Rave Culture as Anti-Mass culture, and Mass Media as Political Communication

-Censorship and Control Presentation

Student: Sophie Reynolds Student No.: N00064019 Lecturer: Cormac Deane

so that they ‘could dazzle their mates in the latest trendy club wear. and ‘Raves are all the Rage’. Media and Subcultural Capital. (Wesleyan University Press.’ What he omitted. however. in which the pursuit of such ‘news value’ will inevitably lead to exaggeration. p2 4 Sarah Thornton. The Sun’s endorsement of Acid House was short-lived. is that this relates not only to the drug pushers and peddlers but to the tabloids and mass media at large.com/watch?v=Rgjog28R9_0 (Accessed on: 01/11/09) Steve Redhead. ACID HOUSE HORROR (October 25). when the negative stories had lost their news value. the mass media. [BBC News clip shown which indicates the sensational media hype surrounding Acid House during the late-80s and early 90s1] 1. 21. and amplification of events.e.The Mass Media: • ‘One of the first mentions of Acid House by the Sun was in October 1st. ‘High on Life’. 1996) p135 . however. ‘Bop to Burn: Raving is the Perfect Way to Lose Weight’.3 Once again in 1991.In the following presentation I’m going to discuss how information is manipulated according to different group’s own agendas. and focusing in particular on the three major parties involved. as essentially papers such as the Sun are part of a profit-driven enterprise. and GIRL. and offered their readers a chance to purchase some of the much-coveted Acid House T-shirts. and the cultural managers of rave. Ted Hynes. (Manchester University Press. taking for example ‘Acid House’ and its relationship to mass media in Britain. (Acid House Correspondent of The Sunday People) who featured on the Youtube video was quite correct when he asserted that ‘Money is the Key. The paper took a swift turn and captained an offensive of ‘panic’ proportions indicated by headlines like: EVIL OF ECSTASY (October 19). the tabloids started publishing articles with headlines like. p2 3 Steve Redhead. 1988.youtube. • • • • 1 2 http://www. The End of the Century Party: Youth and Pop Towards 2000. i. which gleefully described the ‘Acid House’ scene as “cool and groovy”2. the mass media as an extension of the state. DROPS DEAD AT ACID DISCO (October 31).’4 This notion of ‘news value’ is of huge significance here. 1990). Club Cultures: Music.

[. The Media and Political Process.2005). the politically elite gain and hold onto power by winning elections. that resource distribution occurs in accordance with their interests and those of their supporters. (Routledge: London. 1994].com/yh4wcoq (Accessed 06/11/09) Stanley Cohen.an example of this might be the Criminal Justice Act. a role which has changed in accordance with liberal democracy. retaining it and using it to achieve social outcomes. -which saw the Sun feature a return to their celebration of the rave scene. p11 8 Louw. 5 Such shifts in the Sun’s representation of the rave scene underscore why the very ‘concept of moral panic evokes some unease.The Mass Media as extension of the State: • This employment of ‘moral panic’ at certain stages. 2002) p xxi 7 P.2. a significant amount of time and energy of politicians and their professional support-staff is now focused on impressionmanagement and media relations. might also be seen as the result of political agendas of mass media of the time.’ As Stanley Cohen remarks: ‘Why is the reaction to Phenomenon A dismissed or downgraded…while the putatively more significant Phenomenon B is ignored. Third Edition. The Sun’s downplay of drug-use quite conveniently related to the huge circuit of legal. the process involves a rule-governed competition over gaining access to power. Thus in order to persuade large numbers of potential voters. and not even made a candidate for moral signification?’6 The answer to this is perhaps more apparent if we are to look at mass media as a form of political communication.8 At the heart of liberal democracy. commercial raves which began at the time. p13 9 Louw. . p16 . and downplaying of drug-use.”7 In our current political climate of liberal democracy. while the liberalisation of licensing hours allowed for rave-style clubs with allnight dancing. politicians engage in a game of impression-management (a process often done via the mass • • • 5 6 http://tinyurl.e. i. The Media and Political Process.”9 Within liberal democracy. Eric Louw. The Media and Political Process. 1991. so too has the relationship between politicians and the media. especially about its own morality. (Sage: London. countless political processes have become substantively media-ized.came about as the rave scene emerged from the underground. For “just as the political processes of liberal democracy have mutated. “Power is sought after because power holders can ensure (through policy formulation). Introduction to the Third Edition. Folk Devils and Moral Panics.

• Hence liberal democracy requires considerable energy be expended in perception management geared towards ‘outsider’ masses. the work of impression management. plus building consent. the Sun has launched ‘Answers’ – its so-called comprehensive guide to weekend raving…What Audacity? How dare they? On approaching the Sun about their change in attitude we were informed by some clueless dimwit that the rave scene is now. liberal democracy involves interplay between12: o A political elite of (active) insiders who divide their time between politically substantive work. which is directed at a mass audience “who are frequently only marginally interested in politics and [are] often passive citizens.000 DRUGS CRAZED YOUTHS’ This was the headline carried by the Sun newspaper during the summer of 1988. It was part of an uncompromising effort to bring disrepute and destruction upon the rave scene that was growing at a rapid rate across the country…Now three years after that headline was printed. p13 Process. Louw. legitimacy. Touch. The The The The Media Media Media Media and and and and Political Political Political Political Process. even perhaps ‘moral panic’. is necessarily enmeshed within the wider political game of policy work itself.media). o And a (passive) mass of ‘outsiders’ who consume the work (or myths) of insiders or semi-insiders. policy formulation. As such. in their opinion. clean and • 10 11 12 13 Louw. a respectable.”10 Thus it can be said that the political machinery of liberal democracies consists of two functions. (e. p16 Process. a music magazine wrote: ‘10. For example. Louw. o Politically-active ‘semi-insiders’ acting as ‘stage-hands’ or as a communicative bridge between the elite and the masses. Louw.13 Clubbers and their niche press were obviously outraged when the Sun putatively turned its back on the abundant use of drugs that persisted throughout the rave scene. This dimension of politics is thus concerned with mythmaking and hype.p20 . namely a policy-making dimension and a hype dimension. and service and infrastructure delivery) and political ‘hype’ (impression management).g.p18 Process. and (when necessary) ‘distraction’.11 • Ultimately.

