Do sub-cultures still exist?
A subculture is a group of people who have distinct or hidden culture that differs from the larger culture to which they belong. Subcultures are usually perceived as being negative since they are characterized with criticism of the dominant standards of the society. Some authors argue that subculture is a conglomeration of likeminded persons who feel that the standards of the society have neglected them (Hebdige, 2007). Thus the subculture allows such individuals to develop a sense of identity. It is also argued that a subculture is subversion from the normal standards. Individuals belonging to a subculture can be easily identified through their negative relations to work, class, association with territory instead of property, movement out of formal homes to non-domestic forms of belonging, their ties to excess and exaggeration and their rejection of the ordinary life and mystification. Members of a subculture are characterized by their commitment to a pattern which influences their daily life, their identity, their distinctiveness and their autonomy. An example of subculture is the punk subculture which had a distinctive style of clothing.
Subcultures differ from mainstream culture because of their unique trends. Unlike subcultures, culture is comprehensive, culture is learned, it is manifested within boundaries of acceptable behavior, there is limited consciousness of the culture, and it lies between static and dynamic. For instance the punk subculture is made of young members aged above sixteen years and are known to be rebellious. The punk group members do not wear appropriately, that is, they put on rugged or worn out jeans, black and baggy t-shirts which have offensive writings. Their hair cuts are unusual wildly spiked colored. They also have their body pierced. All these features are opposite of culture which is often acceptable.
There is need to understand subcultures their styles could be adopted for commercial purposes. The subversive allure of subcultures have been exploited for long by businesses in their search for Cool that is very important in the selling of any kind of products. This cultural appropriation for commercial purposes often results in extinction or evolution of a subculture leading to adoption of new styles which are alien to the mainstream culture. This continued evolution of subcultures provides constant unique ideas for adoption in the selling of products. An example of subcultures which has been exploited in commercial selling of products include music such as jazz, punk, Goth, rave and hip hop. This paper seeks to provide extensive evidence that subcultures do exist. With regard to this we shall specifically look at existence of subcultures in the music industry.
Punk subculture is a diverse array of ideologies that form expressions through fashion, visual art, dance, literature, and film that emerged from punk rock. The subculture was developed in the United Kingdom, United States of America, and Australia in the mid 1970s. The exact place of origin of punk subculture has been a controversy with the punk movement. The subculture is said to have been influenced by philosophical, political, and artistic movements of the time. Punk rock in itself has a variety of diverse variety of musical origins both within and outside rock and roll genre.
The subculture is majorly centered on listening to recorded music or attending live concerts characterized with loud, aggressive punk rock. The use of distorted guitars, noisy drumming, and metals is prevalent in the subculture. They also have unique style of punk rock that are short, have simple basic arrangements that use few cords, and lyrics that justify punk values and ideologies that range from nihilism to no drugs (Hebdige, 2007). Punk rock is played in small bands rather than solo artists. The band usually consists of a singer, overdriven electric guitars, an electric bass player, and a drummer, and backup vocals may also be present.
In fashion, punk subculture seeks to outrage others by using highly theatrical clothing, cosmetics, hairstyles, jewelry, tattoos, and body modification. The popularly known punk outfits have been leather, rubber, and vinyl clothing which the mainstream culture associate with transgressive sexual practices. Some punks put on tight jeans, plaid/tartan trousers, kilts or skirts, t-shirts, leather jackets decorated with painted band logos, pins and buttons, and metal studs (Huq, 2006). Their foot wears include converse sneakers, skate shoes, and brothel creepers. Early punks wore clothes with Nazi swastika symbols for shock value. Some punks style their hair into Mohawks and other dramatic shapes; for instance they can style it into spikes, coloring it with vibrant unnatural hues.
The punk aesthetic determines the kind of art that punks enjoy; their art is always with iconoclastic and satirical sensibility. In most cases punk artwork are on album covers, fliers for concerts, and punk zine. Their visual art is usually straightforward with messages that are clear. In most cases punk art is mostly about political issues especially social injustices and economic disparities. In some cases, punk artwork may display selfishness, stupidity, or apathy mainly to provoke the contempt in the audience.
