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Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll

The Evolution of an American Youth Culture

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Douglas Brode

Sex, Drugs, & Rock ‘n’ Roll analyzes the cultural, political, and social revolution that took place in the U.S. (and in time the world) after World War II, crystalizing between 1955 and 1970. During this era, the concept of the American teenager first came into being, significantly altering the relationship between young people and adults.
As the entertainment industries came to realize that a youth market existed, providers of music and movies began to create products specifically for them. While Big Beat music and exploitation films may have initially been targeted for a marginalized audience, during the following decade and a half, such offerings gradually become mainstream, even as the first generation of American teenagers came of age. As a result the so-called youth culture overtook and consumed the primary American culture, as records and films once considered revolutionary transformed into a nostalgia movement, and much of what had been thought of as radical came to be perceived as conservative in a drastically altered social context.
In this book Douglas Brode offers the first full analysis of how an American youth culture evolved.
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Chapter 12. Lonesome Highways: Of Car Culture and Motorcycle Mania

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← 210 | 211 → ·12·

LONESOME HIGHWAYS

Of Car Culture and Motorcycle Mania

“Well, I’m the type of guyWho’ll never settle down.I roam from town to town . . .They call me the wanderer,Yeah, the wanderer.I roam around, around, around.”

—Ernie Maresca, Dion di Mucci (1961)

As stated earlier, 1967 was the year in which everything changed, in American life and The Movies which, if in a romanticized way, reflect the world around us. The country had become more divided than at any time since the Civil War. Now, however, the rift had less to do with geography (though that did figure in with Blue State/Red State divisions ever more evident) than attitudinal. America entered into the Culture Wars.1 One sector of the audience, if it went to The Movies at all, lined up to see The Green Berets (John Wayne, 1968), a rare defense of our involvement in Southeast Asia. The other half skipped that in favor of I Love You, Alice B. Toklas. Gone, seemingly forever (though that was not the case), was any equivalent to the Andy Hardy family films of the pre-war years that once brought all sectors of the potential audience together.

← 211 | 212 → Two significant films released that year reveal the extremes of commercial moviemaking at this key juncture. The 35-year-old Production Code vanished, allowing for a virtual Anything Goes approach so long as moviemakers were willing to accept an R, or harsher X, demarcation....

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