When Bob Dylan warned parents and authority figures in 1964 that times were a-changing and we’d all better ‘learn how to swim or you’ll sink like a stone’, or if they couldn’t lend a hand to get out of the way, there were a lot of things that shocked people, or were strongly frowned upon.
I wonder if Dylan ever imagined that those filled with youthful pride singing triumphantly along, would one day have to heed his words about standing in the way of change?
Teenagers of the 60s and 70s probably sang the words, “And don’t criticise, what you can’t understand” far too loud and often to totally get away with criticising changes brought about by people questioning or rejecting out-dated cultural norms.
Some of the changes in the last few decades are definitely positives, many of them stemming from those generations’ struggles and rejections of earlier times.
It’s now not a problem for people to live together, or raise children before marriage or even never getting married. Men can just as capably be the one to stay at home, and women can just as capably be the breadwinner, or not, however the family chooses.
Those darn free love hippies actually had a lasting impact!
Changing fashions or the ways people are using their clothing or bodies to express themselves are also no longer shocking. The shocks caused by bright green-haired punks with piercings, bands like KISS with long haired guys in stretch lycra or sparkly satin and full face makeup took the edge off society’s uptightness.
Other changes, well there might be some things that we’d have to hold a little at arm’s distance, rather than outrightly criticising if we don’t understand them.
Deliberate showing of parts of underwear with normal street clothes is something that may still get a raised eyebrow or two.
The proliferation of swearing, particularly in mixed company and in music and movies might feel a little like a rising tide for those who were raised that it was at best, an exception not a commonality. Billy Connolly fans who had bought and listened to his records without realising how much they were censored, were truly shocked when he was unleashed live onstage in Brisbane in the early 1970s. He was booed offstage, and highly criticised for his ‘disgusting language. Nowadays censorship seems to be the exception, not the norm.
Youth culture between the mid to late sixties and now has been fairly harmoniously accepted by those of older generations, once older people started to get used to hearing, as well as seeing, young people. When Eminem rose to popularity, apart from the proliferation of swearing, parents may have been reminded of other angry young men or agitators who brought up the uncomfortable issues that people didn’t really want to be reminded about.
Bob Dylan’s ballads and rocker Alice Cooper singing Dead Babies and Only Women Bleed, come to mind.
Another change has been the increase of tattoos in visible places, they either used to be somewhat hidden or mostly only on show on the arms of sailors or older men. Now age, gender and even body placement doesn’t matter.
The acceptance of credit and debt has been a huge change affecting consumer behaviour, marketing and society. If you didn’t have the money for something you either saved for it or put it on Lay-by, to hear that someone was in debt created shaking heads and fears for their family’s future.
Now people expect instant gratification of their wants and needs, and marketers well know it. Many who refused to accept Bankcards with the 666 conspiracy theories are now happily waving the plastic and mortgaging their own future.
Violence, crime, cruelty to animals and wars are things that shock us, but then they always did.
So, what else is left that shocks you?