Opposite Upcycle Aesthetic: Peace and Antigovernment in the 70s

My upcycle project uses the aesthetic of retro American patriotism. The project uses red, white, and blue bottle caps to model the American moon landing. This aesthetic invokes the sentiment of American patriotism and reminisces about times when the United States was together working towards a common goal. The opposite of this aesthetic is the peace and antigovernment movements in the 70s. This aesthetic borders on the hippie aesthetic, and includes characteristics such as peace signs, government protests, and vibrant colors.

[1] Americans outside the capitol building protesting the Vietnam War

The 70s peace and antigovernment aesthetic emerged during the Vietnam War, when Americans became increasing against the idea of war. Anti-war sentiments had been starting to form around college campuses in the early 60s, but the start of the Vietnam War in 1965 grew the American population’s dis-interest in war. Thousands of protests started across the United States calling for the government to back out of the war and bring the troops home. The anti-war and anti-government even sparked a larger genre of aesthetic with the hippie movement throughout the 60s and 70s. This movement included the famous peace sign and phrases such as “make love, not war”.

[2] A student anti-Vietnam War rally in 1968

The interesting thing about this aesthetic is that it emerged the exact same way that the American patriotism aesthetic emerged: through war. Throughout World War 1 and 2, war and fighting other countries initially brought the American population together, fighting a common enemy, and accomplishing amazing scientific feats, such as the moon landing. However, the patriotism sentiment wore off once the Vietnam War started, and this war brought a new aesthetic of antigovernment and peace.

[3] Student led government protest in North Carolina

The peace and antigovernment aesthetic is not necessarily anti-America. The aesthetic is centered around Americans coming together and promoting peace in their country. The symbols of this aesthetic include flowers and most importantly, peace signs. The peace sign was a symbol to stop the war in Vietnam but quickly turned into its own aesthetic. Flowers and vibrant colors also characterize this aesthetic, as many protesters would often put flowers in the muzzles of the guns of the crowd control officers suppressing the protests. This aesthetic is laid back, and centered around counter culture and anti-organization. The aesthetic emerged predominantly from the hippie aesthetic and took many characteristics from the hippies, such as vibrant colors and flowers. This aesthetic was a lifestyle for these protestors, who wanted to promote love not war.

[4] An American girl confronts the American National Guard during an anti-Vietnam protest

[5] Peace march during the 70s

Interestingly, war was the thing that started the patriotism sentiment in the United States was also the thing that hindered it. The opposite of the patriotism aesthetic emerged: the peace and antigovernment aesthetic. With it’s peace signs, vibrant colors, and laid back sentiment, the peace and antigovernment aesthetic changed the United States population, and its government forever. To this day you can see remnants of this aesthetic in pop culture, as it has become generalized over the years.




[1] https://www.history.com/news/vietnam-war-hippies-counter-culture

[2] https://www.thoughtco.com/1970s-timeline-1779954

[3] https://www.ourstate.com/the-1970s-a-leader-for-peace/

[4] https://www.magnumphotos.com/newsroom/politics/behind-the-image-protesting-vietnam-war-with-flower/

[5] https://www.pinterest.com/pin/march-for-peace–704320829216987963/

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • I never considered the sheer contrast between the government and protestors regarding appearance during this time. Compared to law enforcement’s uninformed and intimidating presence, the protestors are usually in plain or even vibrant attires. I am curious if this time had produced any works of art, as no doubt some would express their emotions in this manner.

    • Hi Vincent, thanks for reading my post. I agree there is a contrast between the government and protestor appearance. This time period did produce many works of art, mainly introducing psychedelic art pieces. Many new musical artists emerged during this time as well playing new genres of music, such as the Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd.


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