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Archive for February, 2012

Aside

E is for England

In the 80’s, England was  an unhappy place. Unemployment was hitting over 3million people and gang violence/football hooligans was undoubtedly effecting even more than that. Race violent was rife. The English youth  were struggling to find an icon it can subscribe to, as identities were lost due to a failing music system in what is described as a post punk era.

Soon to be DJ and one of the founders of Rave culture, Nicky Halloway went for a holiday in Ibiza. The year was 1987. Trying to leave the “stiff upper lip” society (Chemical Generation) Halloway travelled around Ibiza to settle in San Rafael, where he found “the weirdest people from every continent”.

These people, fuelled on ecstasy, were dancing and most important “freeing inhibitions” (Chemical Generation) and soon Halloway felt compelled to take this new vibe back to Englan – which he called Balearic Sound.

DJ Nick Holloway opened a club called Trip in June 1988, “The ecstasy and the music came together. It was all part of the package. People who hadn’t done ecstasy didn’t really get it…and as soon as they did an “e”they got it” (Chemical Generation)

Mimicking the Hippie subculture, the rave culture started to encourage ‘ravers’ to feel the love and spread the happiness. Gary, an x-gang member who was interviews in Chemical Generation said “ecstasy was a pacifier” claiming soon all the gang and hooligan violence vanished.

Gary also claimed there was massive progress in race relations too, sighting that  races, nationalities, football club allegiance and social classes were all seen dancing in clubs, enjoying it.

As the popularity grew so did need to hold larger raves, and now they were moved to various fields across the M25, thus causing a game of cat and mouse with ravers and cops. These ravers, most of which were guided to the location via a phone messaging service, were causing both noise and traffic issues in their quest to ‘rave’. This angered local police who started to break up these raves.

Extending the cat and mouse game rave promoters started to hire lawyers to attend the raves and agrue with the police – many times winning and earning the polices permission to continue with their party.

Coupled with these wide eyed members of society, who were only acting on Thatchers instructions of “go get it” in a bit to promote entrepreneurship – there also came the dark side and thus drug dealing became linked to raving.

John White, an ex-drug dealer claimed during his time prior to the rave culture nobody showed him “love” or ever offered him a job – so drug dealing became a natural progression. Sighting  every time he answered the phone he would earn £50.

To combat this drug dealing The Criminal Justice Act was introduced. This act gave police wide  ranging powers to outlaw illegal raves but the police were also  given increased powers under the Entertainment Bill. This included fines for holding unlicensed raves  were increased  to £20,000 and six months imprisonment

But, for every new law and bill introduced the ravers found a new method to hold their events. Ministry of sound was granted an all night licence and thus became the hotspot to attend – birthing the new trend of super clubs.

Although the masses were only looking for sweet harmony… It is not easy to say who is right here, the law forbids the use of illegal substances – just like LSD in the 50’s, but as Boy George states at the start of Chemical Generation “it allowed an entire generation to free their inhibitions” and now these people are working as “designs, graphic artists even polititions”

There has been a ‘huge wave of creativity”, openness to gay people, openness to different races – can all this be stemmed from people dancing together fuelled by the “currency of the clubland”?

Moral panic… What is it?

Moral panics occur when media and society link youth culture to juvenile delinquency, as video games and music were to the 1999 Columbine shootings. Panics even arouse from Elvis Presley, impairing the morals of minors with his hip-swivelling.

While researching moral panic I came across this blog that introduced me to the concept. I feel it is so accurate I could not introduce it my self any better, so here goes:

“Moral panic is an interesting social phenomenon that can have tragic results. The term is used to describe a state of panic induced in a large group of people, who feel that a societal norm or an aspect governing the safety of people is being seriously threatened. The term is the creation of sociologist Stanley Cohen, who examined the way that Mods and Rock and Roll fans were perceived as a threat to society in the 1960s and early 1970s. Moral panic clearly existed prior to Cohen creating the term. Virtually every dance style introduced in the 20th century created such panic; even the waltz was condemned much earlier as a sure path to sin because the couples embraced each other.

