About Advertise

Commercial Hippies

by Natasha Nel, images Deborah Rossouw / 23.03.2011

So I’m walking around a trance party minding my own business when some emaciated poster child for wasted youth yells “Commercial Hippie!” at me with all the blind hatred his abused body could muster.

It was Day 2 of and we’d all enjoyed our fair share of over-indulgence. It was packed, they’d gotten the social network pseudo-marketing right on this one, if there’d been any sense of unity or purpose among us we could’ve shown Egypt a thing or two about throwing a people’s revolution.

I thought I was both practically and presentably dressed for the occasion. I had on a pair of denim shorts, tied a scarf around my top half, and pink calf-high gumboots doubling as storage space for cash, cigarettes and other essentials. Apparently, I was wrong.

Apparently, my look was less “let’s dance our faces off” and more “I buy t-shirts with Che Guevara’s face on them.” I wondered what Mr. Non-Conformist would say about the peace sign I had inked on my pelvis when I turned 18? (About six months before they started printing them on anything that moved, okay.)


My immediate instinct (I kid you not) was to be all like: “Hey I’m only here to have a good time and dance, like you are, why can’t we all just get along?” But I realised how “commercially hippie” that would sound and I chickened out and walked away thinking, what a meanie! Hypocritical superiority complex aside though, he does raise an interesting point. Like how commercialism has become the ultimate insult – and how, at the same time, it’s really ultimately unavoidable at some point in your life. We all consume. Besides “going green” is a multi-milllion dollar industry for the love of Mother Earth! They’re even trying to sell us reusable menstrual devices called “Mooncups”. See that in your mind’s eye for a moment, Gentlemen.

Every influential subculture has inevitably been absorbed back into the mainstream and torn asunder or diluted by profit-driven iniatives. This is a basic cultural principle by now. Even Fokofpolisiekar won’t play for less than R50 000 nowadays, if you believe a recent Media 24 report. Should we feel guilty about it? There are no body parts left to pierce, no tattoos left to ink, no hairstyles worth going through semi-torture to attain. The irony here – because it wouldn’t be a truly post-modern revelation without a healthy dose of irony – is that letting go of the need to identify ourselves with a certain subculture would lead to the kind of authentic individualism no subculture has managed to sustain. As many definitions of the avant-garde have suggested, to detach yourself from the prevailing ideology is to allow yourself the freedom to find an entirely unexpected stance.


The trouble is that we’ve been consuming avant-gardes and passively buying branded individuality (Kerouac was the face of Gap for a while) for over a century by now. Trapped in the media flow, it feels like there are no more unexpected “stances”. The final refuge of personal originality and cultural innovation has to be a complete detachment from the need to take any stance whatsoever. An updated kind of Seventies “opting out” of the hype-machine to re-determine the rules of authenticity and expression.

Nietzsche maligned our “inclination to laziness” as a species, blaming it on our need to “think and act in herd fashion”. As for my angry friend from the trance party, I’ve got some motivational Nietzsche for him too: “For one thing is needful: that a human being attain his satisfaction with himself – only then is a human being at all tolerable to behold. Whoever is dissatisfied with himself is always ready to revenge himself; we will be his victims by always having to stand his ugly sight!”


*All images © Deborah Rossouw / One Small Change.

24   2
  1. Lizzy says:

    mooncups rock. dont diss them. i’m not a hippie/commercial hippie at all, I eat meat, have a nihilistic attitude to environmentalism, i’m a breeder etc. but i’ve been using one ( a different brand, but same thing) for over 2 years and will NEVER go back to a tampon. its better for your body and your pocket, forget the planet…

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  2. King Mob says:

    I Fuckin Love the Planet, i’d bleed with her if i thought it would make any practical difference,
    but dreadlocks and organic smoothies and “alternative” music aren’t gonna bring you any closer to a functional relationship with your homeworld when you’re not actively and practically (and collectively), producing solutions/alternatives to the state of the world that you lament. to the emaciated fool:” It’s cool to be a hippie/punk/pantsula/whatever and play/express yourself through subculture and aesthetic/recreational trends, but don’t fr one second buy the delusion that doing so give syou a one-up on people who chose to behave differently, we’re all in the same spaceship now, nuff sed’

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  3. YsterHart says:

    @King Mob: Grant Morrison fan?

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  4. ling-ling says:

    sticks and stones man just frikken sticks and stones.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  5. Previous Ex Girlfriend! says:

    “They’re even trying to sell us reusable menstrual devices called “Mooncups”. See that in your mind’s eye for a moment, Gentlemen.”

    Haha… we need Mooncups and more recycled stuff more than ever, the world’s population is at it’s highest in the history of the world, if we don’t recycle shit like Mooncups and Shopping bags otherwise we’re gonna run out of stuff to use. I’m not a hippy either, I dislike hippies – they fart too much for my liking and they have bad taste in fasion. Ideally “going green” shouldn’t be linked to a sub culture. Going Green should be seen as a way to preserve our natural resources.

    Nothing is authentic in 2011, extending the 70s (herd fashion) won’t breed authenticity. The search for authentiicity in South Africa hasn’t begun as yet.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  6. nissim says:

    The only thing worse than the music at trance parties are the self-righteous “hippies” they attract.

