Generations, Rebellion and Self-Expression
Having had many interactions with young people who are into either the hippie idea or the "urban decay" type styles, I've come to the conclusion that most of them are not doing it as rebellion but rather as self-expression. I have known many of the type who are not angry; who are quite warm and friendly, even happy, individuals. What for some had once been a way of fighting what was around them has for others become a way of self-expression. And this creates a positive legacy for the people who had initiated and been a part of these trends.
One example that I have observed was a young man named Kevin in San Francisco Bay Area. He was into Jim Morrison, had long hair and walked around shirtless, and took me on an excursion to the ocean coast where he and his friend played a digiridoo all night. His mother kept calling him a poser; but what she did not understand is that, when someone does something that's not a trend and that's not a cool, then it must be something that means a lot to him. So that, while many of the original hippies were doing it because it was a trend, someone who does it when it is not a trend and remains persistent in doing it is the real McCoy.
Same is the case with the urban decay styles. While people who did it when it was a trend included both people who were intensely into it and people who were just following fashion trends, we will not see trendoids doing it when it is not the popular thing to do. And if someone does it when it is not a trend, then that means that it means a lot to that person.
With the hippie idea, there were some who thought it to be a result of a "bad crop" having been raised; and there were others who thought that it spoke universally to youth, and that other generations would unquestionably embrace it. Both were wrong. There has been some interest in the hippie idea in my generation; there have also been many powerful forces in society to counteract it. The latter include the people who had been hippies originally who then turned away from it and, like Kevin's mother, saw younger people doing it as being posers when they were doing it, in spite of much social resistance, at the time that it was not a trend.
More on the generational issue bears elaboration. While the first children of hippies (those born in 1960s) were typically hateful to their parents and everything that they had attempted to do, in my generation there is a more moderate attitude as well as a greater mix. We have been exposed to different cultural influences, and we do different things with them, typically combining them in a variety of ways. Thus in 1990s we saw "perkygoths" (gothic in style, chipper in attitude); and at a more adult age we see banker philanthropists, Republican rock-and-rollers, bellydancing social workers, programmer poets, people who are into both techno and drive-in theaters, and any variety of cross-cultural and cross-racial relationships. It appears that our generation, given the recent history, is rightfully suited to create a cultural richness that looks at all the different influences that are out there and puts them together in any variety of original and valuable ways.
One of the interesting ways to deal with these influences, as I've seen, is using what had been once a tool of rebellion as a tool of self-expression. This should make proud both the people who had initiated the hippie movement and the people who had initiated the urban decay trend. What they had done survived them and has become something that younger people are using to grow. And this is a legacy worthy of having had.