the negative attacks of Rave particularly by the Tory-supporting Sun. They had some of the highest unemployment ever and the jobs were getting worse so they tried to cover the headlines with whatever they could. Rave was near the end of the unemployment thing. Tory. Kevin Noone. believes. Club Cultures. might well be considered in terms of Barthes’ notion of ‘inoculation’. Anyone who has been to the major clubs recently knows that drugs are still very much a part of the club rave culture. The Sun was. jobs etc. but it does prove that the Sun knows absolutely fuck all about what’s happening on the Rave scene. youth had created a new form of income and new jobs . ‘a small share… compensates the big ones’16 i. just as they knew fuck all in 1988 and 1989..there were a lot of new working class role models and the government didn't like that.The government were losing power in the cities and so they used Rave as an excuse to enforce new laws.Rave culture itself: 14 15 16 Thornton. they couldn't handle having no control. 3. until recent years a self-admitted Tory newspaper and was one of the greatest attackers of Acid House from 1988-1989. Mythologies. they targeted Acid House and the ravers as a social scapegoat and a high profile battle they could win.org. “.. p135 http://www.htm (Accessed 06/11/09) Roland Barthes.uniting on a common front takes the pressure off them. band-wagon jumping wankers..not drugs but as Djs . who was involved in the free party scene since the 1970's and currently runs a free party website that includes information on both future and past parties all over the South Coast and the rest of the UK. (Touch December 1991)14 • Certainly we can assume there was some political agenda behind tabloid newspapers' treatment of the rave scene. no good.15 Given the political backdrop of Rave and Acid House.e. We’re not saying that this is a good thing. The truth is that the Sun is run and staffed by a bunch of hypocritical. It's like in 1985 when they used the travellers at Stonehenge as scapegoats .fantazia. in which rave.’ [Some font covers are shown which highlight the Sun’s support of the Tory party are shown] • Thatcher's Tory government was beginning to struggle and as Mo Bean suggests in her research... (Paladin Books: London.uk/Scene/press/magazines. unemployment.drug-free zone.. 1973) p 150 .

not just an outcome. “[Undergrounds] delight in parental incomprehension. The writers were fascinated by their own representation and. p117 Thornton. for example.”19 Therefore being ‘banned’ from Radio One was a desirable prospect. Being banned was consequently the most reliable way to gain what is in theory a contradiction in terms. p129 . p121 Thornton. Club Cultures. It acted as expert testimony to the music’s revolt to national sensibilities and as circumstantial evidence of its transgression. More than anything else. Club Cultures. lifestyle into social upheaval. undergrounds define themselves against the mass media. Mass media misunderstanding is therefore often an objective. the very badge of their rebellion. however much they condemned the tabloids. In Britain.We Call It Acieeed) The negative tabloid coverage of acid house. salesdependent tabloids (particularly the Tory-supporting Sun).” 18 Youth resent approving mass mediation of their culture but relish the attention conferred by media condemnation. state-sponsored BBC (particularly pop music Radio One) and the sensational. then. was subject to extensive analysis by the music and style magazines. they revelled in the attention and boasted about sensational excess.( D-Mob* Featuring Gary Haisman . the best guarantee of radicalism is rejection by one or both of the disparate institutions seen to represent the cultural status quo: the tempered. but in practice a relatively common occurrence – namely an underground smash hit. Their main antagonist is not the law which might suppress but the media who continually threaten to release their knowledge to others. “As a • • • • 17 18 19 Thornton. it is set on being culturally radical. of youth’s cultural pursuits. • As such rave culture’s ‘subcultural capital’ is defined against the supposedly obscene accessibility of mass culture (cf. and leisure into revolt? “‘Moral panics’ can be seen as a culmination and fulfilment of youth cultural agendas in so far as negative newspaper and broadcast news coverage baptize transgression. Whether the underground espouses an overt politics or not. the BBC ban.Rave culture is an anti-mass culture. negative newspaper coverage and that best blessing in disguise. Baudrillard 1982)17. and also an ‘underground’ culture. Club Cultures. How else might one turn difference into defiance.

1996) 20 Thornton. Folk Devils and Moral Panics. Barthes. Cohen. ‘moral panic’ has become a routine way of marketing popular music to youth. Louw.2005).result. Third Edition. Steve. Mythologies. 1990) 5. (Routledge: London. Sarah. “20 Bibliography: 1. p120 . 4. Media and Subcultural Capital. Club Cultures: Music. 1973 2. Thornton. (Manchester University Press. The End of the Century Party: Youth and Pop Towards 2000. (Sage: London. Eric. Stanley. P. (Paladin Books: London. Club Cultures. (Wesleyan University Press. The Media and Political Process. Roland. 2002) 3. Redhead.

http://tinyurl.Websites Visited: 1. http://www.org.com/yh4wcoq 3.youtube.uk/Scene/press/magazines. http://www.com/watch?v=Rgjog28R9_0 .fantazia.htm 2.

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