Commentary: Kutulas, 2017; "After Aquarius Dawned" Afficher plus
As a preview, it looks like the next chapter, "The Look I Want To Know Better" is about masculinity and the male experience of the decade(s), particularly in terms of class and consumption and discussing the impact of marketing as well as wider social and economic trends.
There's also plenty of 'oh this sounds familiar' lines, so expect a bit of snark in the commentary.
Going to be an interesting read as well.
Commentary: Kutulas, 2017; "After Aquarius Dawned"; discussions of relationships, heterosexuality, (cis)gender politics Afficher plus
Kutulas holds that the late 70s had no predominant musical genre. Singer-songwriters weren't well-suited to the larger venues that other successful acts moved to, to capitalise on their (again, mainly middle-class) listeners' disposable income. Disco was commercially successful, but the style tended to appeal to the more marginalised (particularly to African-America, Latinx, and LGBTQ people) and so failed to gain the respect of the establishment. Some middle-class youth still dabbled in disco, and some working-class men railed against it.
Overall, Kutulas holds, male critics continued to define authenticity according to their class, racial and gender biases. Bruce Springsteen is here criticized as fusing the singer-songwriter relationship tropes with more traditionally masculine themes, with songs focusing on declining male privilege while relegating women to symbols of domesticity. Springsteen illustrated how the bleaker late-70s economy constrained.
As these cultural messages of gender and sexual revolution spread, the musical tastes of some baby boomers mattered less and less - but it was still true that at least some of the interpersonal and sexual values modeled by earlier singer-songwriters were incorporated into cultural and musical discourse. Yankelovich's dispersion of new views had occurred. By he late 70s, the push for self-fulfiment had, in his opinion, spread to "virtually the entire US population" while Macklin, a psychologist, observed that by the end of the 70s even older people were adopting these views and values on cohabitation, divorce and sex outside of marriage.
And, these norms still predominate today. Two-thirds of Americans find premarital sex morally acceptable, and a third do not consider it important that a couple should marry if they want to spend their lives together. Peggy Orenstein (a feminist novelist) considers that popular culture is still helping American youth define sexual norms, though she finds that the medium is now pornography rather than music (with all the issues that brings). Orenstein agrees that a shift happened through the 60s and 70s that saw the decline of traditional authorities' ability to police young adults' sexuality, replaced by the 'super-peer' of the media. But, Orenstein argues, it was an illusion of liberation rather than any real liberation. The promises of romantic and sexual equality were never realised, and now young people have the Internet to contend with.
I guess the overall take-away here is that for all that we may think everything changed in terms of sexual politics for heterosexual people, they didn't change much at all. There were substantive changes in the law that enabled greater economic equality and meant that (cis) women no longer had to rely on a husband for financial stability - but the interpersonal side of things really didn't change much at all.
I've heard of a few books that go deeper into the co-option of this watered-down 'liberation', but I never did get to reading any of them. And I definitely feel that a big part of the battle(s) between sex positivity and modern feminism could be resolved if more figures in those movements read into the history from these times - because heck, it seems like a lot of the fundamental points of contention have their origins in this era, and like a lot of the other issues they remain unresolved. You can't come to a conclusion if you can't remember how the argument started.
But overall, it's a pretty heavy opening chapter, that's left me with a lot to think about.
Commentary: Kutulas, 2017; "After Aquarius Dawned"; discussions of relationships, heterosexuality, (cis)gender politics Afficher plus
Critics also saw singer-songwriter's music as devoid of political consciousness; singer-songwriters exposed themselves as people of privileged status, with the time and money to 'find themselves' - which Kutulas writes of as the ultimate countercultural luxury. Being middle-class was what made them cultural forerunners (as early adopters were in tech, and as holds in many other fields). But, this also distinguished their relationships from traditional marriage - me-ness rather than we-ness. The relationships imagined by singer-songwriters emphasized the enhancement of the individual and meeting their needs - discouraging permanence.
And, most of their works emphasized the transience of relationships. While later films embellished the idea that love did not need to last forever to be meaningful, singer-songwriters were the first to justify the impermanence of love. And notably, it was done more or less non-judgmentally. Earlier breakup songs tended to clearly distinguish bad dating situations from good, and apportion blame - but to singer-songwriters, there were no perfect matches, and romance was simply unpredictable.
This built a vision of breakups being reasonable, ending the cultural stigma of breakups as a failure at romance. No-fault divorce probably contributed to this too. The new breakup songs soothes and reassured, providing affirmation of the decision to break up that was unlikely to be found from young people's parents, or other authority figures. They downplayed blame and judgement, instead emphasizing the capacity for rebirth and encouraging listeners to learn from their mistakes and try again. Kutulas: "It was a romantic arc both modern and traditional, focused on the self but maintaining distinctive gendered roles. It was the counterculture’s version of love projected into a real world where men and women still were not equal."
