Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
WORK-LIFE BALANCE / JAN. 20, 2015
version 3, draft 3

Six Counterculture Icons That Became a Capitalist’s Wet Dream

Counterculture is a movement and lifestyle that opposes the status quo. The most famous counterculture movement was that of the ‘60s hippies that believed in civil and women’s rights and stood against the war in Vietnam. These movements have always carried a set of symbols to help identify the participators, and those symbols have been used for gain time and time again. Here are some counterculture icons that would make any Capitalist lick his lips with greed.

John Lennon’s New York City Shirt

This photo by Bob Gruen is an iconic symbol of the great musician and his affinity for the city of New York. The picture shows Lennon in the famous New York City shirt with cut-off sleeves, his round glasses and his characteristic mop top. This image is not only reproduced in mass as a poster that has adorned more college dorm walls than any other object, image or bodily fluid, but it also made the actual shirt an icon. Not only is the shirt in the picture reproduced but you can buy a shirt that has John Lennon wearing the shirt. That some real Inception type stuff.

Che Guevara’s head

No not his actual head, but the photograph that has been infinitely reproduced and reissued by Alberto Korda. The artist never claimed one ‘red’ cent from the sale of the picture since he was a strong proponent of communism. The image was then given (or sold, this isn’t definitive) to a wealthy Italian publisher where it was put on the cover of Che’s Bolivian diary, without any credit to the artist. Finally, the most iconic iteration of the image was created by Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick and produced in mass and distributed (again for free) amongst people in London. This story is all tragedy and artistic thievery though. In 2000, Korda sued Smirnoff for using the image in an alcohol commercial which he felt was unbefitting to the revolutionary’s image. Korda gave the $50.000 out of court settlement to the Cuban healthcare system, and Fitzpatrick signed over the rights to his red, black and white image to the William Soler Pediatric Cardiology Hospital in Havana, Cuba and any revenue it may create.

The Peace Symbol

The quintessential piece of counterculture imagery - the three pronged piece symbol - finds its way into graffiti and protests of today. Almost 60 years after its inception. Originally used as the logo for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, it was quickly adopted generally as an anti-war symbol. The artist laid no claim to what he created insuring that the peace symbol would be forever associated with the pungent odor of patchouli and B.O because it is free to use unlike deodorant.

The Anarchist A

This is a readily recognizable symbol with connotations of chaos, but as this is a huge philosophical debate we will not get into it. This symbol is usually seen it at protests, riots or Hot Topic. This ideology is very intensive and usually associated with workers’ rights and revolution. The image of the rough A in a circle was been made famous by punk rock musicians that printed and drew it on EVERYTHING.

Bandanas

Colored bandanas originated in the gay community as a symbol of complacency of certain sexual acts. Of course, due to the visibility and social acceptability of the lifestyle in the 80s and 90s, the bandanas were phased out but adopted by various gangs so they could easily identify friends or foes. The most famous colors are red and blue made popular by the Eastside vs Westside conflict of the 90s. Even with being negatively associated with gang culture, bandanas sell like hot cakes for everyone from hikers, tennis players and douchie hipsters.

Is there a counterculture symbol that I might have missed? Well let me know in the comment section below.

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