Archivo de la etiqueta: authenticity

Rock, Youth, Postmodernity and Authenticity

Chapter 7 of the book is probably one of the most interesting so far. It attempts to define youth, letting clear from the beginning that the concept can be a matter of chronology, sociology, ideology, experience, style and attitude. So not only teenagers and young adults can be considered as youth, but also older people that feel young inside, or that are interested in the same things young people are. Once we know at what is he making reference by saying “youth”, he moves on to the description of the baby boomers, people born between 1946 and 1964, just after the War. A lot of these babies were part of the middle class and were raced in the suburbs. Grossberg states the baby boomers became the living promise of the possibility of actually achieving the American dream, because they were educated, well-dressed  and well-fed. However, if this generation is outstanding, is because they actually questioned the so-called dream, became politized and rebelled  against a conservative society that wanted to live inside a soap commercial from the 50’s.

The part rock played is important because it gave youth the possibility to empower itself. Rock gave youth a voice and a way of expressing, that not only had to do with the music, but also with all the emotions and thoughts that were on the collective youth mind.

“Rock was about the control one gained by taking the risk of losing control, the identity one had by refusing identities.” (p. 180)

Now, what does authenticity has to do with youth and its music? Well according to Grossberg, the idea of authenticity was a strategy by which youth culture could rearticulate the lived contradiction between optimism and cynicism. Rock was the way to scape from everyday boredom and it was also 100% created by them. Rock was not a product of some corporation (at least not in those years), it said exactly what youth wanted to say, and it was scandalous, which made it authentic. However, once rock became popular and accepted, it was turned into a matter of consumerism and marketing strategies. It lost its core ideology and therefore, its authenticity.

How does this relate to postmodernity? For what I have understood, when rock was born, there was a boredom feeling in the air but at the same time, people believed they could change things. The greatest social movements of the 20th century were held by young people in the 60’s.  But after that, with the Vietnam war, the end of the hippie era, the cold war, the attempts to reasign roles in society, etc. people began to feel truly pesimistic, almost as if they were too lazy to believe in new ideologies. Nothing was certain anymore, everything was relative and there was nothing people could do to scape this situation. Rock music could no longer make a commitment to any ideas because they were no longer plausible. People just wouldn’t believe anymore. Rock evolved into punk, ska, an other genres with their own problems to deal with.

On page 228, Grossberg talks about how is better feeling something than feeling nothing. This automatically drove me to the concept of kitsch,  which not only refers to cheap, marketable cultural forms, but also to melodrama and how in soap operas for example, romanticism was taken to extreme levels so people would still be able to feel touched by the suffering of the main character. (Felluga, Dino. “Terms Used by Postmodernists.” reviewed in

After reading this, I don’t think society has changed that much. Grossberg wrote the book in 1992 and seventeen years later, we still keep looking for solutions that not only create new problems but also fail to answer the old ones (p. 213). Perhaps with the sight of a horrorific (and close) future, some people (and only in specific countries) haven´t stopped trying to change the world into a better place, however, as a young adult, I do share those feelings of uncertainty that are everywhere, I’m terrified of not finding a job that provides me the money to live the way I’m expected to and I definitely stopped believing in any kind of economic system years ago.

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