Kutulas goes further, to hold that singer-songwriter works about relationships still confirmed a very traditional view of gender roles. Relationships were women's domain, a feminist-inspired version of commitment intended to give women more romantic control. But this new agency undermined men's sexual freedom, thus leading to conflict. Pop psychology books reinforced this narrative of a disjoint between women's expectations and what men were prepared to deliver, assuming that men were unwilling to commit to one partner and needed to 'find themselves', while women wanted more 'personal' relationships and simply had to work around this. Singer-songwriters confirmed that women still had more to lose and gain in relationships, even without legal commitment. Women remained culturally positioned as the nurturers of men and relationships, and even with the development and normalisation of 'relationships', men retained most of their privilege and social power. Women gained some freedom and autonomy, but it remained "an unequal compromise".
Still, what singer-songwriters taught 'liberated' women was how to recover from breakups stronger and without guilt, reversing pop's narrative of women as helpless victims and instead creating a vision of assertiveness. Carly Simon's (infamous) 'You're So Vain' was a brief anthem - not a song of longing or passivity, but an open taunt at men's egos. (Fun fact: Simon has told a small number of people who the song is about - it's actually about three different men. One was Warren Beatty, but the other two remain unknown for now. Taylor Swift and a couple of other people know.)
This echoed a trend of 1970s self-help, assertiveness training - which was particularly aimed at women. Assertiveness training was meant to teach women how to articulate their needs and feelings, negotiating the gendered reality that did not intrinsically benefit them and accomodate the stalled feminist revolution that put the onus for liberation on them. Unfortunately, this brief upturn ended, as many female singer-songwriters' careers began to decline. Carly Simon, particularly, had a difficult time - her highly-publicized life and openness about sexuality resulted in objectification, and as for many of her colleagues survival in the (then) male-dominated industry was difficult and exhausting.
Meanwhile, male singer-songwriters helped to artistically reclaim the male fantasy, though with a complicated view of women's assertiveness and sexuality. Breakup songs were still a staple of 1970s singer-songerwriters, but among male artists older stereotypes of women persisted. Bob Dylan, particularly, was called out by Anna Quindlen over the content of 'Blood on the Tracks' (1975) as embodying the “self- pitying cry of a wounded male chauvinist" - not that it stopped anything. Another writer for Ms magazine likened it to film plots in which unmarried men were to be pitied for bearing the personal costs of modern feminism.
Kutulas goes on to discuss the changes in 'liberation' around sex specifically. Feminist sex researchers of the 1970s made efforts to force the mainstream to acknowledge women's pleasure and sexuality, while mainstream researchers noticed that as women became more assertive in the bedroom, more and more men experienced sexual problems. As women gained sexual experience and came to expect pleasure, men began to feel threatened and inadequate. But, despite feminist discourses about mutuality, men still held cultural dominance - so, by the close of the 70s, excess prevailed over sensitivity and the female singer-songwriters were overtaken by the disco movement's female artists, who I gather took a very, *very* different view of things.
Overly-assertive female sexuality didn't just disturb those men already feeling insecure - it also deeply disturbed conservatives, who saw it as threatening to the family unit. 'Marriage enhancement movements' proscribed a submissive role to women with the promise that it would protect their marriages. And the media blamed women's sexual liberation for increasing male violence (including date rape); a profile of the Son-of-Sam killer focused particularly on his masculinity and views of women, suggesting that this was what drove him to murder. Experts condemned predatory male behavior, but laws and customs changed slowly or not at all - women were still often the ones blamed for it all, because they had disrupted sexual and gender dynamics (which presumably were felt to have been absolutely fine by those who had absolutely no idea of the realities).
The feminist version of liberation was further overtaken by a male-defined version. While women were happy to embrace legal and economic equality, romantic equality and the other issues within home life seemed unattainable. Male singer-songwriters helped to establish a stereotype that persists today of pleasure-seeking men who never quite grow up, but overall singer-songwriters lost their popularity to disco, punk, arena rock and heavy metal as the 70s went on.
Commentary: Kutulas, 2017; "After Aquarius Dawned"; discussions of relationships, heterosexuality, (cis)gender politics Afficher plus
Kutulas points to Carole King's Tapestry (1971), and 'I Feel The Earth Move' as a pivotal moment here. I'm gathering that by this point, King had divorced; she wrote the entire song herself, which gave her a good deal more freedom. King connected with young women, and she didn't fit into rock's stereotypes; she was instead described as a sort of 'earth mother', with articles describing the recording of the album and the cover photographed in her own home, suggesting a life similar to that of her fans. King's personal story and changing style resonated too - and apparently, even forty years later women still approach her with stories about how Tapestry inspired them. Oh, and it took in four Grammies.
The industry was forced to reassess its image of women's musical tastes and consumption in the wake of Tapestry's success, and and companies scrambled to aim their marketing towards women. An ad for Joni Mitchell's 'Ladies of the Canyon' featured a (fictional) story of a fan listening to the album after a breakup and extolling Mitchell as 'someone else...who really knew' - a familiar experience to fans. Carly Simon's producer distributed copies of 'That's the Way I Always Heard it Should Be' among receptionists and secretaries at radio stations to build demand. Kutulas holds that Mitchell, Simon, and Carol King became cultural touchstones for young women in the early 70s through a combination of marketing efforts and word-of-mouth.
