Is any bit of subculture now a shamelessly touted fad? Is that all subculture has ever been? It’s a rumination worth dissecting.
Punks, hippies, goths and all of their less touted brethren under the subcultural sun seem to have their roots sprouting from a deep well of alienation. Any subculture forms within a vaster culture when enough like-minded individuals decide to differentiate themselves from everyone else by either spiking their hair or piercing their eyebrows with clothespins. Ironic, right? Like minded folks uniting against the normalcy of conformity by all adopting identical looks, musical taste and personal philosophies seems counterproductive.
Individualism preached by any group you have to wear a uniform to be a part of comes off as spurious at best.
Despite inherent issues with the structure and motivation behind joining your local hipster brigade, subcultures serve as an interesting footnote on the later pages of American history. Subcultures typically congeal around a few core beliefs or mutual interests of their members, and typically this begins the, sometimes slow and sometimes not, dissolution of any given culture’s purity and sincerity. Once a groundswell surges up under it, and a subculture starts gaining more and more followers, eventually the corporate bigwigs’ cent-sniffers catch wind of potential profit lurking within.
Here in the year 2014, which classic subculture hasn’t been messily ground up and repackaged by the corporate powers? Punk and goth have melted together and been put up for resale at any Hot Topic you walk into. Flower power has been dead for decades, yet concert promoters still insist that Coachella and its bastard offspring still carry that same spirit, allowing rich college kids to experience their own personal Woodstocks. Hip hop got plucked off the streets, wrapped up in a cheap suit and now calls any of a number of shallow, one trick millionaires its greatest contributors. Even the EDM scene has started to crumble based on oversaturation, and the fact that every other musical genre has slowly been picking away at its juiciest bits like an ungodly flock of dusty desert buzzards. Hell, even the whole country and western thing has had its balls and soul surgically removed.
I’d love to sit across from anyone and proudly state that all of these little pockets of discontent with the way things are have united as one opulent force dedicated to the direct opposition of the tyrannical prison of a world we live in. But I can’t. The only thing these cute little sects have in common is that they have each been systematically infiltrated, neutered and shanghaied by everyone from top music executives to over talked fashion gurus. It’s pretty tragic for those who take these lifestyles seriously, to have your identity (as unoriginal as it may be) carbon pressed onto thousands of others and to watch other people get rich off of it.
As we advance as a species, and as rebellion seems to end up further and further down the line as a futile and outmoded concept, will such minute acts of it become passé? Maybe doing exactly what you’re told will end up as the prime blazing law our next big emerging subculture will rest its leather boots on.
Photo Source: www.newhellfireclub.co.uk