tv 1960s- Era Counterculture CSPAN July 19, 2014 5:40pm-6:01pm EDT
>> absolutely. i think that is one of the great ironies is that the parents imagine that by moving very often from cities to suburbs, where they would be safe, you know, it would be the best possible environment because these are people, their parents who, as he said, lived through world war ii, live through the depression, and then their children moved into the inner cities, often in unsafe neighborhoods, and reject the kind of comfort of their parents, and so you have for instance gemstar plan saying hey, man, i want to live super hyper now. the last thing i want to do is basically be like my parents and sit and die in front of the television set. so they are really pushing back against a kind of safety and security comfort.
they are not buying that at all. they want lives -- they are restless people. and i think because of the suburbs that they grew up in, where there was not a lot of excitement, so they are reacting to what they see as an adventure deficit in the american culture. >> the assassinations of the 1960's, mlk, jfk, robert kennedy, the vietnam war -- how much did those events play into this movement? >> i think you're right, what most will thought would be their birth right, and the war in vietnam, in particular, as he say, the incredible violence of great leaders being struck down in the prime of their life. a lot of people think, maybe american society is not what we thought it was going to be, and maybe we should challenge some of the assumptions that lay behind it, so yeah, the counterculture is very much about rethinking those premises based on violence and some of the hypocrisy that are inherent
to the american dream. >> we have been focusing a lot on the feminist movement during this time period. what was happening in the 1960's? >> the 1960's was ephemeral moment because on the one hand, a number of women through their participation in the civil rights movement and the antiwar movement are beginning to have new and exciting expressive, but they are also expressing sexism in these movements as well, so that create the kind of contradiction. they are also able to experience sexuality in a somewhat freer way by virtue of the birth control pill. but again, they also are experiencing not only new kinds of sex but also greater sexual exploitation. and so i think, you know, they are in a situation in which they
are facing a lot of contradiction. heightened contradictions that then result in the flowering of the feminist movement. >> i am reminded about the progress of the 1950's where lucille ball could not be seen as pregnant. in the 1960's, the "dick van dyke show" where they slept in separate beds, and now you turn on television today. what a difference. >> oh, my gosh, right. and what you just described, which was in some ways let's face it a kind of hypocrisy about what it was. that happened between men and women it relies in which television and the mass media mask so much about what real-life was about, and going off what allison said, so maybe when the 1950's, and it was not just young people, said i want something more authentic. i want something more genuine. they wanted risking their lives, but they also wanted -- the 1960's is a political period but also a cultural period of rebellion, and so when those to hit each other, you got a
challenge where people lived, and their dining room, living room, and like you said, their bedrooms. >> what about the rise of drug use in this period? >> mom and dad can have a couple of martinis that night and maybe mom takes a sleeping pill to go to sleep or dad takes benzedrine to wake up for his job. why can't we also then take a drug, x, y, z, marijuana, lsd, it was kind of a consumer revolution in a funny way. who gets to decide what is in the marketplace and what is not? and these kids challenging so many parts of everyday life also challenge -- why not marijuana, why not lsd? >> consider the panoply of drugs that they were also given by the student health center during examination time so they could study more effectively. that was widely done.
it was not unusual for student health centers to pass out drugs that were effectively speed to help students through examination. they would give soldiers speed on the assumption that it would help them perform more efficiently. >> let's get to the roots of all of this because right now we live in this digital information age. in the 1960's, you had the rise of radio, the color television, rise of the half-hour newscasts, networks really bringing the events to the home but also entertainment to the homes, and the changes in media and technology. >> that is good inside, and some people have called this the tv generation. the baby boomers, those who came to age in the 1950's were literally the first generation to grow up on television, and while today it seems so funny that this little narrow pipe of information would be so explosive, it was in many ways. for the first time people were seeing things on national television.
i think the civil rights movement would not have had what he did without national representations of racial injustice. so it is totally true -- media is the message. the tv generation saw what no generation had seen before and it did affect consciousness. >> you want to follow-up? >> i was a bout vietnam, tv was the repertoires, the shock of american soldiers, napalm -- i mean, that was very much consciousness raising. and i know we have not had images that sparked really a sense of wartime, and i think that was very mobilizing of the antiwar consciousness in america. >> can you underscore the effect of the draft and the impact it had on this generation? >> if television is the symbol, the draft makes the reality of a war in asia media.
