cultural iconography

rachel barrett martin (mart0167@GOLD.TC.UMN.EDU)
Thu, 23 Jan 1997 18:19:39

>But try to remember that what is being HAWKED is not a memorial to the
actual history, but the Cultural Iconography.
>Hippie Chics were SUPPOSE to be lilly pure, never had pimples, never had a
hair out of place, never get pregnant, never get social diseases,
>never get strung out..... And of course they >NEVER drove the Big Bus.

Right... that's my whole point. And for those of you who don't know the
analogy about driving the big bus, see Lisa Law's "Flashing on the
Sixties." But then where does the cultural iconography come from? Joan
Didion certainly didn't see hippie femmes as pure in her Saturday Evening
Post piece, "Slouching Towards Bethlehem."

>In many respects this is no worse than having
>Olivia Newton John cast as the Iconic Cherub
>of Grease for the 50's Iconography.

Well at least her character goes through a change, and there's Rizzo's
pregnancy, and she has some moral deliberation. Harmony seems so fixed..

But speaking of the 50s, though, I just encountered a photograph in
Nabokov's _Native American Testimony_ of a Hidasta (I think) leader signing
away his people's traditional lands on the bluffs of the Missouri so the
ACE could build a dam. He burst into tears at the signing, 1950. And I'll
confess bursting into tears at the starkness of my sudden recognition of
exactly what Joanne Meyorwitz points out in her editorial intro. to _Not
June Cleaver_ (collection of essays on complicating gender in the 50s
beyond consensus and constraints model): it was never like that. My
students seem to think that alienation of indigenous-owned lands is
something that happened in the 1700s, not something that happened (and
happens) in the immediately recent past.

>You should feel grateful that at least the sixties
>does have certain elements that stand out and make
>one say,

Well, see, those of us BORN in the sixties have all that jazz mapped out in
our stars. Grateful's got nothing to do with it (except vis a vis
Jerry-Bobby-Phil-Mickey-Billy-Pigpen-et alia.) Bernice King, MLK and
Coretta's youngest daughter, was on Oprah on Monday. And it was heartening
to hear her define herself in relationship to the movement in ways even the
most "possessive memories" couldn't dislodge. Seems Dr. King wouldn't be
going off to sit in the Birmingham County Jail until the baby came, and so
CSK heard castor oil would bring on labor.... Saturn IS in Aries again!

Rachel B Martin