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Posted by Philip on 14 December 2014, 11:00 am in , , , , , , , ,

A new conservative era?

Cyndi Lauper with her chequerboard shaveRemember the 1970s? Hippies, free love, communes, punks, safety pins, Saturday-Night Fever, John Travolta, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, long hair, muslin shirts?

Remember the 80s? Androgyny everywhere — Boy George, high hair dyed every colour, guys with eyeliner, Annie Lennox with orange hair, Cyndi Lauper with her chequerboard shave?

Remember the 90s? The internet boom, the Human Rights Act condemning discrimination on the grounds of disability and sexual orientation, poor fashion choices, outstanding hip hop and alt rock music?

Where did it all go? If you're too young to remember these things, you missed growing up at the radical end of a century, which, I believe, conforms to a psycho-social pattern:

The beginnings of centuries are conservative. They become more and more liberal until they end with a couple of decades of slightly chaotic, anarchic radicalism.

I'm no historian, so I don't have reliable data to back up my hypothesis. But here's what I can argue, with my very average general knowledge.

The beginning of the 1900s saw the industrial revolution and workforce regulation as well as two world wars. Prohibition in the United States was a nationwide constitutional ban on the sale, production, importation, and transportation of alcoholic beverages that remained in place from 1920 to 1933. The 1930s depression caused mass unemployment in New Zealand and changed the socio-political landscape.

Fast-forward to 2000 and we get the Twin Towers tragedy, the war on terrorism. The Global Financial Crisis of 2007–2008 is considered by many economists to have been the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The dot-com bubble, peaking in about 1997 and collapsing around 2001, almost marks the century ticking over from a radical cyber-orgy to a conservative cyber-chastity belt.

Look around us now as we move into the latter half of the 21st century's second decade. War in the East, banning legal highs, lowering drink-driving limits and gay marriage (which is ok for equality, but not for buying into heteronormative, stereotypical institutions).

And what happened to fashion? What happened to music? Where have all the crazy hairstyles, the wacky clothes, the gender-bending gone? Swallowed up by gender specific boy- and girl-bands, sensible styles — even university students are there to work rather the push the fashion gamut, thanks to student loans.

Perhaps the only show of radicalism I really see right now is tattooing and piercing (although they have almost become so common that it's edgy not to be adorned). And more people thinking about non-binary gender. That's great.

Millenials, you're in for a bit of a conservative life, I'm afraid. By the time the anarchy rolls around again you'll be tsk-tsking and too old to enjoy it. Unless you're not.

Am I judging? Subjectively perhaps — honestly, I miss the 80s, but then, maybe I just miss being young.

Objectively though, it's just something I've noticed. Wondering if anyone else has too.

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