Late james dean who depicted the alienated adolescent

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late James Dean who depicted the alienated adolescent in the movie Rebel Without a Cause or Elvis Presley who initially fixed the image of the guitar-twanging rock-'n'-roller. Later came the Beatles with their (at that time) outrageous hair and exotic costumes. "One of the prime functions of popular favorites," says Klapp, "is to make types visible, which in turn make new life styles and new tastes visible." Yet the style-setter need not be a mass media idol. He may be almost unknown outside a particular subcult. Thus for years Lionel Trilling, an English professor at Columbia, was the father figure for the West Side Intellectuals, a New York subcult well known in literary and academic circles in the United States. The mother figure was Mary McCarthy, long before she achieved popular fame. An acute article by John Speicher in a youth magazine called Cheetah listed some of the better-known life style models to which young people were responding in the late sixties. They ranged from Ché Guevara to William Buckley, from Bob Dylan and Joan Baez to Robert Kennedy. "The American youth bag," wrote Speicher, lapsing into hippie jargon, "is overcrowded with heroes." And, he adds, "where heroes are, there are followers, cultists."
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To the subcult member, its heroes provide what Speicher calls the "crucial existential necessity of psychological identity." This is, of course, hardly new. Earlier generations identified with Charles Lindbergh or Theda Bara. What is new and highly significant, however, is the fabulous proliferation of such heroes and mini-heroes. As subcults multiply and values diversify, we find, in Speicher's words, "a national sense of identity hopelessly fragmented." For the individual, he says, this means greater choice: "There is a wide range of cults available, a wide range of heroes. You can do comparison shopping." LIFE STYLE FACTORIES While charismatic figures may become style-setters, styles are fleshed out and marketed to the public by the sub-societies or tribe-lets we have termed subcults. Taking in raw symbolic matter from the mass media, they somehow piece together odd bits of dress, opinion, and expression and form them into a coherent package: a life style model. Once they have assembled a particular model, they proceed, like any good corporation, to merchandise it. They find customers for it. Anyone doubting this is advised to read the letters of Allen Ginsberg to Timothy Leary, the two men most responsible for creating the hippie life style, with its heavy accent on drug use. Says poet Ginsberg: "Yesterday got on TV with N. Mailer and Ashley Montagu and gave big speech ... recommending everybody get high ... Got in touch with all the liberal pro- dope people I know to have [a certain pro-drug report] publicized and circulated ... I wrote a five-page summary of the situation to this friend Kenny Love on The New York Times and he said he'd perhaps do a story (newswise) ... which could then be picked up by U.P. friend on national wire. Also gave copy to Al Aronowitz on New York Post and Rosalind Constable at Time and Bob Silvers on Harper's..."
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  • Winter '16
  • Sociology, Alvin Toffler, future shock

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