Commercial Recuperation Essay

2780 words - 11 pages

Commercial Recuperation

Essentially what Hebdige is saying with his statement is that
eventually a subcultures generic trademarks will cross over into the
mainstream. This will in tern render the original intentions of
subversion diluted pastiches of there former representations.

The validity of this statement is interesting in two ways. Firstly are
subcultures subversive qualities diluted through popularisation? And
secondly and perhaps more importantly in terms of more contemporary
subcultural representations; how valid is the statement that what
might be considered subcultures are actually subversive in terms of
attempted displacement of a dominant ideology.

It is these two areas with particular reference to the Punk movement
of the nineteen seventies which I intend to discuss within this
Essay/Exam. Looking at the work of Hebdige himself and other writers
and theorists in comparison, and also contrasting areas.

Punk is perhaps the most obvious musical form which has been linked to
subculture. Even Hebdige himself is of the opinion that music and
subcultures are part of the same “expressive circle” (Quoted in
Middleton, 1990:165). It is for many the archetypal musical subculture
as Jeff Pike writes with reference to The Sex Pistols in ‘the death of
rock and roll’ “the fury was undeniable, and so was the vision”
(1993:268).

The punk movement was spawned in and around 1976. It was a reaction
initially against the what many saw as the grandiose ageing hippies
who then dominated the charts under the banner of ‘progressive rock’
Which highlights a point made by Ted Polhemus that one of the key
aspects of musical subcultures was to subvert the one which had
appeared directly before it (1994). This was of course one of the
major factors in the burgeoning Punk scene; what Polhemus calls “the
suppression of a new generation by an older generation (especially one
that had made such a song and dance about youth” (1993:90). But more
than this was the relevant timing of the punk movement and
subsequently, why it is so important as an example within this
discussion. The high unemployment rates and the economic uncertainly
present throughout Britain where largely to blame. As was the
realisation that the promised age of prosperity and utopia promised by
the passing generation was never going to come to the present one. As
Polhemus puts it “had Mclaren and Westwood not been around to toss a
few sticks of dynamite in the right direction an eruption would have
occurred anyway” (1993:90). Punk saw itself as being in direct
conflict with the established order it felt had betrayed a generation
as John Fisk highlights the main function of conflict sub cultural
groups in his article ‘The Popular Economy’

“The power domain in within which popular culture works is largely,
but not...

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