Punks are spread across all walks of life and economic classes. In some cases it is regarded as a subculture that tends to adore gender equality in terms of its ideology. Punk subculture has also been associated with substance abuse and violence by the mainstream cultures. In small towns, punks form small local scenes that may have a few members while in major cities the situation is different (Huq, 2006). Members of the scene are usually evaluated in terms of authenticity of their commitment to the philosophies or values of the scene which usually ranges from political beliefs to lifestyle practices. A typical punk scene is one that is made of hardcore bands, fans who attend concerts and protest against some social ills in the society
Goth subculture is a contemporary subculture currently existing in many countries across the world. It has its roots in England and it primarily came into play in 1980s in the gothic rock scene which is an offshoot of Post-punk genre. It is said that the gothic subculture has survived as compared to other subcultures that were formed in the same era and in fact it has continued to diversify. The imagery and cultural proclivities are influenced by the gothic literature of the 19th century together with horror films and BDSM culture (Jenks, 2005). Gothic subculture has tastes associated with music, aesthetics, and fashion. Music in this case encompasses different styles such as gothic rock, neoclassical, darkwave, deathrock, neo-Medieval, and ethereal. Fashion and clothing style in this subculture range from deathrock, punk, and Victorian attires, or it may be a combination.
Media has profoundly enhanced the development of the Goth subculture; the culture was well-established when the connection between Goth and horror fiction movies. For this matter, Goths are preferred and favored to be characters in horror novels and films. For example, the movie, ‘The Crow’ is a perfect example where gothic music and style were used. The graphic novel series ‘The Sandman’ has extensively influenced Goths where the author uses characters like dark, brooding Dream and Death his sister. The 21st Century Goth written by Mick Mercer and released in 2002, explores the modern state of the Goth scene across the globe has strongly influenced the evolution of the Goth subculture (Jenks, 2005).
Visual arts have also been diversely used to influence the Goth subculture, different musicians, painters and photographers like to associate themselves with Goth. For instance, they like their work to be based on mystic, dark and passionate motif s which is a real Goth style. In painting and photography, the spectrum varies from erotic artwork to passionate and lovely images of ghosts and vampires. Dark colors and sentiments are preferred, and this is similar to Gothic fiction. In addition, Goth visual art is always intertwined with Goth music, for example, Nathaniel Milljour visual artwork is vastly used by music bands and nightclubs.
Goth fashion is always associated with dark colors, morbid, eroticized fashion and style of dress. In a typical way, the gothic fashion includes dyed black hair, black fingernails, dark eyeliner, and black period styled clothing. This fashion is taken from the Elizabethan, Victorian, or Medieval periods. However, the extent to which Goths embrace this style varies amongst individuals and the geographical locality, but virtually all of them wear some of these elements (Muggleton, 2000).
Contrary to the fashion and stylish nature of the Goths, their association with macabre has raised public concern with regard to the psychological fitness of the Goths. According to the gothic norms, they are non-violent individuals. However, academic studies have revealed that Goth is a subculture with higher propensity towards violence and self harm especially within the subculture. For instance, some Goths have been found to commit high profile crimes including school shootings. With regard to this, the main stream culture to perceive Goths as unwanted people in the society like any other subculture.
Rave, rave dance, and rave party words came into play in early 1970s, in 1980s these words were used to describe acid house parties with extremely fast-paced music and light shows. In these parties people dance to dance music played by DJs and in some cases live performance. The genres of electronic dance music played in rave include Electro House, House, Trance, Hardcore Techno, Funktronica, Eurodance, Drum and bass, and Break beat. The music is also accompanied with laser light shows, projected images and artificial fog. The rave subculture originated in the late 1950s in London and has since been nurtured up to date. The subculture is prevalent across the globe and is found in almost all corners of the world. in this section we shall look at the American rave subculture (Muggleton, 2000).
The American rave subculture is an underground nightclub movement promotion that promotes techno music, synthetic drugs, and teen angst. Rave can be defined as a phenomenon that is more spontaneous instance that brings people together for dancing. Rave is associated with secrecy, mobility, youth, music, drugs, fashion, and attitudes. The American Rave is said to have been influenced by the hippies of 1960s, discovers of 1970s, and the punkers of 1980s. To be more specific the subculture is deeply and directly rooted in the acid house phenomenon of UK in 1988. Acid houses are clubs where teenagers take Lysergic Acid Diethylamide and dance to music which particularly designed to heighten the drug effects.