    Back in the 60s and early 70s when I was growing up a “hippy” was a risk-taken, an independent-thinker, a doer, an outcast, and an adventurer. They faced up to cops, the National Guard, and stood the chance of losing their jobs if they didn’t shave or cut their hair, and the chance of going to prison for objecting to fight in Vietnam. It wasn’t a fashion, or a trend, or a party theme, or a shelf of new age books.

    These days a “hippy” just means someone who’s too lazy to think for themself, too self-conscious to bath, too cynical to engage with reality, and too stuck on some (false) past idyll of the 60’s to come out of their anachronistic shell and be authentic.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  7. www.askjuju.co.za says:

    If you are looking for a good example of many useless people with white tendencies, then you can go to one of these parties.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  8. BummedImissedthe60's says:

    Its sad that the trance people stole the hippy moniker from the original free thinkers because they’re amongst the most close-minded exclusive social cliques you’ll find this side of Caprice. I used to go to trance jols for a few years around the turn of the century but I stopped years ago. There’s no love there and these foolish dirty children who think they’re being anti-establishment and oh-so-out-there by directing their bile toward anyone they feel isn’t wearing the same clothing/hairstyle/crap jewelry that they are are just a little bit sad. There’s nothing worse than people straining to be original by fitting in. The original hippies accepted everyone no matter what their social leanings. These trance cats nowadays are no better than your average Camps Bay trawling sneering snob, they just wear their own version of Ed Hardy.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  9. Anreal says:

    Er, god there is lot of tripe being spewed here.

    The CONCEPT that there even is such a thing as THEY is the very paragon of ignorance … just because there are 3000 people are any party, at any point in time, doesn’t make then at all, in any way, necessarily the same.

    As far as I’m concerned most people are fairly useless … especially the idiots who still need to define themselves and their little realities as one thing or another, rather than an immense, multi-dimensional adventure, that shifts at any point in time >>>

    If your experience of reality seems unoriginal, you only have yourself to blame.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  10. Anreal says:

    And in the words of Chopper “ha ha ha harden the fuck up” … grow a pair, relax, enjoy, and who cares about some guy that was prob momentarily cooking out from a cocktail of stimulants cos he’s too young to know how his limits yet ….. next time give him a kick in the gonads.

    Live on!


    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  11. Who drank all the lemonade says:

    One Day (I hope) I’m pretty sure we’re all going to find out is that this idea of being an individual – separate from the whole is absolute crap.

    Grant Morrison puts this concept forward in a pretty Interesting way, give it a watch.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  12. frikkie says:

    scene but not herd

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  13. Chinless Fake Titted Ho says:

    fuck hippies!

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  14. dwight says:

    I like to consider myself as a previously model c school advantaged, white, evangelical atheist, neo-liberal, commercial hippie/hippie/hipster/jock/hippie jock/hipster jock/commercial hipster/hippie hipster. And a bit of cunt.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  15. die tye die says:

    dont mistake trance for a music scene fueled by drugs. its a drug scene fueled my music.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  16. Brian Green says:


    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  17. will says:

    or a drug scene fueled by drugs?

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  18. Rogerness says:

    tons of these in Greenside, Melville… 70 Juta… yummmm

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  19. bob says:

    As per usual, the comment section misses the point. I now feel the urge to hack up a Dolphin after what was actually a enjoyable article.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  20. creepy steve says:

    we can’t all move to the mountains and barter dreamcatchers fabricated from our own pubes

    p.s. never trust a man with a ponytail

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  21. Island life says:

    I was once stuck with your tippo crusty fuckhead of a trance head on a flight back from London,when this idiot in his haze of speed combined with whatever his mommy ever warned him not to take being most probably herself a washed valium junkie from the true sixties era.
    Had a smoke in the toilets and then proceeded to try and open the door to the outside world,if i didn’t know it would have killed all of us i would have demanded that they let him out for one final walk on the clouds.
    But alas they subdued the idiot and allowed me to simmer in a cloud of red anger for the rest of the flight.
    So to all you peace loving crusties block book a transatlantic flight and please go for a walk 9000 feet up in the sky.
    NB take your singular philosophy with you…….

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  22. Chinless fake titted ho says:

    Fuck bob.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  23. Deryll le Libertin says:

    I’m a capitalist to the core, personally i think crafting your individuality/identity is all about being authentic. We all gain inspiration and/or emulate people and things but is all about your personal touch and the story that you bring to it.
    Don’t just be a ‘sheep’ infuse your own philosophy and steez to whatever subculture you align yourself with.
    Nice piece Natasha!!

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  24. SpitzKop says:

    I think she has a point here… Besides the whole ‘green thing’, this notion doesn’t only apply to hippies, but to most social groups as well, in my opion. Let’s be honest people, there are a shit load of people, in this country, that fellow every commercial trend that exists. Get their look from what they see on TV and like only music that they here on radio or in commercialized clubs. One could say, the label ‘hippies’ like ‘jocks’ for instance, has become a social group that some want to fellow due to the ‘look’ or the image. Like Nissim said earlier, a hippie use to be a whole different thing back in the day and it meant something to be one. It was a movement, if you will. Personally, I try to distance myself from commercial influences, in terms of what music I listen to, but I know for a fact, personally, that there is no complete way that I can not be influenced in, some way, by commercialism. Everybody has their tastes, but I find it a lazy trend to just adopted a look. I believe, putting the effort into finding what you really like, make it worth the effort in the end…

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0