And, importantly, this music also helped to shift the narrative around women's relationships and sexuality. Women in these songs were the subject for once, and brought their perspectives to the romance narrative - providing "meaningful snippets of sexual expression for young women who had few other compelling female perspectives on modern love".
But, the contradictions were still present. Female performers' biographies, and the way they were spoken and written about by the music establishment, were still an issue. But this also provided some impromptu consciousness-raising - the common experience of objectification helped to bond female fans with female performers. The music industry in this time was almost exclusively male at the top, as were the critics - so they had no issue commenting more about a woman's looks and love life than her chart performances or musical career. Kutulas includes quotes from Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon, about their experiences with the music media of the time - Mitchell was irritated by Rolling Stone's repeat charting of her previous relationships, and Carly Simon was offended by the behavior of several interviewers, as well as disliking the photograph used for the cover of Playing Possum.
Joni Mitchell: “There was no free love...It came with great strings attached. It was free for men, but not for women, same as it ever was.” And same as it still is in some ways.
Polls from the era concur with Mitchell's assessment. Women were overall far more cautious about their sexuality, and this may well have contributed to how so many women connected with female singer-songwriters too. A Harris poll conducted in 1971 also noted something else - a lot of women unhappy with the way they were treated by men, with many agreeing with the statement 'men find it necessary for their egos to keep women down' and half agreeing that 'most men are more interested in their own sexual satisfaction than a woman's'. These 'ordinary women', Kutulas holds, reshaped sexual politics by holding their partners to higher standards around intimacy and autonomy.
And this is where the term 'relationship' originated. 'Dating' was too formal as a term, 'going steady' was a TV line - so 'relationship' seemed to best convey the romantic and sexual arrangements of unmarried adults. By 1977, about a quarter of all US college students had cohabited at some point, and about half saw no problem with a couple cohabiting before or without being married.
These three prominent female singer-songwriters presented portraits of modern relationships through both their songs and their lives, and that were largely consistent with the experiences of their listeners. Loraine Alterman, for example, suggested that Joni Mitchell's work had “a special meaning to all women who are caught in the basic dilemma of knowing they must realize their own potential at the same time they still want to find...love.” Through this music, as well as following the performer's personal lives, young women saw peers who constructed attainable and satisfying versions of modern romance.
(I'll note as well that, as explained in the introduction, Kutulas isn't sticking to a particular chronology here; she tends to go back and forth a bit in the chapter.)
Kutulas holds as well that this 'new woman' was distinct from feminists, which provided enhanced status for women who wanted more freedom but were wary of association with what was a contentious movement at the time. Alterman felt that the feminist movement of the 70s was excessively pedantic and zealous, which put young women off. King, Simon and Mitchell were all heterosexual, but they challenged norms without being too socially transgressive. They embodied independence, self-reliance and sexual confidence, but still found room for romance. (Needless to say, they were not popular with feminists of the time.)
Their music also recognized women's changing aspirations. Prior to equal pay, affirmative action, or other reforms largely won by feminism, a lack of economic opportunity and stability pushed most women into marriage. But for the increasing numbers of college-educated women, a husband was no longer needed for economic stability. By 1980, more women were receiving bachelor's degrees than men in US colleges, more than half of all adult women were working, and two-thirds of unmarried 25yo women lived out of home. And as these young women moved out of home - to live on their own, with roommates, or with partners - and earned their own money, they engaged in much more material and self-expression. Their chosen singer-songwriters helped to provide cultural cues to their lifestyles.
So, the 70s saw the growth of a woman-centered culture, shaped by a mainstreamed version of feminism as well as by demographic realities. Single, college-educated working women were an emergent market segment, and one both unprepared for independent living and culturally conditioned into insecurity. This culture offered them realizable visions of freedom. The struggling-to-be-liberated woman became a popular culture figure in sitcoms like The Mary Tyler Moore Show (also discussed later), on Carly Simon's No Secrets cover, or in Joni Mitchell's Blue. Simon, Mitchell and King expressed in autobiographical songs how modern women could balance feminism and the sexual revolution, how to balance romance, independence, and desire.
But this failed to reach men. This was the era of the 'cock rocker'. Angela Carter observed in 1980 that 'liberated' had come to be a euphemism for 'promiscuous'; while women incorporated parts of feminism into their worldview that helped to open up their lives, middle-class men would at best pay some lip service to feminism while hiding the anxiety it provoked in its threats to their privilege. As women moved from object to subject outside of rock culture, the men within rock culture solidifier their hold. The only commonality was the shift in lyrical style around romance.
Female singer-songwriters were permitted to coexist alongside rock, but male singer-songwriters were not. While James Taylor's female fans saw him as an example of the 'new man' (discussed later), and he had a reputation to go with it, the hard rockers hated him. The gentlest criticism levelled at him came from Robert Christgau - yes, the same one who found Simon a revelation - who conceded that Taylor was intelligent, liberal and good, but leading a retreat from rock music and from masculinity. Taylor's music and presentation resonated with women - thus undermining the fantasies of the more hedonistic male rock fans.