Rave culture is dangerous and illegal, for instance, the prominence use of technologically advanced music, drugs, and deaths caused by fires in acid houses the police began to crack down on the subculture. However, rather than giving up on rave, promoters moved from the skin-tight jeans baggie outfits where rave kids partied to techno music in Detroit. In towns like Tallahassee, Florida there is a legitimate rave venue which operates legally. In addition, in larger cities raves imitate the Underground Café which allows Tallahassee ravers to dance to rave music (Skott-Myhre, 2009).
Members of the mainstream culture are not even aware of the existence of the rave subculture; it is a secretive culture and secrecy is paramount in order to avoid destruction by the authorities. The organizers of raves are clever and brave because they pass information to their customers without the use of the media. In fact they manage inviting thousands of kids to secret rave parties without the use of the media and even without informing the authorities. “The Love parade” rave had more than 7000 individuals and twenty trucks of musical computer equipment; the event was successful without the knowledge of police. Regardless of threats of fines and punishment, it is reported that one rave party had more than 20,000 kids.
The clothing lifestyle of rave kids tends towards primary colors, pertinent wool caps, and untucked shirts decorated with peace signs, happy faces, and corporate logos. Childhood T-shirts, baggy shorts, and Converse or Puma shoes are their common outfits. The kids are also not sexually active, and in most cases they are perceived to be bisexual because males and females because of their cladding (Veitch, 2000). For instance males put on don black disco pants, high heel clogs, and low cut ‘70s shirts especially from Goodwill. Females on the other hand wear baggy childish dresses, funky sandals or high heel gym shoes.
Hip hop subculture came into inception after the hip hop music was invented in the 1970s in African-American communities in the US. The subculture was formed as a response to the historic oppression and racism, and a system of communication with the African American communities. After its emergence the subculture spread around very fast. Hip hop music was invented by DJs creating rhythmic beats by looping breaks on two turntables; this was later accompanied with rap. New dancing and dressing styles arose amongst the fans of this music. Since then the subcultures has undergone refinement and development throughout its history. There have been relationships between graffiti and hip hop due to the prevalent use of use of pervasive language in the two subcultures.
The hip hop subculture has made substantial social impact since its inception in the 1970s. Around the world, the subculture has influenced many young people; youths are being absorbed by the hip hop who are then influenced to start their own style of hip hop. It is also believed that revitalization of the hip hop music will occur around the world as tradition values are continuously mixed with the American hip hop musical styles (Huq, 2006). This will eventually result into a global exchange process that will bring youths across the globe to listen to the same kind of music; hip hop. The main reason for this is that, the subculture reflects the social, economic, and political realities that affect the youths.
The language used in hip hop subculture is distinctively related to slang, and sometimes it is referred to as Black English or Ebonics. Due to successful commercialization of hip hop in the recent past, some words from this subculture have been assimilated into the mainstream cultures. Some academics compare hip hop with satirical works of great poets of the modern era who frankly and boldly use imagery and mood to criticize the society (Veitch, 2000).
The media has also plaid a huge role in promoting hip hop subculture through their extensive television coverage. There are television shows devoted to hip hop; initially, BET was the only TV channel that played hip hop, but in the recent year’s mainstream TV channels like VH1 and MTV have added value and significance to hip hop music by playing it. In addition, the emergence and improvement of the internet many online sites like YouTube and Facebook are offering video and audio hip hop music thus cultivating the culture across the world.
There have been heated debates with regard to the authenticity of the hip hop subculture dating back to its origin. The subculture was associated with protests and freedom of expression due to the oppression suffered by the African-Americans. The argument is whether or not hip hop should exist in its marketable integrated version. For instance it is argued that the authenticity of hip hop is threatened by the larger mainstream cultures.
Reggare is a Swedish word that means a person seeking sexual contact with someone; it is a subculture that is prominently found in countries like Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Germany and Australia. Reggare are always associated with greaser subculture and are often described by their love for hot rod cars. This culture has existed since mid 1950s and has not made any significant change since then. The most important and significant part of this subculture is its association with cars especially the V8-powered cars. In 1960s the most common reggare car was Pontiac Bonneville. The reggare cars are always plentiful, classic, cheap, and with a huge backseat for the Reggare to accommodate all of their friends. The primary source of influence to this subculture comes from the American popular culture of the 1950s, especially from movies such as “Rebel Without a Cause”, and “American Graffiti” (Yockey, 2010).
