I am listening to the music of Little Eva, an early ’60’s Pop Music star in the U.S. Her songs include “Breaking Up is Hard to Do”, “Some Kinda Wonderful”, “Locomotion” et al. If I were a young person , I would be asking, “My how American Pop Culture has changed! What happened?”
The short answer is: America lost Her Virginity.
Let me explain, as one who was around during the transition (cf., “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel). I refer to two epochs of American Culture in the second half of the 20th Century. The first one I call “Before the Beatles”, and the second one is “After the Beatles”—which is when our culture lost its virginity.
Why the Beatles reference? Let’s take a look at the preponderance of music and film comprising these two epochs. Before the Beatles, you have have subject matter and lyrics which are “innocent”. The above-mentioned artist plus many, many others reflects this with titles like “Earth Angel”, “Be My Baby”, etc. Reference to actual sex is covered, inferred (in much the same way as in Frank Capra’s films It’s a Wonderful Life and It Happened One Night), or otherwise honored by holding it in a reserved fashion. There seemed to be some sort of tradition or governor (internal, possibly) at work. I hasten to admit here that some of my contemporaries will argue that the age of rebellion started with the advent of Rock and Roll music in the white community at large in the mid-Fifties, and of course this is true. But my observation was that the vast majority of Americans were aware of the moral implications and “knew better”.
Then you have The Beatles crashing the party early in ’64. With them came basically two major shifts in culture:
- First, there was a new, existential way of thinking, embracing “situational ethics” and shaking off what remained of any traditions that governed the mores. Examples include lyrics in songs like “She’s Leaving Home”, “Fool on the Hill”, “All Together Now”, and others.
- Secondly, The Beatles were embraced as “acceptably good kids” in spite of their illicit behaviors, especially where drug use was concerned. Yes, there was the brief “album-burning” phase after John’s comment about the Beatles being more popular than Jesus Christ, but on the whole, their experimenting with drugs gave rise to a huge wave of music and film legitimizing LSD and other drugs as reflected in the lyrics of too many songs to mention here.
Beatle-knock-off groups sprouted like wheat in the Ukraine, and sex and drug use became open and oft-discussed topics in the media.
The mixture of these ingredients with an American climate of a) “Freedom is Supreme” and b) the Protestant-inspired ideology of “Tradition is basically bad” resulted in, to put it succinctly, the loss of innocence in our culture. The effort to appear “honest and frank” wound up vilifying traditional values, and alas, America lost her Virginity.
So what do we do? It’s really simple: Repent and become innocent again, as children. Listen to Holy Scripture:
But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these”. (Lk 18:16)
Children. In what way should we be children?
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. (Rom. 12:9)
… in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature. (I Cor. 14:20)
There is hope for America, and it’s up to us.
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