While Kutulas holds that Taylor attracted the most vitriol, Paul Simon and other male singer-songwriters were equally panned by rock media. The male singer-songwriters that Kutulas mentions - James Taylor, Paul Simon, Jim Croce and Jackson Browne - were all married, writing songs to their children, keeping concerts simple, and were criticized as leading 'quiet middle-class lives'. As such, their public personae undermined the image of the rockstar.
But the truth always comes out. Kutulas holds that the lives of the male singer-songwriters were not models of romantic equality. They too expressed unease at the 'new woman', and the impact of her sexuality. Although they were less crude than the rockstars, their common theme was still often the victimization of men by female sexuality. Browne even managed to refashion the real-life story of meeting his wife into such a tale. The temptress became a recurring figure in male singer-songwriter's music, as a symbol of how assertive womanhood threatened the male fantasy of 'free love'.
Male singer-songwriters were ultimately in a genre dominated by women and regarded as feminized by critics, so they struggled to maintain their public status as Real Men(TM). Particularly, in interviews they often dropped stories of sexual exploits or substance abuse, and took on symbols of rebelliousness; Taylor was particularly nasty towards Carly Simon in an interview shortly after they were married, and I don't feel too positive about reading into the rest of their marriage. Most critics failed to notice these attempts to reassert masculinity, instead focusing on what male singer-songwriters had in common with the female colleagues - self-absorption.
(Oh, also, I should add here - the author's name is *Judy* Kutulas. I just checked my citation post. I think I got a bit mixed up there.
I also want to add here that while there is a later chapter on the experiences of LGBTQ people, this chapter seems to be largely about the experiences of cishet men and women. So if it seems a little off, that's why.)
Let's rewind a little.
Young people had started to move away from the 1950s conception of date>go steady>get married>sex. Since the 60s, most spaces were a lot less gender-segregated, and so the date wasn't as necessary as a means for people to interact and scope out one another. Add in the invention of hormonal contraceptives (that by the 70s were easily available to young, single women) ending the fear of pregnancy and the old etiquette seemed outdated. That seems very much the case now - dating is still a way of scoping someone out, but more in a sense of long-term prospects than simply getting to know one another.
College campuses were the main place that the writers Kutulas cites were looking for their evidence; I do wonder if increasing rates of attendance (especially among women) might have been a partial driver as well. And if there were still obvious divides.
Kutulas also makes a good point about the impact of Playboy and later Cosmopolitan, and how 60s and 70s youth found them problematic. Aside from increasing rates of premarital sex and unmarried cohabiting, there was also a lot of normalization in the language and discussion, especially around women's sexuality. But, this entire discussion was still situated within a discourse of individuality and freedom.
Back to music. Carly Simon's 'That's the Way I Always Heard It Should Be' is pointed out as a groundbreaking moment. It brought an epiphany for one reviewer - Robert Christgau - who had the epiphany that, contrary to stereotypes, young women were afraid of being 'tied down' by marriage too. The song challenged listeners to think about what they had been taught in marriage, and particularly consider that attraction could wane over time.
Goffin & King's 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?' is pointed to as embodying one of women's fears around premarital sex (which Carol King certainly knew about - she was married to Goffin at 17 and pregnant on her wedding day, which wasn't at all unusual at the time) but by the 70s, it was relatively easy for young, single women attending college to obtain The Pill and most did.
Naturally, there was backlash from popular culture. Sixties rock music didn't care, but its vision of sexuality didn't really mesh with lived realities - by the end of the 60s, rock had become largely defined by men, and thus its vision of sexuality was largely defined by (presumably cishet) men. While for young people generally, rock music's visions were out of step with their lives, this was particularly so for women.
I'm happy that Kutulas (briefly) interrogates the nature of the 'free love' phenomenon and how counterculture treated women and women's sexuality. Feminists of the time were right to point out that 'free love' was never really free in a world where men still had so much more power. Kutulas points to the stereotype of the 'hippie chick' as a less inhibited, playful character who rebelled against her parents, pleased men, and expected little more. And the 'hippie chick' became the 'groupie'...we all know how that ended for so many. The overall ethos of the sexual revolution, combined with the easy availability of contraception, had a dark side - Kutulas claims that they took control away from women. Dating had an implicit social contract that allowed women to set the level of intimacy; with the end of that, "young women discovered they had either to comply with male sexual expectations or gain a reputation as sexually repressed." And that has never really been resolved either.
(With that being said, I'm loath to put too much blame on The Pill. But I may be biased for personal reasons. Plus, given what I've heard of the experiences of women prior to the 60s (through geneaology and historical feminist works) I'm not really convinced that dating or the expectation of marriage was much of a defense. I'd put it that it's fairer to say that The Pill and the change in the social narrative failed to make any difference there, and perhaps made the situation worse in some ways. I just don't buy that anything was significantly better before, and I have reasons for my skepticism.)
