Thursday, 15 November 2012

Lecture 5: Subculture and style

Definitions of subculture:

In sociology, anthropology and cultural studies, a subculture is a group of people with a culture (whether distinct or hidden) which differentiates them from the larger culture to which they belong.

Think about subculture being separate from style. 

Lecture themes:
- Skateboarding/ parkour and free running, graffiti as a performance of the city
- The riot Grrrl movement/ feminist subculture
- The portrayal of youth sub culture in film and photography
- Subcultural reactions 

Dogtown and Z boys (2001)

- Documentary directed be stacy ..
- Up to date documentary footage
- Competitiveness and a sport
- Reuse of existing space, an empty swimming pool used as a skate board area

Skater Peggy Oki

- Clothing was chosen for practical use, to protect from injury
- No differentiation between male and female
- Not particularly feminine 

Ian Borden ‘Performing the City

- Urban street skating is more ‘political’ than 1970’s skateboarding‘s use of found terrains: street skating generates new uses that at once work within (in time and space) and negate the original ones
- Argues that street skating gives the body something to do
- Taking in the architecture subconsciously or consciously 
- Changing the urban space, a handrail as a travel for a skate boarder 

Lords of Dogtown (2005)

- “Skateboarders do not so much temporarily escape from the routinized world of school family and social conventions as replace it with a whole new way of life.” (Borden:2001)
- The importance of social interaction

- A method of movement focused on moving around obstacles with speed and efficiency. Originally developed in France, the main purpose of the discipline is to teach participants how to move through their environment by vaulting, rolling, running, climbing and jumping. Parkour practitioners are known as traceurs.
Free running
- A form of urban acrobatics in which participants, known as free runners, use the city and rural landscape to perform movements through its structures
- Placesmoreemphasison freedom of movement and creativity than efficiency

 Yamakasi (2001)

Jump London (2005)


Nancy McDonald The Graffiti Subculture
- Here (on the street) real life and the issues which may divide and influence it, are put on pause. On this liminal terrain you are not black, white rich or poor.
Unless you are female, ‘you are what you write’.
- Is a subcultural activity
- Tagging or putting up your name is a claim to an area/ static space/ wall or building
- Claiming the public back to the individual
- At night, more about the subcultural activity not the style.  

Black graffiti writer Prime says:
- I mean I’ve met people that I would never have met, people like skinheads who are blatantly racist or whatever. I can see it in them and they know we know, but when you’re dealing on a graffiti level, everything’s cool and I go yard with them, they’d come round my house , I’d give them dinner or something.
Describes levelling or different cultural or racial groups, erases boarders of individuality. 

Miss Van

- McDonald suggest that women come to the subculture laden with the baggage of gender in that her physicality (her looks) and her sexuality will be commented on critically in a way that male writers do not experience

- A focus on appearance 
- Overdone, assertion of femininity 

Swoon (us)

- “In the meantime there was a lot of attention coming my way for being female, and it just made me feel alienated and objectified, not to mention patronized.
‘Look at what girls can do-aren’t they cute?’ To hell with that shit. I don’t want it.”

- A black woman resting on the top of a city
- Politically motivated
- Works in urban regeneration
- Uses graffiti to reclaim areas back (run down)

Angela Mc Robbie and Jenny Garber

- Girl subcultures may have become more invisible because the very term ‘subculture’ has acquired such strong masculine overtones (1977)
- Saying most people write about subculture are male
- Child like state, sexual over tones, extreme femininity, totally sugary 

Motorbike girl

- Brigitte Bardot 1960’s
- Suggests sexual deviance which is a fantasy not reflective of most conventional real life femininity at the time

- 60's / 70's
- Suggest powerful and sexual deviant biker female
not really true to the femininity of the time
- Rather the ride the bike, they were an acquaintance 
- Exaggerated masculinity and femininity 

Mod girl 

- Mod culture springs from working class teenage consumerism in the 1960’s in the UK
- Teenage girls worked in cities in service industries for example, or in clothing shops where they are encouraged to model the boutique clothing

- Wear similar clothing to the boy
- Fashion is neat and tidy, unthreatening like the biker fashion
- Mod culture fits better in to what was know as the parent culture
- Acceptability
- Girls could also be a face in culture
- Group identity the was separate from the every day world

Quadrophenia (1979)

- Hebdige outlines the hierarchies within the mod subculture where “the ‘faces’ or ‘stylists’ who made up the original coterie were defined against the unimaginative majority...who were accused of trivialising the mod style”
- Status within subculture

Hippy Girl

- Middle class
- Type of experience, space for lesuire
- Finding yourself, more likely to have access to that space through university or travel

