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Woodstock 99: The Perfect Example of American Culture
With the draft for Viet Nam, political scandals, assassinations, and riots, the 1960 s brought forth large amounts of fear and apprehension around the country. In 1969, in the midst of all this chaos, on Max Yasgur s farm Woodstock took place. At the Woodstock 69 celebration, the people experienced the happiness of feeling safe and cared for. For three heavenly days, a hurt generation could return to a haven of love, peace, music, sharing, and sanctuary. At the end of the festival of peace, love and music, everyone returned home, forever touched by the promise of Woodstock, each in their own way, each with their own memories. Those memories, shared with friends, lovers, and children for over thirty years, have become the inspiration and motivation to try to recreate the promise of Woodstock thirty years later. Although the original Woodstock was a sanctuary for peace and the enjoyment of music, Woodstock 99 was a perversion of the original because it was a totally commercialized, media driven event complete with highly inflated prices and excessive violence; therefore, the event became a perfect example of American culture today.
Woodstock 1999 was an extremely commercialized event. The Ogden Corporation, a multi-billion dollar corporation that owns water parks, airports, power plants, and casinos, along with Metropolitan Entertainment, whose business it is to create hooks to manipulate consumers into parting with their cash, were the developer s of Woodstock 99. Not surprisingly, these companies were also in charge of the food and beverages, which sold for outrageous prices. They also recommended people not to bring their own food for fear of spoilage, and forced the surrender of all canned beverages at the concert gates. With all the hype over the major bands that would be attending, MTV advertised this event to death. They had an entire two-month time period dedicated to the countdown to Woodstock 99 where they played shows about the past festivals, as well as music videos of the bands from past and present Woodstocks. It is sad to see that the music industry, which is still a voice for young people, has become the voice Corporate America. Woodstock shouldn t be a corporate picnic; it s rock and roll.
The media was a great disturbance to Woodstock 99. They lugged their cameras around sticking their noses were they should not be. As concertgoers were enjoying the music displayed by the bands, reporters charged in and started recording mosh pits, or any crazy actions displayed by the fans as if they were committing a crime. Whenever something bad was displayed, the media was right on the scene and often exaggerated what was going on. For example, when The Offspring announced for the crowd to pick up the plastic bottles and throw them to the stage, the media proclaimed that there was a huge riot going on incited by The Offspring. The media disrupted the peace and music celebration causing disappointment among many of the fans.
Inflated prices were one of the biggest hassles at Woodstock. Ogden and Metropolitan Entertainment took total advantage of the concertgoers. Since food and beverages were not allowed in past the gate, people were forced to pay exorbitant prices: four dollars for a bottle of water, five dollars for a twenty ounce pop, five dollars for a slice of pizza, and ten dollars for a burrito. It s bad enough that a ticket cost two hundred dollars let alone the over-inflation of food and beverage prices. Of course paying four dollars for one bottle of water would not cause much turmoil. It was over the course of three to four days where three hundred thousand people were out in the intense heat, dripping sweat, no shade, and becoming dehydrated, four dollars a bottle caused many people to become angry. Even souvenirs were jacked up sky high to prices of thirty to forty dollars a t-shirt or hat, fifteen dollars for a collector s pin, ten dollars for a commemorative ticket holder, and five dollars for a pencil. There were over three hundred thousand in attendance, with the average person spending close to five hundred dollars for this mega event; the Ogden Corporation and Metropolitan Entertainment grossed over two hundred million dollars from the pockets of concertgoers. This just shows the producers had no feeling of peace or sanctuary but just had a vision of greed overflowing in their bank accounts.
Just like our culture today, people can t go anywhere without seeing violence. Instead of a peace and love atmosphere, Woodstock was a violence filled environment. Everywhere one looked there was some sort of violence being displayed. There were the Beer people verses the Mud people , each screaming and throwing things at one another over the fence. Up close to the stage of a concert, women were being groped and assaulted against their will with cheering, and supportive onlookers. Every band participated in displaying violence in one way or another. The Offspring s singer took a baseball bat and smashed the heads of the Backstreet Boys life size cardboard displays. Kid Rock with his little sidekick got the crowd to throw things onto the stage. Limp Bizkit threw bottles at the crowd, and crowd-surfed on an eight-foot bed of plywood during his song Break Stuff , which encouraged fans to go tear down the one-hundred foot radio tower. The most traumatizing event that took place were the riots at the end of Woodstock. People sick of the heat, high prices, hunger, the stench, and garbage, started to tear up the place, ironically starting with the peace wall. Later, during the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert, the Chili Peppers sang the song Fire , by Jimi Hendrix and many fires were set. The trailers which vendors used, each with a propane tank were ignited causing huge explosions and fires. The vendors, pay phones, and ATM machines were looted, cars were flipped over and ignited, and garbage was used as fuel for the bonfires. Angry, and self-destructive images from Woodstock 99 portrayed violent reenactments of what we see in today s every day life.
What do we consider to be our culture today? Today s culture is a culture, which the media has taken over our lives. Turn on the television, read the newspaper, or listen to the radio, the media is there telling us what to do and what not to. Also, we have become a commercialization driven country. Commercialization has overtaken the way we look, what we eat, and what we do with our time. Violence, which is let alone a huge problem in our society, is our prime entertainment source. It is sick enough to see what has become of our culture today. One only knows what it will be like in the future.
Today s culture is nothing more than a violent, media driven, over commercialized circus. A picture perfect example of this is Woodstock 99. Instead of being a place for sanctuary and peace, it became a festival celebrating American Culture. The media stuck their face in on concertgoers entertainment, most of the time over exaggerating what was going on. Over inflation took over this highly commercialized event, from the greedy hands of the corporations who were putting on the festival. As a result, angry concertgoers displayed many acts of violence, which ignited like wildfire throughout the festival. Therefore, Woodstock is a perfect example of American culture today.
Producers Flyer. Ogden Corporation and Metropolitan Entertainment. Woodstock 1999.
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