Anyway, back to music. Kutulas holds that singer-songwriters helped to bridge this divide. They were much more relateable in appearance and writing, and their musical style emphasized lyrics, which made this music to listen to alone and think about. White middle-class youth found in the singer-songwriter a peer guide to life, romance, and sex - and this was especially so for women, who had previously never really been included in that way.
Commentary: Kutulas, 2017; "After Aquarius Dawned" Afficher plus
Kutulas explores much of this subject through the lens of the media, particularly through music. For convenience's sake, the musicians she refers to are: Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, Carole King; she also extensively brings up James Taylor, and mentions Paul Simon, Jim Croce and Jackson Browne as well.
I'm not really familiar with any of them, so I can't comment much on any of their music. I recognise a few of the songs mentioned, but I've never heard any of them in full. The general themes and tropes however are pretty recognisable. Heck, this is where a lot of them started.
It might seem kind of odd to look at this subject through this lens, but there's a good reason for that. Kutulas holds that at the time, music was one of the prime mediums for communicating culture - it was quick to produce (she quotes a producer of the time claiming a two-week turnaround on records), it was far less regulated than other media in terms of what types of relationships (and what aspects of them) could be shown, and through radio play it became a shared experience.
There had also been a major shift in listener culture, primarily via the Beatles: "Unlike most previous artists, the Beatles wrote their own songs...The Beatles took control over the rest of the creative process as well, by imagining orchestrations and album cover art...Fans learned to “expect meaning and significance” from their music and lives, according to Goldstein. By 1967’s Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, thoughtful listeners interrogated lyrics, discerned musical influences, formed aesthetic opinions, and identified with performers’ intentions and values. To discuss music knowledgeably and make informed musical choices required familiarity with performers’ backstories, a rock music vocabulary, and awareness of the critical reception of songs....Complexity made rock music personal."
And so, musicians became public figures and role models: "By the 1970s, musicians had become celebrities young people followed. Many could recite not only their discographies, but also the names of their lovers or children...Magazines and newspapers eager to gain baby boomers as readers showcased musicians’ lifestyles, and professional critics served up authoritative opinions about the relative value of different singers and songs." Kutulas points to Rolling Stone and Village Voice as two major examples, and goes on to talk a bit about market segmentation of music fans.
(The music media establishment becomes important at several points.)
Rock and roll had already "undermined authority, loosened inhibitions, and dramatized peer experiences", and was associated with a rebellious culture that emphasized looking to your peers for what was 'cool' rather than obeying parental authority. Rock had fallen out of favour by the 60s, but the Beatles revived its authenticity and established music as a generational peer rite.
And then the Beatles broke up in 1969. Since their fans were big spenders, record companies needed a replacement. James Taylor was one attempt at this - his first album wasn't well-received by critics, but he found a niche with the college-age demographic while also embodying the counterculture of the 60s. But, he lacked rock authenticity.
Kutulas holds that *male* rebellion was what defined rock authenticity. Male consumers mattered more to rock; the tastemakers in rock were mostly young white (cishet, probably) men, who believed their opinions to be objective. The record industry assumed that women chose their music based on the performer's attractiveness, not the quality of their songs. How little that has changed...
So, to maintain authenticity, rock music could never become too popular. Singer-songwriters were disproportionately female, and mainly enjoyed by the college demographic. Commercially, they were valuable too - but, they were not authentic to rock fans. Critics claimed that the rise of singer-songwriters signalled the end of rock music altogether.
Does this sound familiar? "Their [singer-songwriter's] music lacked social commentary; it was far too focused on performers’ autobiographical details. The rock establishment used words like “‘wimpy,’ ‘navel- gazing,’ ‘narcissistic,’ and worse” to describe performers like Taylor, as one critic later noted. Even a feminist critic like Ellen Willis called them “upper- class brats,” performers lacking street cred. But they spoke to middle- class youth “creeping out of post- adolescence toward some kind of proto- adulthood” and, as a Saturday Review writer opined, hungry for “artists who personify themselves."
Rebellion was the motivator for young people in the 60s; by the 70s, they were trying to build modern lives and differentiate themselves from their parents at once. Chuck Klosterman described this as a 'Carly Simon Principle', and held that singer-songwriters, through comforting music, helped the middle-class youth reconcile their lived experiences with the 60s.
Kutulas points to the Carly Simon Principle particularly around romantic narratives in music, which singer-songwriters effectively 'modernized'. The Hollywood Production Code of the 1930s forbade any real depiction of sexuality onscreen, and I'd imagine that premarital sex or cohabitation was definitely off the cards too. The dating>marriage>sex narrative was still part of commercial music well into the 60s, but it was quickly becoming outdated.
aesthetics, religion, problematic-ness, probably-silly worries Afficher plus
I know the occult/'witchy' aesthetic can be bad for that too, though I feel like at least a lot of that is better-documented.
I feel a lot more off about liking that kind of stuff though, because I also really cannot get into any of the belief systems.
