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Summer of Love - Film Paper

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“Summer of Love” Film Paper

The documentary film Summer of Love is about the year of 1967 when the children from the baby boom generation had grown up and were now in their college years, but instead of going to school chose instead to change the world. These young people had grown up experiencing the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, men constantly being drafted into the Vietnam War which was killing more than one hundred soldiers per week, and the civil rights struggles. There continued to be a deep anxiety about communism taking over the United States and the threat of atomic weapon. A part of that generation came to be known as “hippies,” who thought that they could bring change to the world by spreading peace and love. The Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco, California was a small and low-income area for modern families to live, until January 14, 1967 when there was a “coming together” and the Haight-Ashbury district became the home of modern jazz, hippies, communal living, and turning to drugs as a new way of living. Music began to change, LSD and acid became a way of life, food was served free, furniture and clothes were being distributed at no cost to people, and money became the root of all evil. They thought they could make the world into what they wanted by acting it out, but the hippies were extremely unwelcomed by the long-time residents. When spring break came around people, especially kids, from all over the country were visiting Haight-Ashbury because peace and love was starting to sound good. The war and the civil rights movements were beginning to take over people’s homes, and they needed a break. The hippies continued to encourage everyone to come to Haight-Ashbury, observe and join the way they live. But by the time summer came around, things started to take a turn for the worse.
Interviews with people who were actually living this type of lifestyle were used as primary sources during the film. But one interview stood out the most to me, a reporter that was going undercover and joining the life of the hippies in Haight-Ashbury. This reporter told his boss that he was not going undercover as a spy, if he was going to do this report he was going to live the way they were living and participate in everything they did. Considered “cool” because of the eye-patch he wore because of a car accident, he proceeded in the life of drugs, sex, rock and roll, peace and love. He later said he thought it was an “enjoyable alternative universe.” This primary source helps us to understand this point in history because this person was living the best of both worlds. He knew what the real world was like and he had a secure place in that world, but he got to take a break and live in the hippie world of peace and love and not just pretend, he made it his lifestyle for the time being. He made it feasible at the time for people to see why the baby boom generation was choosing to live the way they were, and what the purpose of their choices was. Even if many people did not agree with the hippie way of life they at least had the opportunity to understand, just like primary sources alike gave us the same opportunity today.
One piece of information that was interesting that I did not know about before was the end to my above summary, which was also the end of the Summer of Love. After spring break happened, the hippies were encouraging people from all over the nation to come and experience the change of living, except they did not anticipate what was about to happen. Newspaper headlines came out as “Hippies Warn San Francisco” of a summer invasion, and the mayor fired back resulting in headlines stating “Mayor Warns Hippies.” The mayor as well as the long-time residents were furious with the hippies, they were angry and determined to shut down this move. When summer came on June 21st, San Francisco was swarmed with tourists, vacationers, college students with no intentions of dropping out of college, and people who just wanted to see what it was like, but at the end go back to their regular lives. Children as young as thirteen and fourteen years old were running away from home getting caught up in very unfortunate circumstances. Drug dealers were taking advantage of the increasing drug use and offered highly addictive drugs such as cocaine and heroin, and instead of drugs being a solution, it became a very large problem for many. Many people simply came from just the drugs, people were “making love” in public and everywhere else, and the Summer of Love was known as the beginning of the end. It actually became a dangerous place to live, so much that a group called the “diggers” had to offer a survival school and hand out pamphlets giving advice how to avoid contracting sexually transmitted diseases or avoid getting raped. Police officers were grabbing young children all over and booking them until their parents came to get them. The utopia was gone, they ran out of free resources so people grew tired of it and left, and they took it upon themselves to perform a “Death of the Hippie” ceremony to send a message. The message was to the entire United States, telling youngsters that they could bring the revolution to their hometown, and that they should instead of traveling to San Francisco for a short time. The Summer of Love ended up being the end of the hippie revolution.
This information is important for our generation to understand because it shows us the stress that was put on a generation that was so immense that they were willing to try to make an enormous change. It proves that people were willing to take a stand against a country that they were always so patriotic towards, and make a change to live the way they thought would be more suitable. The Summer of Love also changed pop culture and music drastically. Musicians and bands such as Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead which embodied the feelings of outrage towards the Vietnam War and other feelings during that time. In relation to my life, my father grew up loving the types of music that evolved from this era, ultimately leaving me growing up listening to the same types of music and loving them also. The only concerts I’ve been to in my life have been because my parents, especially my father, have influenced me. With them growing up in the generation following the Summer of Love, I have found myself greatly influenced by the past.

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