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  • angelonecaitlin

2000 to 1960

The year is 2003 and the United States is still feeling the ramifications of a terrorist attack on American soil, 9/11. In pop culture, a lot has changed since 2001. In a re-watching of the popular show TRL (Total Request Live) my husband and I noticed one glaring difference from previous years, viewers were no longer able to fill the studio due to greater restrictions, but not all changes are as obvious.

In 2003, my journal was filled with psychedelic glitter stickers, a possible signifier of the resurgence in the Hippie or Psychedelic countercultures from the 1960s that began in the 2000s, but why was this aesthetic being recycled again?

Digging into some history of the time, I learned some possible reasons why my room was filled with smiley faces and lava lamps.

President Bill Clinton paid a three-day visit to Vietnam in 2000, vowing to help clear landmines left there from the Vietnam War (1955-1975). It was the first American Presidential visit since Richard Nixon in 1969. There were even campaigns for clearing landmines. My middle school participated in an event called “The Night of a Thousand Dinners,” a humanitarian effort to raise money to clear landmines around the world leftover from previous wars. This visit and promotion undoubtedly brought attention to a decade of countercultures and aesthetics that were not known to adolescents of this period.

George Bush took the presidency in 2001 and with 9/11 as encouragement, the President propelled America into wars with Afghanistan and Iraq. These wars deploy massive amounts of troops not seen since Vietnam. Rumors of a draft swirl as military forces target schools for future recruitment. It is very possible the teens of the 2000s identified with those of the original peace and Hippie movements brought on in the 1960s by Vietnam as teens were drafted into war and incorporated the aesthetic into their current popular trends.

We continue to follow other similar trends, like using music as a movement.

In 2004, punk and alternative musicians created Rock Against Bush, a project to mobilize listeners to not only vote against Bush in his 2004 re-election campaign but support a message of anti-war and pro-peace. Bands toured in support of voter registration, especially those in swing states where there was a chance they could change the public's mind with music. Music had a similar role during the Vietnam War, as a counterculture grew with bands like Buffalo Springfield, Marvin Gaye, and Joan Baez.

Although the Rock Against Bush movement did not achieve its goal, it did make a large group of adolescents more familiar with politics they may not have otherwise interacted with and we see that moving forward in the campaign for Barack Obama. Above, we can see clippings for advertisements of the album pasted in my journal.

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