culture, counterculture

2 panel R Crumb illustration of a mainstream youth face and a tattooed pierced face with unconventional hairstyle

The famously rebellious Jimi Hendrix played a legendary, electric-guitar rendition of America’s national anthem at Woodstock in 1969. Was this feedback-heavy anthem a symbolic rejection of mainstream American culture, or a celebration of the country and its values? Hendrix’s use of this prominent American symbol forces us to question just how far the hippies went in rejecting the dominant culture. Indeed, countercultures and the American mainstream make strange, but frequent bedfellows. Witness the adoption of one-time countercultures by corporate America: Could early punk rockers have guessed that music by The Clash and Iggy Pop would one day sell luxury cars and vacation cruises? How did the hippies go from rebels against 1950s materialism to fashion trendsetters? And what transformed a small, underground music scene in the Pacific Northwest into the lucrative grunge and “alternative rock” juggernaut of the 1990s? Jamie Jesson is teaching RHE 309K - Youth Rebellion and the Rhetoric of American Identity at the University of Texas at Austin.

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