Fifty years is a long time. And times change. In the mid-1960s, long hair was the marker, the coded symbol of one’s dedicated to The Revolution. Even if one was jittery about breaking a fingernail or tearing the knee of one’s trousers in the struggle to overthrow The Man, one could grow one’s hair down to the floor, if need be, to demonstrate solidarity with the cause.
Then, of course, The Man commodified long hair and, by the mid-’70s, everybody had a mane. In fact, even The (main) Man himself, Lyndon Johnson, let it flow shortly before he died in 1973:
In any case, for a few short years, if you wore your hair long (and this includes women)…
… everybody who caught sight of you would know where you stood on the political spectrum.
For pity’s sake, the definitive Broadway musical about the ’60s was entitled, natch, Hair.
That was then.
Now, there’s a new marker, a new coded symbol in town. Especially in a college town, which is where this dispatch originates. Now it’s not hair but sexual ambiguity and gender indeterminacy that signifies who the revolutionaries are. More and more, young people are eschewing, for instance, pronouns like she and he for the egalitarian they. Bisexuality, omnisexuality, and pansexuality are all the rage these days among the cutting edgers. High school kids bristle at the suggestion they may be either straight or gay. Men wearing skirts and women buzz-cutting their hair
Refusing to identify your preference or your gender is the new flip of the bird, the new flash of the finger to The Man.
Only two more performances left for the Cardinal Stage Company’s production of “Fun Home” — heck, the Saturday matinee is playing as I type this.
Anyway, the show closes tomorrow. But you can hear its star, singer/actor/teacher Amanda Biggs on this week’s Big Talk podcast. Go here for that and then give a listen to WFHB‘s Daily Local News Monday when, on the Big Talk Extra segment, she chats about her youth in small town Illinois and her roots the Pentecostal church.
Big Talk airs every Thursday at 5:30pm and Big Talk Extra is a regular feature of the Daily Local News every Monday at 5pm. Both are on WFHB, 91.3 FM.
It occurs to me that a lot of people in this holy land may soon be moved to…, well, move. The polarization that we see and hear today in mass and social media just may begin to play itself out geographically.
Those who can will at least consider moving to states whose legislatures and traditions more comfortably fit their own worldviews. Just as soon as the US Supreme Court allows states to outlaw abortion, for instance, women will come to understand that some states they live in (Indiana, for one) may be hostile territory for them. Women who cherish reproductive rights — and have the dough to do it — will scoot off to more compatible climes like California and Massachusetts.
We just may start seeing a new migration, that of progressive or left-leaning middle- and upper-middle class people relo-ing over the next 25 to 50 years. It’ll be a hell of a boon for long-distance moving companies. And the home stores like Lowe’s will reap a huge benefit from all those customers hoping to gussy up their new cribs.
The poor, meanwhile, will be stuck where they are, for obvious reasons. That means huge populations of hand-to-mouth blacks, Latinos, and whites (those who lean left) will be trapped in places like Houston or Cleveland even as their states make their very lives all that much more difficult by dismantling social safety nets, allowing discrimination, more effectively restricting their voting access, and enacting more draconian laws directed, specifically, at them. That’ll be a hell of a problem for the state legislatures of the likes of Texas and Ohio. The white senators and representatives in those statehouses will panic as the minority pops. of their big cities grow restive. Naturally, the legislators will eventually authorize force to keep those rabbles docile.
Look for a series of modern-day “long, hot summers” as history repeats itself.
Hell, this may be the start of the eventual break-up of this holy land. I don’t see the United States of America existing in its current form by the turn of the next century. More likely, we’ll see a loose confederation of regions, tied together economically and by the corporations whose wide-ranging tentacles reach into all of our present 50 states. The federal government will become that which de-constructionists have wet-dreamed about for decades, existing only to support a massive military to protect the new US — or however we may refer to ourselves — from outside threats.
And all those state’s rights advocates, those antediluvians we thought had been put in their place in the 60s and 70s, will finally get their way.