Now we are forty years on, in the time of another unpopular war, and HAIR has been revived. And it offers to one-hundred-dollars-a-ticket audiences all the revolutionary fervor of an American Idol show. Meaning, it is an act of cultural karaoke. Breaking fourth walls, sex talk and hints of nudity shock no more. The virulent anti-government rhetoric of the Viet Nam era and any semblance of flag abuse have been carefully scrubbed from the script to guarantee that. And The Hippie, once a walking, talking, drugged-out mockery of bourgeois values, is now a cliché suitable for costume parties, along with pirates and Elvis.
“Look, Maude, look at these wild hippies in the Hirschfeld Theater jumping into the audience and shaking their long hair. Look at the three seconds of nudity. Look at those cute anti-war signs. Look at the hallucinations. Isn’t it cute and zesty?”
HAIR wasn’t cute and zesty when it shattered theatrical convention in 1968. Hippies weren’t cute and zesty when Rado and Ragni turned them into singing dancing clichés in their iconic show.
Of course, what hippies mostly did while conducting their revolution was smoke cigarettes, take drugs, have sex and listen to records. So maybe permanent enshrinement in Broadway theaters was the least unhealthy fate awaiting them.
Give me a head with hair? Please, take it.