To some people the sixties were the best of times Essay

There is a lot of controversy about whether or not the 1960’s were the best of times. Dave Clark claimed, “Everything and anything was possible”, indicating that there was a lack of control in the sixties, which many used to their advantage for example the class system at school’s had almost been completely abolished, whereas others, such as Mary Whitehouse became concerned about what she and many others perceived as the declining moral standards in the British media, especially in the BBC. Mary Whitehouse, being in her 50’s during the 1960’s, had been brought up to respect the church, politics and the monarchy; so when she and others saw this attack on establishment, they fought back.

Attack on establishment

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Liberation + Freedom vs. Decline of British culture.

Many things influenced the attack on establishment, mainly the drastic changes in culture and lifestyles, which were influenced by fashion, music and celebrity influences and changes in legislation and society. The “generation gap” in the 1960’s became more and more noticeable as the years went by and was much more significant than ever before. The older generation, figures of authority and parents, had been brought up with order and restriction. They had been raised to a Victorian style ideal, whilst the younger generation, were being raised in an environment of change, liberation and independence. This explains why the older generation were so appalled by the changing behaviour of teenagers.

One of the first attacks came from four undergraduates who created a revue called, “Beyond the Fringe” in 1961. In the show, peter cook, Dudley Moore, Jonathan miller and Alan Bennett made fun of Harold Macmillan, the Church of England and the royal family. The revue was widely seen to be ahead of its time due to in its unapologetic willingness to debunk figures of authority

Fashion e.g. miniskirts

Looked good, new era / disrespectful, shocking

Fashion reached it’s height during the sixties as the younger generation developed a taste in “fast fashion”. With new crazes like the miniskirt going in and out of style within a week, young woman finally felt as though they were expressing themselves. They felt they could feel good without attracting the wrong kind of attention. However, the older generation, parents in particular, were disgusted by the miniskirt as they saw it as a way of attracting men and a form of degradation in which a woman’s image was to seem like a sex object.

The miniskirt provoked strong reactions, which is what the teenagers wanted – to cause a stir. One young woman who was at a party in 1966 claimed she was completely surrounded by men who were trying to measure how far up her knees her skirt came, she said, “some of the older men were just about apoplectic. Luckily I was there with my parents; otherwise I probably wouldn’t be here to tell the tale”. Although there were other, more decent garments in fashion in the sixties such as the maxi, it was more the social change that worried people. Previously, daughters had tried to copy their mother’s style, now it was the other way round.

Celebrities + Music, Drug usage

Idols did the same, made life simple / was unsafe, stupid dangerous

Many people say that the 1960’s were the ultimate decade for music. The Beatles, The Rolling stones and many other talented groups emerged from this period, with collectively a massive amount of number one’s it would seem difficult not to love the music of the sixties. Aaron Copland, the American composer of classical music remarked: “If you want to know about the sixties, play the music of the Beatles”. This quote shows the sheer influence the music of the sixties had on the nation and other nations as a matter of fact. However, the bands didn’t only supply Britain with great music, but also crazy lifestyles and attitudes. The Beatles infamously began their music career with a squeaky clean, boy next door image, however didn’t last long as they began to dress in psychedelic clothing, take drugs and adopt a more and more eccentric pose; all thanks to Maharishi, an Indian guru.

The Beatles now became more and more connected with an alternative culture, which appeared to threaten British society as they were idolised by majority of the youth at the time. The Beatles promoted drug usage which brought strain on the general society and even greater strain on families. However, plenty of teenagers still found the Beatles inspirational and continued to spend money looking and behaving like them. Most of the drugs used in the sixties were relatively harmless, but there were examples of drugs being used to excess: Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin both died from overdoses.

Feminism and woman society

Pill, abortion, divorce, Christian argument

In 1967, the pill was introduced and became available as a safe form of contraceptive in family planning clinics. The pill seemed like a simple solution to a difficult problem for many women, especially that of a younger age, and unlike earlier forms of contraception, it was made available for unmarried women as well as married.

Equal rights for working + middle class

Tv changed viewpoint / not right to think working class is acceptable

More dramas which dealt with everyday issues such as violence,

homelessness and abortion. ‘Cathy Gone Home’ shocked the nation as it

had never been done before

� More working class soaps and comedies such as ‘Coronation Street’

and ‘Steptoe and Son’

Slowly the British media accepted both changes in TV and music.

Therefore television and popular music boomed. The 1960’s popular

culture had been born; things would never be the same again.

Attack on establishment

Liberation + Freedom vs. Decline of British culture.

Furthermore, the assassination of Kennedy had left both the US and Britain in a complete state of shock. People had believed Kennedy was a man of revolution, the key to eliminating racism and other problems in society, so when he was assassinated, the public was outraged – the youth wanted to rebel against everything.

MY OPINION

When asking people what they thought of the sixties, majority of people asked would give positive feedback on the era. These people who speak positively of the era were most probably teenagers at the time. But this doesn’t mean to say that older people hated the 1960’s. It is just individual aspects of the era, such as the ‘Teddy Boys’, which causes some people to speak negatively of this decade

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