Lunatics Taking Over the Asylum: Cultural Chaos in 1960s America

analytical Essay
7167 words
7167 words

Lunatics Taking Over the Asylum: Cultural Chaos in 1960s America All You Need Is Hate If life in the 1960s was a collective journey to the Underworld, then it is terrifying to notice how many of us have failed to come back. (Marshall Berman, The Sixties) The 1960s formed one of the most culturally complex periods in America’s history, and the analysis of this era is just as problematic. During this time, American society experienced an outpouring of filmic, literary and musical texts that challenged traditional institutions such as the Christian church, the government and the family unit. It would be naïve to argue that this period witnessed the first or the last instance of subversive propaganda targeted at young people, for the many dissenting voices herein did not emerge by random chance. The formulation of a more politically aware youth culture in America and, to a lesser but still important extent, Great Britain, was a gradual process that had been taking hold for considerable time, not one that exploded into being when Bob Dylan or John Lennon began writing protest songs. However, while it remains a matter of some contention where exactly these anti-authoritarian sentiments originated, it is my opinion that this discontentment gained real momentum during the 1950s and 1960s. Firstly, the group of friends and writers most commonly known as the Beats evolved dramatically in focal points such as Greenwich Village and Columbia University, and subsequently spread their political and cultural views to a wider audience. The three Beat figureheads William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac each perceived an agenda within American society to clamp down on those who were in some way different from the accepted ‘norm’, and in response deliberately flirted with the un-American practices of Buddhism, drug use, homosexuality and the avant-garde. Ginsberg courted danger by lending a voice to the homosexual subculture that had been marginalised by repressive social traditions and cultural patterns within the United States. Homosexuality remained illegal in most parts of America until the 1960s, but Ginsberg refused to equate his Gay identity with criminality. He wrote about his homosexuality in almost every poem that he wrote, most specifically in ‘Many Loves’ (1956) and ‘Please Master’ (1968), his paeans to his errant lover Neal Cassady. Ginsberg’s poems are full of explicit sexual detail and scatological humour, but the inclusion of such details should not be interpreted as a childish attempt to incense the prudish and the square.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how the hippies' political education was partly attributed to the beats, who tried to instil pacifist values into the lives of young people during the previous decade.
  • Opines that even the best looking apple can contain a worm. the sixties were dead. they may never have lived.
  • Analyzes how malcolm mclaren described the 1960s as a journey, but the fundamental flaw is that it must end at some point. hopper builds on jack kerouac's homespun philosophy of travelling the ‘open road’ in search of spiritual enlightenment.
  • Opines that the tone of the film, "night of the living dead," came from the anger of times. it was 1968 and nobody was in a gleeful mood about the world going.
  • Analyzes how george a. romero unleashed night of the living dead, the first instalment in a trilogy of horror movies.
  • Opines that marijuana, cocaine, and lsd can open up the doors of perception, but they can quickly close them again too.
  • Analyzes how hunter s. thompson's semi-autobiographical novel fear and loathing in las vegas is a scathing attack on the myopic hippie dream and the futility of the 1960s.
  • Explains that the trunk of the car looked like a mobile police narcotics lab. they had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid,.
  • Analyzes how the characters' appetite for self-destruction is evident from the very first paragraph of fear and loathing in las vegas.
  • Analyzes how kesey's work is challenging, but it is a complicated process trying to deduce what exactly he is saying here.
  • Cites dillard, r. w., and waller's american horrors essays.
  • Explains evans, harold, the american century – people, power and politics, an illustrated history.
  • Cites forbidden: george romero and the dawn of the dead, prod. nick freand jones, bbc broadcasting, 2 february 1997.
  • Explains that harris, oliver, the letters of william s. burroughs 1945 to 1959, 1993.
  • Analyzes holmes, john clellon, ‘this is the beat generation’, new york times magazine, 16 november, 1952.
  • Explains lee, martin a., and shlain, acid dreams: the complete social history of lsd, the cia and the sixties and beyond, 1985.
  • Analyzes tytell, john, 'the beat generation and the continuing american revolution' in the rolling stone book of the beats.
  • Cites peter bate's film, ‘charles manson — the man who killed the sixties.
  • Argues that the 1960s formed one of the most culturally complex periods in america's history, and the analysis of this era is just as problematic.
  • Argues that ginsberg's contribution to the development of the counterculture during this period was vital.
  • Analyzes how ginsberg portrays american politicians as monosyllabic neanderthals who are eager to wage war at any opportunity.
  • Opines that spiritual fulfilment is an elusive goal, if not one that is impossible to attain. kerouac dismisses the beat generation as a fad.
  • Analyzes how romero reworked the paranoid cinema that was popular in american drive-ins during the 1950s and encapsulated the dark mood of 1960s society spinning out of control.
  • Analyzes how thompson channeled this anger into works such as fear and loathing on the campaign trail '72, in which he unmasks american politicians to be corrupt fraudsters.
  • Analyzes how ken kesey's novel, one flew over the cuckoo’s nest, employs the setting of a claustrophobic psychiatric ward monitored by oppressive staff
  • Concludes that most of the texts mentioned in this piece close with the death of one or all of its protagonists.
  • Cites carroll, e. jean, cavaney, graham, the priest they called him: the life and legacy of william s. burroughs.
  • Cites galloway, david g., gilmore, mikal, and george-warren's the rolling stone book of the beats.
  • Cites hoskyns, barney, howard, gerald, and howard in the sixties: art, politics and media of our most explosive decade.
  • Cites ruland, richard, and malcolm bradbury, from puritanism to postmodernism: a history of american literature. thompson, hunter s., fear and loathing in las vegas.
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