Most new music styles, and the fans of such styles, have induced — at least in small-scale —moral panic. From ministers condemning the evils of rock and roll to significant news coverage of the hippie culture and from Kurt Cobain’s death to the Goth movement, people may become significantly afraid that a corruptible influence is likely to cause harm to their children and their way of life. These concerns are often inflated by excessive coverage in the media of a few events that would indicate all children who picked up a Nirvana album would commit suicide, or all children who donned black eye shadow would decide to worship vampires.”

Moral panics can be broken into 3 segments

1.  Occurrence and signification

An event occurs and, because of its nature, the media decide it is worthy of dramatic coverage (“Full Colour Pics of Satanic Abuse Site”, “Razorblade Found In Babyfood”, “Terrorist Cell plot attack” etc) and the event is signified as a violent, worrying one.

2.  social implications

Connections are made between one event and  society as a whole. After the initial event, the life of the story is extended through the contributions of ‘expert’ opinionmakers, who establish that this one event is just the tip of the iceberg, and that it is part of an overall pattern which constitutes a major social menace (“Child abuse figures on the up” “Safety concerns at babyfood packing plants”,”Youth Groups targeted by Extremists” etc etc). Thus public attention is focused on the issues

3. Social Control

Moral panics seek some sort of resolution and this often comes with a change in the law, designed to further penalise those established as the threatening deviants at the source of the panic (“New clampdown on devil-worshippers”. “Strict New Safety Controls on Babyfood”, “Hate Groups Banned”). This satisfies the public who feel they are empowered politically by the media.

Moral panic to me is like scaremongering,   the use of fear to influence other people into taking a certain action or thinking a certain way. for me, the biggest scale of scaremongering is been held daily in the US.

The Unites States terror alert, for me, is the biggest use of moral panic known at this age.  It was set up post 9-11 to warn US citizens and the world of the chances of an attack. in my opinion it is just a method to creating and justified  moral panic among the masses. by constantly raising and lowering it the masses do not know what to expect and are constantly been kept of their toes.

an example of moral panic been spread

If we do not take steps to preserve the purity of blood, the Jew will destroy civilisation by poisoning us all. (Hitler, 1938)

final quote from Cohen:

More moral panics will be generated and other, as yet nameless, folk devils will be created. This is not because such developments have an inexorable inner logic, but because our society as present structured will continue to generate problems for some of its members…and then condemn whatever solution these groups find

Subcultures

For this post I have decided to focus on two subcultures. For me, they are totally separate but yet the inner workings & the reason the formed stem along the same lines. The two subcultures I would like to discuss are hip hop/early rap and punk.

Following our review of Teddie Boy subculture in class I was thrilled to see the comparisons between this culture and hip hop. On a general front both focused strongly on style, music, women, and a display of wealth – by those who lacked the funds and the opportunities to actually be wealthy.

Hip hop is the combination of two separate slang terms—”hip” meaning current or in the know, and “hop”, for the hopping movement. Hip hop generally consists of 4 mail elements. these include Djing, grafitti, break-dance and MC-ing.

Hip Hop started on the streets on the Bronx in 1974 by Jamaican born DJ Clive “Kool Herc” Campbell is credited as being highly influential in the pioneering stage of hip hop music,after moving to New York at the age of thirteen. Campbell created the blueprint for hip hop music and culture by building upon the Jamaican tradition of toasting impromptu, boastful poetry and speech over music which he witnessed as a youth in Jamaica. Early practitioners of hip hop included the sugar hill gang, Run DMC and The Bestie Boys

Although a very male orientated genre, hiphop did feature some women such as Lady B,  Sha Rock and even went as far to influence Blondie’s song Rapture – featuring a rapping vocal by lead singer Debbie Harry and mentions Fab 5 Freddy and Grandmaster Flash, furthering hip-hop’s push into the mainstream.

Hip hop has made a considerable social impact since its inception in the 1970s. Patterson (a sociology professor at Harvard University) argues that mass communication is controlled by the wealthy, government, and businesses in Third World nations and countries around the world.

He also credits mass communication with creating a global cultural hip hop scene. As a result, the youth absorb and are influenced by the American hip hop scene and start their own form of hip hop. Patterson believes that revitalization of hip hop music will occur around the world as traditional values are mixed with American hip hop musical forms, and ultimately a global exchange process will develop that brings youth around the world to listen to a common musical form known as hip hop.