Bad hippy/good hippy 
Janis Joplin vs Flower Power 

Riot Grrrl - Mid 1990's 

- Music scene 
- Issues were covered by the bands, sexuality, rape anything to do with empowerment.
Underground punk movement based in Washington DC, Olympia, Portland, Oregon and the greater Pacific Northwest


- Bands involved, less about the music more about the protest such as:

Bands: Bikini Kill, Bratmobil, Excuse 17, Heavens to Betsy, Fifth Column, Calamity Jane, Huggy Bear, Adickdid, Emily's Sassy Lime, The Frumpies, The Butchies, Sleater- Kinney, Bangs and also queercore like Team Dresch

Influences and origins

- Female punk rockers
- Was seen as one of the pionears of the alternative scene

Bands :The Raincoats, Poly Styrene, LiLiPUT, The Slits, The Runaways/Joan Jett, Patti Smith, Chrissie Hynde, Exene Cervenka, Siouxsie Sioux, Lydia Lunch, Kim Gordon, Neo Boys, Chalk Circle, Ut, Bush Tetras, Frightwig, Anti-Scrunti Faction

Riot Grrrl ???

Jen smith said to alison wolfe:
"This summer is going to be a girl riot"
"political reactive situations"
"Reproduces that punk diy aesthetic" 

- Mount Pleasant Race Riots in 1991
- Bratmobile member Jen Smith (later of Rastro! and The Quails), reacted to the violence by prophetically writing in a letter to Allison Wolfe: "This summer's going to be a girl riot."

What makes this a true subculture?

- Zines revived from 1970’s DIY punk ethic
- In turn this was influenced by posters and graphic design from the Dadaists in the 1920’s 30’s
- Women self- publishing their own music

- historial infuence from the dadaist 
- gives women a voice, self publishing

Media attention turns to the grunge scene
- Image above is Courtney Love and Hole
- Style without subculture
- distortion of the riot girl movement
- girl band of the style but without the political notion

Spice girls

- There for easy consumption
- Girl power, offers very little empowerment
- Reduces any understanding of what power might be 
- Lyrics of the songs betray the emptiness of the song

- Band styling presents a set of visual ‘types’ that are easily consumable by the target audience
- There is no empowerment for young women as there is nothing but the reduction of young women to cartoon representations

Dick Hebdige Subculture: The meaning of Style

- “Subcultures represent ‘noise’ (as opposed to sound): interference in the orderly sequence which leads from real events and phenomena to their representation in the media.”
- Getting us to look at subculture in a separate way as apposed to the media 

The commodity form

- Subcultural signs like dress styles and music are turned into mass produced objects
- Eg: clothing which is ripped as an anarchic anti-fashion statement becomes mass produced with rips as part of the design
- Element of punk fashion that become part of modern fashion design

A threat to the family ?

- The family is the back bond to the country 

- Womens Own 1977 runs a feature on “Punks and Mothers”, smiling, reclining next to the family pool etc.
- Non political threat that ultimately will not disturb traditional values
- Hebdige suggests that the press set up this perceived threat as away of neutralising something that could not be conceived by the petit-bourgeois therefore has to be ‘domesticated’

Zandra Rhodes 9ct White Gold Diamond Safety Pin Brooch

- Although punk seems to challenge eventually and surprisingly quickly it goes mainstream/high end and is turned into “To shock chic” which marks the end of the movement as a subculture.
- Punks transformed the object in a rebellious way, by piercing the skin with it.
- Rise of Nirvana

21st century demonisation

- The hoody become the symbol of the demonised aspect of social society 
- A garment that is to do with lawless ness 
- A badge of belonging in a group as well as unidentifiable to society 

- “Style in particular provokes a double response (in the media): it is alternately
celebrated (in the fashion page) and ridiculed or reviled (in those articles which define subcultures as social problems)”

Bricolage: Edwardian Style- Saville Row-Teddy Boy

- Looks at clothing as mass production

Roger Mayne (1956)

- If girls were out on the street they would 'get into trouble'

- Teddy boy culture was an escape from the claustrophobia of the family, into the street and ‘caff’. While many girls might adopt the appropriate way of dressing, they would be much less likely to spend the same amount of time hanging about on the streets Girls had to.

Skin heads

- Gavin Watson Skins (1980's)

This is England (2006) Shane Meadows 

- The new kid on the estate transforms into a British Skin
- His dad has been killed in the Falklands War and his new friends become a surrogate family
- The film explores the difference between the skinhead style and the politics of the National Front skins as they infiltrate the working class estate in the UK in the 1980’s

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