I take no issue with them, I just...can't really get into it. I've never really been able to get into religion though, so it's not weird or surprising.
aesthetics, problematic-ness, probably-silly worries Afficher plus
Feeling the need to interrogate my aesthetic preferences again. IDK why.
I mean, one issue is that the hippie aesthetic *is* problematic. There was a lot of cultural appropriation going on, and it continued through a lot of revivals. The general New Age movement was pretty bad for that stuff too.
So I feel unsure about appreciating the aesthetics or drawing on them for ideas.
Commentary: Kutulas, 2017; "After Aquarius Dawned" Afficher plus
The author lived during the 70s, and was at college so should have a good enough memory of it. And has personal connections to a major event - no spoilers!
She's using some of Daniel Yankelovich's work on the assimilation of ideas from the radical to the mainstream, which I hope she'll explain further. And, she's also going to look at countercurrents, which is good - a lot of writing on radical or progressive histories and ideas doesn't closely examine backlash, which is a mistake. It's valuable to know how an idea was objected to or fought against, and what was said about it. (And, if it's discernible, why.)
Interestingly, Kutulas cites Yankleovich's claim that the whole reasoning for the 60s counterculture was numeric - the baby boomers reached the most 'change-sensitive' period of their lives right as the civil rights movement and many others were going into high gear. In all the questioning that these radical movements created, baby boomers learned that their parents' cultures and values were not unassailable. Basically, it was an accident of a lot of radical change meeting a lot of young adults, during a time when those young people felt secure in exploring these radical ideas thanks to ongoing economic prosperity. I want to be skeptical, but it makes sense.
And then, apparently, everyone turned inwards in the 70s. It's interesting, I've never heard a lot about 70s cultures. 60s, yes - that was hippies, surfer bums, Nimbin and Byron Bay and driving around in Kombi vans. (It's surprising what my parents do share, even though Mum was effectively housebound with a chronically-ill toddler and herself chronically ill as well at the time. Dad...doesn't share much, but I gather he would have done his National Service in 1971-72, and he joined the military after a few years of unemployment but had to fight for it. I...suspect he did more than couch-surfing and shop jobs, but I doubt he'd ever tell.)
Kutulas points out though that this 'me-decade' stereotype ignores quite a bit. The most famous cause, the anti-war movement, petered out because it more or less achieved its goals - the draft ended in 1971, and the US withdew from Vietnam in 1973. But, Kutulas cites Michael Foley and points out that much of the progress achieved by the gay liberation movement and feminist movement was in the 70s.
Kutulas prefers to consider that the 70s were a transitional period, and that there were political and economic reasons that the 60s radicals lost ground. She points to inflation caused by the spending on the Vietnam War, the loss of political power in the Rust Belt as the (white) working class faced new competitors, and the rise of the Southern conservatives. She adds a really nice broad literature analysis here; I hope she'll get into more detail later.
But, above all, Kutulas disagrees vehemently that 'nothing happened' in the 70s, or that the American public was largely passive or apathetic. She finds those assessments incongruous with actual events and her own experiences.
And, an interesting quote: "We lost any consensus about how people ought to live their lives somewhere in the 1960s, and ever since, most of us do not seem to wat to get it back. In the 1990s, we fought 'culture wars' in the hope of recapturing a postwar 'normalcy' almost no one had actually lived."
(Pinging @jbond )
So, to summarize, Kutulas is going to draw on existing scholarship as well as primary sources to examine more subtle aspects, looking for themes of personal agency and change in value systems over the decade. But, Kutulas is also well aware that culture doesn't happen in a vaccuum, and that in a capitalist society it's manipulated to sell.
Here's another quote: "Sixties activisim made Americans more cognizant of the need to reconcile values and lifestyle. It did not make them narcissistic."
Kutulas is also pointing to the post-modern shift, and to the 'Establishment's' loss of legitimacy (partially driven by political scandal and the economic situation). Even conservatves used the term as a pejorative. And the attitudinal shifts involved in the rise of 'hip capitalism' are going to be brought up later.
So, the book is structured around specific areas of culture, and looking at the paths of mainstream assimilation they took (or didn't). It's not a full-on cultural history, more the use of these specific areas to illustrate the broader theme.
That's it for the introduction. I'll see what I can do about an open-access copy soon, I swear! But, it's nearly midnight and I need to sleep, so that will happen tomorrow.
Commentary: Mary Kutulas, 2017; "After Aquarius Dawned: How the Revolutions of the Sixties Became the Popular Culture of the Seventies" Afficher plus
Here's my first reading-with-commentary book for the holidays. If you have JSTOR access, you can get PDFs of each chapter from here: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5149/9781469632926_kutulas
I'll be posting each chapter's commentary unlisted so as not to clutter the TL, and hopefully tomorrow I'll have found an open-access copy for those with no JSTOR access.
announcement, (-) Afficher plus
I might not be around as much over the next few days. Bar the train trip...something has come up with my SO that I'm honestly not sure how to process or figure out.
It may be beneficial to be offline. I don't know. I don't think it's going to help me to be around, and I don't think I can pretend that everything is fine enough for any other sites.