It has also been argued that rap music formed as a “cultural response to historic oppression and racism, a system for communication among black communities throughout the United States”.QUOTE This is due to the fact that the culture reflected the social, economic and political realities of the disenfranchised youth

On the other side of the world, around the same time the UK was bracing its self doe a sub culture called punk. Punk is a counter culture it cannot be pinpointed exactly when the movement began. However, most would agree that it was sometime in 1975. Britain was suffering from a recession at the time, and in times of extreme hardship, people look for an outlet for their anger (Cahill 1998: 1).

This is exactly what happened in Great Britain. Adolescents became angry and showed their frustration and dissatisfaction of situations or conditions. In 1975, the poor working class youths of Britain began to use the style of the New York punk scene. Adolescents were angry because they seemed domed to living out an existence on the dole. This, coupled with normal adolescent feelings of isolation and estrangement gave rise to the punk movement. Punk music became a strong way in which pinks could give vent to their feelings and identify themselves as a counter culture. Their dress also became a means of identification. “Punk as a subculture was beginning to take shape, conformity was what punk stood against” (Cahill 1998: 1).

Although punks are frequently categorised as having left-wing or progressive views, punk politics cover the entire political spectrum. Punk-related ideologies are mostly concerned with individual freedom and anti-establishment views. Common punk viewpoints include anti-authoritarianism, a DIY ethic, non-conformity, direct action and not selling out. Other notable trends in punk politics include nihilism, anarchism, socialism, anti-militarism, anti-capitalism, anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-nationalism, anti-homophobia, environmentalism, vegetarianism, veganism and animal rights …..

So, why did I choose to blog about these intertests…

Well, Punk, as we know was derived from societies struggles and upheavals against Britan. Tatcher was in power, unemployment was hitting 9%, people needed a way out of the slums.. So out of this anger and frustration punk was born!

Thousands of miles away, the streets of the Bronx faced the same termoil, starvation, debt, crime and no way to escape.. The black community decided to entertain their selfs, on the street, by using music to pass the time…

So, although they were over the same period, for the same reasons, but thousands of mines apart – 2 music genres were born out of fustrtation, greed and poverty… which changed the world…..


Culture and ME

The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.

Culture for me is everything I dont have to do. It ranges from the clothes I wear to the very music I listen to. It has a wide range of influences and ambitions. Many of my interests contradict each other but yet they are the very essence of my existence.

I am a practitioner of jiu jitsu, dubbed the human chess game. Jiu Jitsu is said  to considered as a form of martial arts that was handed down from ancient Samurai warriors of Japan. It has become one of the more preferred disciplines around the world. The movements of Jiu-jitsu are mostly made up of ground-grappling, throws, punches, and kicks. The martial arts discipline also teaches the student how to handle weapons. The techniques applied in Jiu-jitsu centre mostly on the use of leverage as oppose to brute strength. This means that mastery of the techniques is what matters. (quote)

Because of its strong historical links, and origins from the Samurai warriors, jui jitsu (BJJ) is known as a gentle art unlike Boxing (which has a blood sport attachment to it)

JJ teaches the weak to overcome the strong, teaches respect, patience. Unlike bloodsport martial arts, whose practitioners are thought to hate their opponents and pummel them until their body gives in, JJ takes a gentle side.JJ victors will maintain an aggressive stance on opponants – who choose to “tap” (quit) rather than actually face harm

 Students of BJJ are thought to respect their opponents, thus outskilling and out thinking them

By been dubbed a human chess game, JJ has received a reputation of a peaceful art.. therefore been classes as a high culture activity..

On the flip side of things I also like MMA. Mma stands for mixed martial arts and unlike BJJ is a blood sport. MMA encourages fighters to beat the other guy into submission… and therefore is a low class cultural activity.. But.. I love it….

