What’s wrong with the new generation not wanting to disrupt the status quo?
From the onset it feels very much that apathy is the name of the game.
I’m just 35 and very much a child of counter-culture. Mine was a mix of ‘rave’ culture, anti-capitalist, anti-fascist, electro-punk digital hardcore, goth & industrial… White boys ways to express anger against the system.
And every generation since the 60s had a counter-culture of their own. To me they’re part of the experience of being a teenager. And one of the most important device for social change.
But since the 2000s where has the counter-culture gone?
There are no massive musical/artistic movement that tries to be disruptive of the establishment.
The provocation in popular artists is about is pretty much summed up:
‘Me’, ‘Nigga’, ‘Fuck’, ‘Bitches’, ‘Dope’, ‘Money’, ‘Gucci’, and ‘Bling Bling’.
I don’t drink my liquor with a chaser
And money is the only thing I’m chasin’
End some dope nights on some coke lines
Give me head all night, cum four times
Baby girl just wanna smoke a pound
Do an ounce get some dick, tell your friends about it
The Weeknd — Tell your friends
Was in shootouts with the law, but he live in a palace
Bought me Alexander McQueen, he was keeping me stylish
Now that’s real, real, real
One in my purse, bitch, I came dressed to kill
Who wanna go first? I had them pushing daffodils
Nicki Minaj — Anaconda
I think the Kardashians, Nicki Minaj, DJ Khaled are good examples of this. It’s all about appearances, showing off and being sexually promiscuous.
It’s very much a self-centered attention seeking “Me-first” hedonistic culture.
If the 60s wanted to bring more depth, tolerance, freedom and community. The 2010s are pretty much about the shallowness of human existence.
If we can’t be satisfied: “Let’s pretend we’re happy and our life is awesome” fueled by social medias, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.
And this disconnect between how we think life should be and what it is is the reason depression has never been as high.
From YOLO to FOMO.
The only positive thing we’ve seen in all of this is a public recognition that “Fat butts” are cool now and going about proving it in the worst possible manner:
So the wannabe stars are “twerking” their way to media attention.
While feminists pointed fingers at women’s objectification, what’s cool now is objectifying yourself. Be a sex object.
It’s all about seeking attention for the wrong reasons. So now the you can be an entitled bitch and famous for it.
The only mass counter-cultural movement we’ve had in the 10s was the “Occupy Wall Street” which saw anti-capitalism go mainstream.
It’s way too ‘polite’ in my opinion and very much spawned from ‘older generations’. Occupy is definitely not a “youth” movement.
But there’s hope…
By looking at the past we might be able to spot patterns and extrapolate on where the future could lie:
Against the ‘conservative’, ‘professional’ life of the 50s. Hippie movement’s weapons were “peace & love”.
Beatles: “All you need is love”
When the naive optimism of the 70s didn’t bring the foundational change they wanted the punks took over the operations with direct attack as weapon…
Sex Pistols: — “God save the queen, her fascist regime, they made you a moron, a potential bomb”
When Direct attack didn’t work, provocation of goth/metal was the weapon of choice for the white boys… for the black boys hip hop was the social commentary platform.
Public enemy — “Fight the power’/‘Don’t believe the hype’
When shock, call to action didn’t work, grunge took over with disenchantment and cynicism.
Nirvana — “I feel stupid and contagious”
When cynicism didn’t work out… it pretty much stopped.
The new generation pretty much gave up trying to go against the flow. Instead they fully embraced it. The new generation’s way to bring about change is to be part of the system and change it from within.
Yesterday kids wanted to be ‘Rockstars’.
Nowadays kids want to be ‘Tech-stars’.
They want to bring change from within the system.
No more ‘against’. It’s “Pro” something. It’s more of a ‘constructive’ approach. And maybe that’s a good thing.
That’s equally a reaction to what happened before. It does make sense that every generation think about bringing social change very differently.
That’s why we don’t see a ‘counter-culture’ anymore.
Anonymous and hacker mentality is the closest thing to a counter-culture nowadays, but it hasn’t reached the same large scale levels of hippy movement, the grunge or hip hop of the 90s which still hit major channels. It still is marginal.
So is it game over for counter-culture?
Maybe it is game over, but maybe we’ll see the birth of a new counter-culture soon. And those are my two prognostics:
Its weapon of choice is “technology”. In particular the idea that an ‘alternative world’ using technology is possible and include everyone.
I see a sharp rise of this “Technology will save us all” thinking.
Everybody agrees on the issues, but no one knows how to solve the problem. So it tries a bunch of things.
And that’s where we got “Crypto-anarchist” “Bitcoin”, “Blockchain”, “Decentralized system”, “Democracy.earth”, “Open collective”…
The new motto is:
“If we can’t fight the system from within we’re gonna build a new one from scratch.”
This generation isn’t trying to “break the rules” or “Use the rules” to their advantages. They’re trying to create new rules.
You might say that Bitcoin has already been swallowed up by the big financial institutions, and it’s serves for more of the same capitalist agenda, which looks like a bad thing, but I think it shows that the system is now playing catching up.
Those technologies can spread very fast and next time the system might very well be left behind.
I think the future of counter-culture might lie also between spirituality and technology and it will be fueled by technologies of the mind: Psychedelics, Body/Mind hacking, and Youtube videos.
Personal development meets technology meets god.
The rise of interest in psychedelic substances, Mushrooms, LSD, DMT, “Ayawaska retreat’, micro-dosing, fueled by Youtube videos, an oddball early selection of Netflix documentaries, and ‘scientific’ discoveries about the potential of those things. So now it’s official, approved by the scientific medical community and all, psychedelics given the right context are good for you, they make you happier, shut down the outside noise, reconnect you with the divine and fellow human beings. Now what?
The new prophets are old folks such as Alan Watts, Terrence McKenna and Jordan Peterson who bring about a new form spiritualities without the dogmas of the past.
Those are the new gurus of this counter-culture.
It’s very much a counter culture as it seeks to break all ideologies of the past, reconnect with the ‘divine’ directly, not from any dogma or current religious doctrine. Technology for spiritual enlightenment.
And I for one am very curious to see where this will lead to. I think the abuses of the “Pretend” culture of the last few years will flip back to a “Drop the mask” mentality. Something more “honest”.
I think that’s why there’s appeal to Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Lorde, Adele…
You can see it with the evolution of Lady Gaga.
It’s about Coming out. Being genuine. Opening yourself.
People now long for something real and more meaningful.
One good illustration of this change is with the star Kesha. Who went from sassy ‘bitchy’ to spiritually enlightened. I’m sure Psychedelics had something to do with it, even though it’s not yet ‘publicly endorsed’
And for a generation that’s never been so depressed, LSD look very much like the happy pill they’ve been waiting for all along.
And while the 60s was very undisciplined with their approach to social change, if you bring the right brain with the left, the ability for things to spread very rapidly, there might be a lot of interesting disruptive change coming along.