Some Thoughts by Rob LeDonne
In this edition of “Some Thoughts” we hear from Rob LeDonne who is a writer and comedian. He has written material for TV’s Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and the MTV Video Music Awards. On the publishing side of things, his work has appeared in Surfer Magazine, Paste, and Nylon Guys. He is currently a contributing writer for Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, and means no disrespect to his parents- both of whom grew up in the 1960s. Follow him on Twitter: @RobLeDonne. “Some Thoughts” is a written series on KorduroyTV with thoughtful people like you.
I recently watched the Rolling Stones documentary “Gimmie Shelter” for the first time with my father and was pretty captivated. It’s a unique look at the band at the top of their game in 1969, culminating in an infamous free concert at Altamont Speedway known mostly for the murder of a gun-wielding spectator by a member of the Hell’s Angels. Directed by the Maleyses Brothers, it includes no narration; just subjects being shot in a very raw form and is much more realistic than any ‘reality’ show on the air today. “Gimmie Shelter” is culturally relevant on a number of levels, perhaps mostly because it captured, on film, the end of the hippie era; showing a nefarious side (spectators high and out of their minds, the chaotic nature, and hidden violence) of flower power; Altamont took whatever innocence the movement had and ripped it to pieces.
I’m discussing “Gimmie Shelter” not to sound like a documentary-pontificating snobby hipster (I have enough pairs of skinny jeans and Instagram posts to prove that), but to share a thought that came to me while watching the film’s footage of hippies, then in their teens and twenties act, as Jay-Z and Kanye West would say, “cray”. It got me thinking about the generation who grew up in the 1960s as a whole, and while I do not mean to lump every person who grew up then together (or maybe I do?), I feel like that as a society in 2012, we have made leaps and bounds of progress since.
Most of those teens and twentysomethings in the 1960’s grew up to become parents of the teens, twentysomethings, and thirtysomethings of today. Let’s face it; my generation (I’m 25) has a bad reputation. We’re known by those older than us as being brainless, glued to our computers, aloof about the world, and lacking respect. Now before you point out that at the moment I’m on my computer writing for a surf-centric website and essentially dissing my elders, take a look at some parallels between the young people of the 1960s and those of today.
For one, while drugs are still prevalent, no one today besides a secluded group of stoners and addicts have completely centered their lives around narcotics as much as hippies did in the 1960s. People were taking so many hallucinogens back then that tie-dye shirts actually became fashionable. Yes, you read that correctly: at one point in our nation’s history, it was not ironic to wear a tie-dye shirt. Let us also not forget that the 60s popularized the use of drugs, all of which effects kids to this day. Another facet of culture that has improved since then is the education of today’s young people; simply not as many people were attending college back then. Does that mean we’re smarter? Maybe.
The economy was still pretty good 50 years ago- who can beat 31 cents for a gallon of gasoline in 1960? I would do anything to pay 31 cents for gas today- and I mean anything (seriously, lets talk later). Today, mostly due to a poor economy caused by 1960s kids, many are struggling. Additionally, don’t forget how many were shamefully both racist and sexist in the 60s (besides people that fought for those rights, of course). We’ve made so much progress today on the sexism front that someone like Snooki is one of the most popular people in the country (okay, maybe that’s not a great example). When it comes to a lack of racism, need I remind you about our current President?
Just because today’s generation of kids are (arguably) more educated and harder workers, doesn’t mean the 1960s were a total loss; just look at pop culture. Compared to the Beatles in the 1960s, we have Justin Bieber. Compared to 60s-era movie stars like John Wayne or Elizabeth Taylor, we have those pale kids from “Twilight”. Also, compared to the ground-breaking and innovative television shows of the 60s, we have Snooki’s very own “Jersey Shore”.
Besides that, I guess what I’m trying to say is that whenever someone knocks today’s generation of young people who just trying to get by in the world, I always think of the kids of the 1960s. If the 1940s saw the “greatest” generation, then the 1960s could be called the “highest” generation. It’s tricky, however, to name the current generation of young people. We aren’t the absolute best and brightest, but we’re certainly trying, and that counts for a lot... not to mention the fact that none of us would ever be caught dead in a tie-dye t-shirt.