November 20, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 46  

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Rebels without a cause?

We have all been exposed to rebels at one time or another; whether it is Jimmy Dean, Madonna or Neil Young. The question is what defines a rebel?

For many of us, it seems every rebellious act has already been done before. How is it possible to rebel when there is simply nothing left to do?

Perhaps the act of rebellion is just in constant flux, continually redefining itself; if everything has already been done then perhaps modern day rebels are just doing the same thing in their own unique style.

Examples are Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, who some might argue are redefining what Madonna did 10 years ago. However, others may say Spears and Aguilera's style is clearly not an act of rebellion, but a lame attempt to show cleavage and ass for the sake of the almighty buck.

An act of rebellion is an act of individuality, yet numerous people hold the skewed notion that by joining an organized group, they have somehow created within themselves a rebellious nature. As a movement grows, its ranks swell with people who are only attracted to being a rebel, rather than being attracted to the cause itself.

The result is that rebellion itself becomes mainstream and people begin identifying themselves as rebels -which turns them into anything but.

As generations have come to be defined there has always seemed to be something to rebel against. Similarly, there have always seemed to be types of rebels; the greasers in the '50s, the hippies of the '60s or the punk movement from the '70s. If you wanted to stretch it, you could claim the '80 had rockers or head-bangers. But there doesn't seem to be any current rebel stereotype.

Can our generation ever truly be rebellious?

Looking back, we have been able to trace these rebels through the decades in part because of the advantage of hindsight. Perhaps we can't truly discover what is rebellious because it is only being defined now.

But we can safely say that our generation's form of rebellion is different from others before us. The Internet has formed a medium in which rebels have found persuasive methods to further their rebellion. And there still is the mainstream component of the Internet for rebels to rail against.

Although our generation does not have a Great Depression or a World War to mobilize us, we do have incidents such as the Columbine shootings and the 9/11 attacks to fuel our rebellious fire. However, unlike generations past, we internalize these events. This internalization does little to affect our outward appearance, hence the idea that rebellion is a misnomer in our generation -yet this may explain why our generation is using more alcohol than ever before.

Our ideas of what is a rebel remains individually defined. More than ever, people cannot and will not be able to define it, but one thing is for sure: there will always be rebels.



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