I'd go and sort beads, but it's far too late at night, and my heart's not in much anymore.
RT @firstname.lastname@example.org: Does anyone in visual perception know why you can hear this gif?
Burn it all down. (cc @email@example.com @firstname.lastname@example.org )
WHAT IS THIS I DON’T EVEN
I once saw someone say that pixel art was the first truly masculine art form and to this day I carry my great grandmothers cross stitch sampler around with me so that in case I ever meet that person I can throw it at them
Also, I saw an article on SBS about freeganing, and I remembered this: the makeup bloggers finding thousands of dollars' worth of makeup in department store dumpsters.
(And then the whole thing was ruined by people posting about it and @ ing brands. Lesson learned: if you find some good stuff for free, don't @ the brand. Be happy in silence.)
JSTOR Daily linkdump (long) Afficher plus
(CW: body horror) The Atlantic - the way Cordyceps turns ants into zombies is even creepier than previously thought: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/11/how-the-zombie-fungus-takes-over-ants-bodies-to-control-their-minds/545864/
Science - the oldest image of a pet dog, from 8,000 years ago: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/11/these-may-be-world-s-first-images-dogs-and-they-re-wearing-leashes
(CW: sexual violence, misogyny) Washington Post on the 19th century women's campaign to create and enforce age-of-consent laws: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2017/11/19/roy-moore-and-the-revolution-to-come/?utm_term=.76ef8009128f
(NSFW: discussion of sex toys) The Cut - an interview with Hallie Liberman (PhD) on 30,000 years of sex toys: https://www.thecut.com/2017/11/the-30-000-year-history-of-the-sex-toy.html
Chicago Tribune - a new biography of anarcho-feminist Lucy Parsons, with some surprising twists: http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/books/ct-books-lucy-parsons-goddess-of-anarchy-jacqueline-jones-20171108-story.html
(CW: child death) Aeon - when infanticide became an unthinkable crime: https://aeon.co/essays/the-roots-of-infanticide-run-deep-and-begin-with-poverty
(CW: poop, gross) The Atlantic - the environmental impact and historic importance of dog poop: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/11/dog-poo-environmental-tragedy/546611/
The Conversation - Casablanca as WWII anti-isolationist propaganda: https://theconversation.com/you-must-remember-this-casablanca-at-75-still-a-classic-of-wwii-propaganda-87113
Atlas Obscura on Pakistan's inclusive Sikh festivals and what they reveal about pre-Partition Sikh society: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/sikh-guru-nanak-pakistan-festival
Phys.org - ultra-fast evolution in the Galapagos: https://phys.org/news/2017-11-galapagos-species.html
Public Domain Review on Francis van Helmont's forgotten attempt to derive a universal natural language: http://publicdomainreview.org/2016/06/01/francis-van-helmont-and-the-alphabet-of-nature/
JSTOR Daily linkdump (long) Afficher plus
Now looking at recommended readings:
Public Domain Review on the writing of the Dictionnaire Infernal: http://publicdomainreview.org/2017/10/25/defining-the-demonic/
PDR explores the earliest days of the Illuminati conspiracy theory as written by John Robison: http://publicdomainreview.org/2014/04/02/darkness-over-all-john-robison-and-the-birth-of-the-illuminati-conspiracy/
Atlas Obscura on the 1930s effort to make frog farming the next big thing: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/frog-farming-1930s-failure-ponds-canning-legs-conservation
Atlas Obscure on the oldest items in in collections of 12 prominent libraries: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/oldest-library-books-manuscripts-cuneiform-tablets
Narratively - how American folk rock helped end the Cold War: http://narrative.ly/how-folk-rock-helped-crack-the-iron-curtain/
The Atlantic - when did we start measuring wellbeing in economic terms? https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/10/money-measure-everything-pricing-progress/543345/
The Cut - the 'silent epidemic' of REM sleep deprivation and the loss of dreams: https://www.thecut.com/2017/10/were-in-a-dream-deprivation-epidemic.html
Quanta on the new version of AlphaGo that taught itself: https://www.quantamagazine.org/artificial-intelligence-learns-to-learn-entirely-on-its-own-20171018/
Public Books' The Big Picture series on American evangelical voting patterns, and Christian morality: http://www.publicbooks.org/big-picture-evangelical-voters/
The New York Times - why wolves are not good pets: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/13/science/wolves-dogs-genetics.html
Atlas Obscura on a re-examination of Viking clothing with embroidered Arabic script: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/viking-clothes-with-allahs-name-embroidered-in-silk
Washington Post on the Filial Correction statement directed at Pope Francis, and the long history behind it: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2017/10/16/a-group-of-catholics-has-charged-pope-francis-with-heresy-heres-why-that-matters/?utm_term=.952afabebf3f
Aeon - how the Stoics handled anger: https://aeon.co/ideas/anger-is-temporary-madness-heres-how-to-avoid-the-triggers
