The Modern Day Rebel: Is there such a thing?


Publicity still of James Dean for the film Rebel Without a Cause; 1955, Warner Bros.

Blake Reid, Entertainment Editor

What is a rebel? 

If almost everything today is acceptable, what makes a modern day rebel? 

Let’s consider the act of protesting for a second. Protesting today is not only acceptable, but it’s encouraged. Protesting today is common. It’s expected. The belief used to be that protesting was unorthodox and you were looked at as a rebel— “you’re protesting?!” Nowadays, not protesting is almost looked at as unorthodox, like you don’t care about society— “you’re not protesting?!” 

Voting is a pretty big deal nowadays, right? Not voting is almost like overlooking society, would you say? Does the modern day rebel vote? Or does the modern day rebel simply disregard? 

Is it anyone who expresses individuality? Anyone who breaks boundaries? But who sets those boundaries? No matter how progressive, they push on?

Let’s look at The Beatles for a second. Why were they rebels? Amidst the countless reasons why (most including flipping social norms on their head), one is because of their long hair. Guys at the time didn’t have long hair. Then, these Brits come and blow everyone away just because they had medium-length hair. It’s safe to say that the majority of the older generation hated this. They not only refused to listen to The Beatles, but they went as far as to restrict their kids from listening to them. Of course, just as The Beatles were rebelling, the younger generation were rebelling as well by secretly listening to The Beatles anyways, disregarding their parents’ government. It’s a constant cycle one rebels, others follow, government usually steps in. In terms of hair today, long hair, short hair, pink hair, hair that isn’t even hair doesn’t matter because it’s all acceptable today. It’s not a bad thing at all, but what I’m posing is the question of what it takes  nowadays to rebel. 

As we evolve, new ideas and new actions evolve with us. Perspective is everything though. What’s normal to you may not be normal to someone else vice-versa. It’s all relative to where you were brought up. For example, a three hundred pound grown man with green hair walking around in nothing but a pink tutu may not be unusual in a place like New York. However, in a place like Oklahoma, that might not be so everyday. So notice how I say “acceptable” rather than “normal.” As we’ve evolved, more and more has become acceptable, not necessarily normal.

Let’s go back to a previous statement I made: one rebels, others follow, the government usually steps in. One of the most notable rebels of all time is one we all know: Jesus. (Disregard the religious connotation and focus on the person himself.) Jesus was a true revolutionary. Essentially, Jesus claimed to everyone that he was the son of God. And since Jesus was willing to help all in need of help (regardless if you were a straight man or a criminal), people started to follow him. But what does it mean when people start to follow someone? It means that they stopped following someone else. In this case, that “someone else” was the, I guess you could say, the ‘government of that day.’ So the ‘government of that day’ (upset that Jesus was taking followers away from them) stepped in and told him that he needs to stop saying that he’s the son of God. Jesus said he can’t do that. They said to “either stop saying it or be crucified.” Jesus said, “do what you gotta do, I understand.” Jesus knew the consequences, but continued to do what he believed because that’s what was true to him. 

So is the modern day rebel anyone who accepts the consequences that come with the rebellion, but continues on because that’s what they believe in?

From Ernest Hemingway, a man who sums it up, “No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest, and if it affirms courage and grace under pressure.”