Life was complicated in simple ways in the 60s. (photo: Joseph Szabo)
Life was complicated in simple ways in the 60s. (photo: Joseph Szabo)

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – Martha Stuart: Are You Listening? – Boys With Long Hair – July 1970

Anyone reading this who was born after 1970 will have no idea what the deal was. It was all about hair in the 1960s and early 70s. They dedicated a Musical to it. It was a social statement, it was a fashion statement, it was a blow against conformity and you could grow it yourself and it was perfectly legal.

But there was a time the length of your hair could get you in trouble – cause you ridicule – kicked out of places – be the target of name-calling and gestures – get you into fights.

Yes, the length of your hair.

It was all symbolic. For a guy, growing your hair long was a sign of non-conformity, a sign of coolness, a sign of trust among your peers, a certain social/political mindset, a sex object.

It started with The Beatles and the whole British Invasion of the early 60s. Long hair was fashionable and trendy and gave you an aura of hipness. As time went on it came to symbolize many things and came to epitomize the fabled Generation Gap and the need to break free from the social pressures of a decade before.

And it was the source of many discussions – it was the source of Student sit-downs in High schools – it was the source of many confrontations between school officials and parents and it became one of the most important rites of passage for youth in the 1960s, next to getting your drivers license.

As evidence of that, here is a discussion featuring a group of high school boys, moderated by the documentarian and sociologist Martha Stuart (not to be confused with that other Marth Stewart – note the different spelling) for a series of programs called “Are You Listening?” which dealt primarily with issues of society and those marginalized parts of it.

This program was aired in January of 1971, but the discussion was recorded in July of 1970. The subject was Long Hair On Boys.

Just remember – the kids in this discussion are your parents, or in some cases, grandparents. It was done 45 years ago when issues and people and technology and fashion and music were different. The similarities are they didn’t want to blend in, didn’t want to conform to something they didn’t believe in – and did something that pissed their parents and authority figures off.

Issues and perceptions change – the core of the person is the same. And the desire not to fit in is the same as it ever was.

And it was no different in 1970.

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