The Conversation - why we love horror media: https://theconversation.com/the-science-of-fright-why-we-love-to-be-scared-85885
PS Mag - an interview with Ann Burgess, the inspiration behind Wendy Carr in Netflix's 'Mindhunters': https://psmag.com/social-justice/the-female-forensic-researcher-behind-mindhunter
The Cut - is extended podcast listening bad for you? https://www.thecut.com/2017/10/what-is-listening-to-podcasts-all-day-doing-to-my-brain.html
Harvard Magazine on Brendan Meade's research into earthquake precursors: https://harvardmagazine.com/2017/11/earthquakes-around-the-world
The Atlantic - why the post-Reformation Christians still can't get along: https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/10/luther-reformation-500-ecumenical-dialogue/543876/
Massive - an evolutionary explanation for why humans love alcohol even though it's bad for us: https://massivesci.com/articles/genes-predisposed-alcohol-addiction-drunken-monkey/
Atlas Obscura on a little known part of trans history in pre-WWII Germany: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/trans-id-passes-weimar-germany-marcus-hirschfeld
The Conversation - a neuroscientist expresses frustration over being pushed to prove guilt or innocence instead of helping incarcerated people: https://theconversation.com/brain-science-should-be-making-prisons-better-not-trying-to-prove-innocence-83930
The Washington Post - an interview with John Bradshaw, who coined the term 'anthrozoology': https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2017/11/03/pets-arent-wonder-drugs-heres-why-we-love-them-anyway/
PS Mag on digital goods as the end of ownership: https://psmag.com/magazine/the-end-of-ownership
Wired - when Star Wars happened, as told by physics. https://www.wired.com/story/physics-of-star-wars-history-of-the-universe/
The Conversation - what the sale of 'turkey tails' and 'mutton flaps' in Samoa says about the global food system: https://theconversation.com/the-strange-story-of-turkey-tails-speaks-volumes-about-our-globalized-food-system-86035
(CW: sexual assault) Scientific American on the problems with sexual harassment prevention training and how to fix them: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/do-sexual-harassment-prevention-trainings-really-work/
Slate - why are so many more Muslim women going into STEM careers? http://www.slate.com/blogs/better_life_lab/2017/11/09/the_stem_paradox_why_are_muslim_majority_countries_producing_so_many_female.html
The Cut - how to stop worrying about whether other people like you: https://www.thecut.com/2017/11/how-to-get-over-the-need-to-be-liked-by-everyone-you-meet.html
I think the idea of unlimited wants, limited resources often spouted by economist doesn't actual exist as a law of human nature, I think unlimited want is a symptom of certain needs not being met, which is common within capitalism.
JSTOR Daily linkdump (long) Afficher plus
"Authenticity" and the fetishization of consumption: https://daily.jstor.org/dont-buy-authenticity-scam/
Managing the impact of stray dogs on Madagascar's wildlife: https://daily.jstor.org/lemurs-wild-dogs/
How Thanksgiving was invented as a patriotic holiday in the 1800s: https://daily.jstor.org/modern-invention-thanksgiving
And a companion to the above - an ethnography of Thanksgiving: https://daily.jstor.org/thanksgiving-is-a-feast-of-things-forgotten/
War, what is it good for? Rum & Coke, apparently: https://daily.jstor.org/what-rum-and-cokes-have-to-do-with-war/
The importance of librarians as digital mentors: https://daily.jstor.org/how-librarians-can-be-digital-mentors-for-teens/
How Lydia Pinkerton became a case study in brand loyalty and newspaper advertising: https://daily.jstor.org/was-lydia-e-pinkham-the-queen-of-quackery/
What's with America and turkey? https://daily.jstor.org/lets-talk-turkey/
Studying American's history through the Jim Rock Can Collection: https://daily.jstor.org/frontier-america-in-a-collection-of-tin-cans/
Why do you get sleepy after eating? Blame insulin: https://daily.jstor.org/eating-food-make-sleepy/
How the invention of the bed changed the way we sleep: https://daily.jstor.org/how-the-age-of-the-bed-changed-the-way-we-sleep/
How valid words for Scrabble are determined: https://daily.jstor.org/codifying-what-counts-as-a-word-in-scrabble/
What commune cookbooks can tell us about life among the hippies: https://daily.jstor.org/what-hippie-commune-cookbooks-reveal-about-communal-living/
Do we have moral obligations towards robots? And, can we have robot rights if human rights are still unclear?
(CW: racism, Nazis) The danger of romanticizing the Old South: https://daily.jstor.org/the-dangers-of-gone-with-the-winds-romantic-vision-of-the-old-south/
(CW: sexual assault) A proposed basic vocabulary for discussing sexual violence: https://daily.jstor.org/the-vocabulary-primer-you-need-for-talking-about-sexual-assault-and-harassment/
(CW: discussion of misogyny) Women's honorifics, power dynamics, and myths: https://daily.jstor.org/from-the-mixed-up-history-of-mrs-miss-and-ms/
(mild CW: discussion of sexual assault accusations) The impact of the Internet on public allegations of abuse: https://daily.jstor.org/metoo-and-the-new-era-of-internet-celebrity/
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