The clothing and hairstyles of the Reggare are that of 1950s rockabilly that comprise of blue jeans, white t-shirts, cowboy boots, leather or denim jackets. The hair of a reggare is styled up using Brylcreem or any other pomade. The confederate flag (influenced by The Dukes of Hazzard) and peckerwood are popular items in the subculture. In essence the reggare are always rebellious in nature thus embracing the message of the confederate flag.
Reggare are still considered a menace to the society but more often they are regarded as an amusing group of outsiders. They are prominently found in Sweden and in many ways they are viewed in a negative perspective. For instance, because of the rural roots, retro-aesthetics and their unusual pro-American stance, the reggare are considered to be uneducated with low-brow attitude towards sex. In modern movies they are depicted to be cult-characters. The Power Big Meet is the most famous reggare gathering in Sweden, and it is also the biggest car show in the world. The founders of the Reggare subculture were the working class who looked up to the American culture. However, the reggare of today embrace partying and driving American cars (Yockey, 2010).
In Sweden, the most popular reggare hangout places have always been hotdog bars with a chain name Sibylla which is specialized in selling reggare meals. Reggare meal generally comprises of two hotdogs without buns, raksallad, powdered mashed potato, and Pucko. Reggare are also associated to drinking in cars particularly during the cruise events, which is fully legal in Sweden. The subculture is considered immortal in Sweden and most Swedes are proud to associate with. Initially the ages for Reggare’s were in twenties, but nowadays the span is roughly 15-60 years of age. For instance, seeing father and son riding in the same car is a common thing.
Bloijraggare is a slang used by Reggare to mean young men aged between 18 and 22 years who mostly live in the countryside and wishing that they could afford an American car but find themselves cruising around in different car models like Volvo which is outdated model with regard to the modern Reggare.
Mod is a subculture that has its roots in London, England in the late 1950s. The main significant features of the mod subculture include: fashion especially tailor made suits, pop music that comprise of African American soul, Jamaican ska, British beat music and R&B, and Italian motor scooters. An original mod scene is linked with amphetamine-fueled all-night dancing clubs. From 1960s, the mass media used the word mod to describe something that is vastly known to be stylish, fashionable, and popular. The revival of mod in UK was in the late 1970s, followed by North America in early 1980s especially in the southern part of California (Huq, 2006).
The subculture is described to be ‘fashion obsessed and hedonistic cult of the hyper-cool’ especially for people living in uptown estates. They are obsessed with expensive cloths particularly suits that are worn by young mods are extremely expensive. The mods have strong elements of consumerism and shopping, very self-conscious and critical, they like customizing the existing styles, symbols, and artifacts.
Male mods like to wear smooth urbane look that emphasize Italian tailor-made suits with narrow lapels, mohair clothes, button-down collar shirts, thin ties, wool or cashmere jumpers, pointed toe leather shoes, beater boots, tassel loafers, clerk desert boots, and bowling shoes. The hairstyle resembles that of the French Nouvelle Vague cinema actors. Female mods dress androgynously with short haircuts, men’s trousers or shirts, flat shoes, with little make up (Huq, 2006). Miniskirts are also associated with these individuals. Mods link themselves with modern jazz, R&B, blues, and soul music.
Scooters are ideal description of mods as they used them for transportation and the perception that scooters are classy and expensive. The Italian scooters are normally because of the cleanliness, curving shape and gleaming chrome. They usually customize their scooters by painting them in two-tone and candy-flake and over-accessorized with large luggage racks, crash bars, scores of mirrors and fog lights.
In conclusion, from the above discussion we have clearly described the existence of different subcultures across the globe. As we have seen subcultures are usually perceived as being negative since they are characterized with criticism of the dominant standards of the society. Some authors argue that subculture is a conglomeration of likeminded persons who feel that the standards of the society have neglected them. Thus the subculture allows such individuals to develop a sense of identity and belonging (Huq, 2006). We have discussed the presence of different subcultures in the modern times. The punk subculture is majorly centered on listening to recorded music or attending live concerts characterized with loud, aggressive punk rock. The use of distorted guitars, noisy drumming, and metals is prevalent in the subculture. Goth subculture is a contemporary subculture currently existing in many countries across the world. Hip hop, rave, and reggare as we have seen still exist among other subcultures and each have distinct trait that makes it different from other subcultures.
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