 So, the distinction for me? High culture involves a lot of thinking.. chess, art, classical music, BJJ and so on.. Mass culture requires less thinking skills from the audience

 Harsh….? Perhaps.. but for me….it sums Mass and high culture up

Media Technologies

Rather than decipher the entire reading we were giving and blog about them, I would like to talk about a new factor I was introduced to. Hot and cool media

Throughout the progression of the media we have seen many shifts in from, ranging from the transition from oral and written communication to digital/mass communication.

From my studies it was obvious that not only was the media form changing but so was the control and power that was connected to these media forms.

During the oral communication phase, power was maintained by the tribal leaders & high kings. The ability to convey stories via the spoken word or song. In this case the power was with the performer.

With the introduction of the written word the power has shifted from the performer to the the scribe or holder of these written records.From this era the quote “history is always written by the victors” was stemmed. 

This for me was the first sign of corruption of power when it came to the control of communication.

With the onset of the industrial  revolution and more important the printing press the written word finally  obtained its freedom. Gaining the ability to mass produce printed works the masses regained a fraction of lost power. Printed works – although this invention was designed to reproduce the bible and instructions for machines used in work – were easily distributed to the masses. This new ability formed the first political groups, as we were told by Innis.

But this era also formed a new division of media refered to as hot media.

“Hot media are  high definition and data -intense with a a large amount of information conveyed. Usually to a single one of the human senses” 

McLuhan argues that the ability to mass produce books and, later newspapers precipitated an end to the age of oral, informal, face-to-face communication and its replacement by a society so dominated by standardised print media that the human senses because fragmented because everything was reduced to and dictated by the form of the written word.

McLuhan suggests, print media were amenable to such hierarchical arrangements .Isolated, individualised and silent, the reader is dictated to by the one directional, linear organisation and the intense detail of the information in the text.Thus, print media was responsible for the development of an early capitalist society dominated by rigid cultural hierarchies, standardisation and individual isolation.

With the development of electronic media – a cool technology, which McLuhan believed would liberate audiences from the restriction of the print age -we were gifted a ‘mechanical, one-way expansion from centres to margins’. We invented the television  and incresed the development of the golbal village

Television was seen as spontaneous, intimate, informal and incomplete – inviting creative audiunce participation. Which McLuhan argues was ‘ no longer relevant to our electronic world’ 

This was the birth of cool media…. According to McLuhan, low-definition channels of communication such as television and telephones that stimulate several different senses and require high audience participation.

Postman, in 1997,  summed up television ‘…is out coltures principal mode of knowing its self. Therefore…how television stages the world becomes the model for how the world is properly to be staged’

There is no murder so brutal, no earthquake so devastating, no political blunder so costly–for that matter, no ball score so tantalizing or weather report so threatening–that it cannot be erased from our minds by a newscaster saying, “Now… this.” the newscaster means that you have thought long 

enough on the previous matter (approximately forty-five seconds), that you must not be morbidly preoccupied with it (let us say, for ninety seconds), and that you must now give your attention to another fragment of news or a commercial

So, what nowEven Mander says.. far from been neutral, television its self predetermined who ass use it, how they shall use it, what effects it will have on individual lives and… what sort of political forms will inevitably emerge.

so, what now, that we have left the electronic phase and entered the digital phase?

First we need to fully examine perhaps McLuhans boldest and most renounced statement.. “the medium is the message” 

Mander, McLuhan and Postman, labelled technologically determinist’s, ‘assume that the inherent biases of the media technologies dictate their use and impact in perdictable ways, regardless of who develops and controls them, who uses them and what socio-cultural context they are places within’

The internet may have as much potential to facilitate hot forms of communication, As McLuhan says ‘low intensity cool ones, just as it may offer as many opportunities for reinforcement of existing social structures and relations of power as it does for their transformation, Marginal political groups might use it as a means to coordinate subversive protests, powerful coporations to bombard consumers with ad’s’

McChesney claims ‘large scale commercial organisations and governments have been able to exploit and dominate the internet, using it as a means to consolidate their strength and influence…

So, what now…? we have now combined hot and cool media forms and by doing this we have concentrated the power sources into one medium, just like before in the oral, written and electronic phases. Only now, the elite who control this power not only have the ability to control a small group of people.. but they have control of the entire global village

postman

A cool insight into Neil Postman

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Postman