not that everyone by any means went to vietnam awards going to be drafted, but it was possible for every young man at least to face the existential decision, should i go to war? is this the right war? is this war going to kill me? and we have not since the vietnam war faced that generational immediacy. >> did the american government ever fully explain what it is all about? >> that goes again to the definition of what you are told and what may be really is. so there was a kind of hypocrisy about the war in vietnam. i think most americans understood it as a simple struggle between good and evil. there were communists tried to take over an innocent the democratic country in the south, and it was our duty in some ways to preserve freedom for those people in south vietnam facing aggression. that was not really quite the true story. the story was a civil war, and it is a story about a nation becoming autonomous.
it is hard to get that knowledge, and that is where the antiwar movement in some way serves as the base of a new primitive set of information as well as activity. >> going back to your earlier point, some might have questioned vietnam, others said you salute smartly and you serve. >> absolutely true. wasn't this truly and robert mcnamara's own family where craig, i believe his son, was someone who opposed the draft, opposed the war and that absolutely happens in families. it was not just young people who begin to discern a credibility gap. mainstream media over time, walter cronkite media, saw that there was what we called the credibility gap here. so that was in many ways i think -- there was a credibility gap that motivated and animated civil rights protesters going
back to the 1950's and the end of world war ii. we fought for our country, returning black soldiers, and this is how we treated? and so the rhetoric that was so much in play in the early cold war years, that rhetoric about america is a beacon of freedom and democracy and liberty coming up against the reality on the ground was something that was radical i think for many young people, led them to civil rights, and eventually when we begin to understand what is happening in vietnam, brings them out to fight against the vietnam war. >> talk about janis joplin, the beatles, the music of the 1960's. >> in some ways, they're following what they are learning from their peers come other cohorts, from young people, on
the other hand they are also leading them, so it is both at the same time a reflection of the turmoil, the uncertainty, the search for something more authentic that young people are feeling, and it is the music of the people who can give voice to those feelings, make them heard so other say yeah, that is what i am feeling also. i think that is why amazingly enough that music still lives. it has something authentic to it. it resonated with people and still does. >> what about the other cultural elements? movies, fashion, what people saw in war. >> the fashion, absolutely. you think about history, which was what americans, american kids saw as the british invasion. the fashion, the british music invasion, is a funny sort of situation because if you think about it, these people like john
lennon and paul mccartney and mick jagger and all of the other guys, really, mostly, who were involved in the british invasion were looking longingly at america. they thought america was like the hippest, the greatest, and they come over here of course and they see something different. they're not sure it is so great. what you mean you don't know who muddy waters is, right, i think is one of the changes between one of the beatles and a reporter who was interviewing them. and then of course we are looking longingly at england and the fashions coming out of there, the short shorts, the shorthair, twiggy. and then basically recycled american r&b and many respects. >> you have a catalyst, which is an easy cocktail conversation. >> barbra streisand -- >> the barbra streisand sharing contemporary women's studies at the university of southern california.
>> what does that mean and what is her involvement in this research? >> barbra streisand and out a chair back in the mid-1980's, and i believe i am the fourth or fifth person to occupy or hold at this charity university of southern california, and it goes to somebody whose scholarship is really rooted in the scholarship around gender, studies, and studies of women and men, so the mercy of southern california with one of the first women's studies programs to actually move or the consideration of gender and relations between men and women more broadly, and she has been the benefactor and is much appreciated. >> david farber, as you look at what happened in the 1960's, this generation now, parents and grand currents and now very quickly moving into retirement.
