Free «Was the "Sex, Drugs, and Rock'n'roll" Era Significant, or not» Essay

Was the

Rock and roll era played a significant role in formation of new social relations and cultural change in American society. This era was a result of great political changes in society and liberation movement of 1940s-1950s. At the heart of the issue is the mainstreaming of attitudes and practices, musical and otherwise that represent fundamental departures from those institutionalized by the power culture since the political change of the 1950s. This change in taste was even more dramatic because it symbolized broad acceptance of the musical customs of black America and rural white America, sectors of society with little prestige and long dismissed as irrelevant to national standards and priorities. Thesis statement “Sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll” era was significant as it changed cultural and personal values of people but was a reflection of deep political changes in society. 

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Argument I  The rock and roll era was significant because it continued political changes in equal rights and liberation movement.

Reason A The actual musical language of rock and roll had long flourished, primarily in the South, without the sanction of upper- and middle-class white Americans who acknowledged the music of these outsiders begrudgingly as "race music" and "hillbilly music," respectively. What was new in the 1950s was an enthusiastic audience of middle-class teenagers from white America and a new designation "rock 'n' roll," which ironically is derived from blues imagery for sexual intercourse. These young people with their new fascination for minority music -- with no malice aforethought, initially at least -- proved to be an irrepressible force in reshaping many social patterns in American society during the second half of the twentieth century (Barker and Beezer, 1992).

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Reason B What made this transformation of American popular music the source of such violent debate is the very fact that it was generated and sustained by the youth of the power culture without the blessing of their parents. Few other musical movements have been defined so emphatically in terms of age. A house divided by rejection of parental preferences and the attending perception of betrayal and even subversion set the stage for a power struggle that marked the early years of rock and roll. Once the music established itself as more than an irritating fad and then quickly achieved status as the social emblem of rebellious youth, initial skirmishes faded as opponents regrouped to wage what has proved to be an ongoing war, one in which calls for censorship were raised as periodic battle cries and attempts at control took various forms (Patterson, 2004).

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Argument II In fact, rock 'n' roll music has become the blame for what was wrong with the country's emerging adults. Popular music that not only sounds different but has suggestive lyrics aimed at children frightens many parents.

Reason A The response has been a series of attempted controls that have encompassed government as well as economic and commercial forms of censorship. With prevailing social racism, rock songs by African Americans, no matter how creative, were suspect and an affront to the openly segregationist views of the 1950s and 1960s. To be financially successful, black music became marginalized in the popular culture with white "covers." Many black musicians received little or no compensation when their songs were recorded by whites. When rock 'n' roll music began appearing in the public consciousness, it represented a joining, gang-type of expression. Despite the fact that there were some white rappers, black artists dominated rock 'n' roll with black codes and street lingo explicit enough to be understood. Even though almost three-quarters of all rap albums were bought by white youth, rap music remained a black phenomenon. The lyrics confronted audiences with issues of racism, sexism, and black feelings toward white authority. Unlike adult concerns about heavy metal music's effects upon the fragile minds of a few troubled individuals, rap music was thought to cause a volatile reaction from entire audiences (Barker and Beezer, 1992). The suspicion was that black youth were unthinking, animal-like, and ready to erupt into a frenzy of "wilding" and rioting. Adults, primarily white adults, had an overriding fear that black youth were dry kindling, ready to burst into flame with any stray spark. Inflammatory songs could incite an entire race to murder the nation's police. Unlike previous reactions to musical changes, such anxieties were aimed not at particular artists as individuals, but at an entire racial group (Patterson, 2004).

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Reason B Rock 'n' roll era can be seen as a response to political changes but also it was just a result of new social relations.  But for cultural critics of the past decade working the trend of linking art, social agenda, and politics, it has pretty much become standard critical vocabulary. Although the stance taken and the message given by artists rivals that of another notorious musical release, some critics suppose that rock and roll musicians not so much as a response to the shock of an attack on an authority figure as a directed effort to make good use of an opportunity to push an agenda. Rap as a musical form resists the usual effects of crossover. Its foregrounding of the rhythm, the lack of melody, the aggressive politics of the lyrics all defy attempts at covers. the contemporary left evinces the humanist desire to see to the liberation of all people by removing all forms of stigmatization and embracing each diverse element of society on its own terms. On the other hand is the inchoate dream of some essential humanity that will lead to peaceful coexistence and a mutual regard for the economic security of all members of the community. The latter remains a dream as long as the left has no way of working out the connections between identity and community (Barker and Beezer, 1992).

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Argument III Rock and roll culture promulgated sexual relations and drug usage as a part of new personal liberation and self-identity.

Reason A For some of these people, the sex act is not really much different from masturbating. There is, of course, sexual arousal followed by gratification, and that can be fun. But when it's over there is often an emptiness, a lack of any feeling for the partner. It is as though the partners were merely erotic pictures, capable of arousing fantasies but with no substance, certainly not enough to make them remember one another in a few weeks. Complete giving, which is what the sexual act is really all about, means complete in a broader sense, that is, fully carried out, thorough, and that entails something more than a one-night stand. These are most difficult to resolve, and there are many opinions. They are difficult because one's personal ideas about sex and morality must be tied to them, and not everyone thinks the same way in such matters (Patterson, 2004).

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Reason B Rock 'n' roll fans were beset by divisions. The right is distinguished by a curious approach to community; the underlying assumption of conservatism is that distinctions and gradations among people are the key to the well-ordered polity. The other relies on the market to serve as a vehicle of individual liberation and distinction and carries with it the identity myths of individual self-sufficiency. The individualist image avoids the problems of race, gender, and class by resolving all issues into a matter of individual striving. Taken by itself, neither deals with the world as we know it: a global community in which race, gender, religion, nationality, class, and culture are very real indeed, and in which the moral superiority of one over another cannot be easily demonstrated.

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Closing statement

If this view of “sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll” era formed as new identity as the cornerstone of a new conception of multiculturalism taken as significant, then what is needed is a method for implementing this vision. Given the protections for individual rights of dissent, “sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll” era was the presumption that in decisions affecting the whole community, what the larger portion of the community has agreed to should hold for all rather than the views of a lesser portion of the community. By this, private centers of power would be required to give way to public forms of decision making in community decisions.

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