow up in human history and they also grew up with the constant fear of annihilation. For the first time in history, mankind has the ability to completely wipe itself out with nuclear warfare. “It was a thermonuclear cloud- as high in the sky as the horizon.” 176 Coupland
This generation seems to know that the answers they are looking for are to be found in the spiritual part of life, but they have no idea of where to look. They are “shopping in the right store, but they’re in the wrong aisle.”(Ron Hutchcraft)
Two diverse generation are caught in the line of fire and are compelled to express themselves differently. The Sixties were an exciting, revolutionary, turbulent time of great social and technological change: assassination, unforgettable fashion, new musical styles, Camelot, civil rights, gay and women’s liberation, a controversial and divisive war in Vietnam, the first manned landing on the moon, peace marches, World’s Fairs, flower power, great TV and film and sexual freedom. Taken on their own terms, given freedom within reasonable boundaries, and provided with enough information to succeed, Xers have the potential to be the most well equipped workers in the new dominated workplace of the next millennium. These two generations broadcast a history that will be noted forever because we, citizens of humanity have learned from it.
Coupland, Douglas.Generation X.St.Martins Press:New York,1991.
Michener, James.The Drifters.Random House:New York,1971.
Compton’s Encyclopedia Deluxe.The Learning Company:New York,1997.
Electric Online Library-http://www.elibrary.com/id/108/108/
The UNC Interactive Library