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Our Generation's Woodstock This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


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The anniversary of the legendary music festival known as Woodstock seems to have passed without much more than a reminiscent remark or sigh by many in our parents' generation. But thanks to famed director Ang Lee's movie, “Taking Woodstock,” members of our generation are starting to take more interest. At least I am. As a music lover, the thought of Woodstock makes me salivate. Imagining a “free” music fest where all my favorite bands play makes me want to abandon my cozy lifestyle, strip down to my undies, and roll around in the mud for three days, which is essentially what happened. But I'm curious: could Woodstock ever happen again?

First, a little history. In 1969 a couple of dudes in New York got together and said, “Hey, let's throw a party. We'll invite Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, a bunch of other bands, and 50,000 of our closest friends and ­family.” Or something like that. In actuality, 500,000 people showed up. And it rained. But did that stop anything? No! In fact, it added to the magnificence and (to use a cliché) “grooviness” of the event. ­Attendees (who were not much older than we are) gathered to “turn on, tune in, and drop out.” They turned on their sensitivity to the world, tuned in to their environment and subconscious, and dropped out of conventional, mainstream society.

I know, I know. Just a bunch of hippie mumbo-jumbo laced with LSD, right? I think not. True, there were drugs at Woodstock, but illegal substances aside, the music festival provided an escape, an outlet for struggling young adults to cope with their wacky world. Woodstock was essentially a three-day adolescent convention that gave people a sense of belonging.

So what do we have? As a member of the generation born around the 1990s, I cannot think of one unifying experience. Yes, we're still young, therefore we still have time to “bond,” but I'll reiterate my question: could Woodstock ever happen again? In short, no, for ­several reasons.

Despite all our parents' complaining, they had something we don't seem to have anymore: time. It seems like most teens today are playing sports, studying for some standardized test, or doing homework nonstop. During summer, there are camps, internships, college visits, travel. Spare time is for sleeping and eating, not driving for hours and hours to some concert.

Next, funding. The expense of putting on a big show like that today would be substantial. Corporate sponsors would be an unfortunate necessity. But could you envision Jimi Hendrix playing his famous rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” on the AT&T VIP stage “co-sponsored by Starbucks and Nike”? I don't think that would be too consistent with the image of Woodstock or the philosophy of dropping out of mainstream society.

So say we had the money and the time. Who would play? Woodstock featured 32 awesome, well-known bands who had an intense impact on youth culture. Who've we got? The Jonas Brothers? Beyoncé? Miley Cyrus? Kanye West? I'm sorry, but if their music ­reflects the mythos of our generation, it's a pretty sad story.

Well, so that's that. We're a hopeless, dispassionate group doomed to forever seek a space that provides us with a sense of belonging more meaningful than Facebook or MySpace. Music festivals will be for hipsters, and by the time we're 20 the most culturally significant event we attended will have been a stop on the Jonas Brothers' world tour.

Or we can chose to break out of the mold that is slowly beginning to form us. We can exercise outdoors, read a book by somebody who died 200 years ago, or volunteer for an organization whose work is important to us. Maybe Woodstock is a silly example, but the point is, how are we going to figure out who we are? The world, according to scientific data, is three billion years old. That's a lot of zeros. The average human lifespan? About 80 or 90 years. That's not much time in comparison. Let's make it worthwhile and put our mark on this planet's history. And a blowout party certainly wouldn't hurt either.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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reginalove said...
Oct. 15, 2009 at 11:08 am:
I like this article and the thoght of another Woodstock. But why the diss on the Jonas Brothers? They're actually a great band and put on fun shows!
 
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