>> yeah, it is interesting to watch television commercials aiming toward how can you spend your retirement using the visit of the 1960's to talk to the people who lived through that period. it seared their consciousness, whether they were for it or against it. the 1960's in that sense a stove or much live. >> based on that, explain in historical terms why it was a pivotal decade. >> so many had talents what was commission all wisdom, what it meant to be a man, what it meant to be a woman, what it meant to be patriotic, what it meant to defend. those hard, big questions, all kind of exploded some ways simultaneously, so i think we do live with the legacy of that period even this half-century later. >> part of that legacy is the role of the feminist movement and also the sexuality that you
touched on earlier. >> absolutely. we would not have gay marriage, we would not have discussions about the expansion of marriage to include gay people had there not been a feminist movement. this would not have happened. and i think that has to be understood as being critical to the ways in which feminism changed our cultural and social landscape and political landscape is a notion of the personal and political. that essentially the ways in which people live their lives, who did the cooking, who did the cleaning up, how people, yes, even had sex together. those were not simply personal issues. they had a kind of political task, so feminism was really about engaging on the ground with the really important issues.
some of which were within the four walls of a house or of an apartment, not even of an apartment, but really showcasing that, thinking through relations of power. so the walls around domestic violence, around race -- those would not have happened without feminism. just would not have happened. now, i do think that sometimes the personal and political could be understood in ways that were prescriptive. for instance, we would not have had bill clinton, i suspect, so mercilessly hounded around the scandal had there been this idea of the personal and political that impacts politicians and their personal life should be held accountable. so i think, you know, it is cut in all kinds of ways, some of which i heartily approve, and some of which i find more problematic, but you know, it was not going to be a situation by the time we get feminism
changing consciousness in which a president could have affairs on the side in which would remain unremarked upon. >> if you were to put together a time capsule of some of the most iconic moments of the 1960's that really shaped that generation, what would you include in it? >> i would go with the citizens of 1960. i think they really change people's consciousness and a refined way, and i think the civil rights movement created a template. so we can start with john f. kennedy's assassination in 1963, that change people's imagination. the civil rights act, the 1965 march in selma, 1966 and 1967, the flowering of the haight-ashbury, the protests in the streets in 1968, the riots in 1968, the list goes on. woodstock.
it does not stop so fast. >> what would you include? >> i would include james brown, actually. i think that james brown brings a message of black pride that is really unprecedented. >> his 45 would go any time capsule. "i am black and i am proud." >> he would need the record player, too. >> seeing him on the ed sullivan show, i think that is an important moment. i think the black power moment more generally when carmichael and others take up the call of black power. i would say the miss america protest, 1958, when feminists go to atlantic city and a challenge -- >> the barrel. so we have the barrel in there,
james brown records. >> but they did not bring their bras. many people think that feminists actually burned bras at the miss america protest. it never happened. they thought about it, and they did not. >> why did that become a myth? >> well, because it had been discussed. >> and the alliteration, bra burner, it is too good to pass up. >> it just did not happen. i think they were onto something. i think it might've been robin morgan who first brought the idea up. you can also see how the media could turn it against you, as had happened. >> let me conclude, and i will start with david farber, you are not only studying in this period, but you lived through it. >> i am more of a 1970's kid than a 1960's kid, but i was born in. i have a fond memory of growing up in chicago and going to the
park and seeing the hippies, as i thought of the demonstrators at the time. but i had hair not much longer than i do now, but the police who were in the part saw me, and i was throwing a football around for goodness sake, and they said hey, girly, where are you going. and i said i am growing a football, give me a break. that is my memory of the 1960's. >> alice echols. >> i remember janis joplin performed in washington, d.c. and everybody wanted to know, what she fabulous? and at that particular time, she was not. [laughter] but that would be one of my -- certainly one of the searing but not perhaps the best of spirits that i had in the 1960's. >> alice echols from the university of southern california and david farber from temple university, both of you, thank you very much. >> thank you.
>> you were watching american history tv, 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span 3. follow us on twitter at c-span history for upcoming rogue rams and to keep up with the latest history news. >> oliver wendell holmes jr. served in the union army from 1861 to 1864 and he was wounded three times in battle. next, a panel of scholars look at the impact of the civil war on the life of the future supreme court justice, including how his time as a soldier saved his career. supreme court historical society hosted this. >> welcome to the supreme court. it is great to see so many people here for the supreme court historical society's section lacks -- a second lecture of the 2014 government lecture series.