Archivo de la etiqueta: ideology

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 http://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/theory/postmodernism/terms/)

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.

postmodern situation

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Archivado bajo Culture, postmodernism, Rock

We gotta get out of this place!

In the second chapter of  “We gotta get out of this place”, Lawrence Grossberg talks about articulation (articulation of popular culture and rock, more specifically) which is the process that brings elements from different backgrounds together, so they can create a new one, with its own context and characteristics.

“A cultural formation is articulated into and functions within different contexts of daily life. Such articulations create a series of alliances, each representing a particular selective appropriation of the formation itself.” (p. 71)

Perfect housewifeSo the way culture is articulated is always connected with the effects such culture has on its members and components. For example, the domestic relationships are closely related to the mode of production they were created in. A capitalist society derived in consumerist practices, perfect housewives and a happy family kind of thing. The more specialized work is, the more specialized domestic architecture is. Domestic life is an articulation of the work place, so these two elements affect each other inevitably and constantly. 

Now, what makes popular culture popular? To answer to this question, the author uses the concept of intelligentsia, that is described as the dominated fraction of the dominant class. Popular culture is not restricted to one class, it exists within a complex series of terms and oppositions which are linked together in different ways. It is clear that popular culture is out there, but it’s not the same for everybody, and that depends on the background of each individual. 

different-versions-of-the-mona-lisaGrossberg talks about texts (as cultural practices or symbolical forms) and how they can move in and out of popular culture, and even more important, how they can exist simultaneously in different categories: high and popular culture. For example, the Monalisa is one of the most famous paintings on this planet, and has been used as an image for t-shirts, cheese brands, coffee shops and so on. So Monalisa is both part of the high culture and at the same time I can wear it everyday to school. This situation has outraged a lot of people, like intellectuals, art critics, upper class and so on, causing the acceptable and non acceptable popular culture.  According to these guys, only a complex piece of work can be considered good, and hence, high culture. On the other hand, a member of the lower class would question why should he or she considered ______________ (Name your classic artist here) as art, when he or she can’t understand what the artist was trying to express. We celebrate texts with our own cultural taste.

According to the author, popular culture is closely related to emotions. It becomes a big deal because it means something to someone, and that evaluation comes straight from the “heart”.

“But the affective investment in certain sites demands a very specific ideological response, for affect can never define, by itself, why things should matter.” (p. 86)

This is the reason why none of us are free from ideology, and the more powerful the affect is, the more powerfully must be ideological legitimated.

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Archivado bajo Culture, Popular culture