Monday, 3 February 2014

Exam Q: Analyse the impact of media representation on the collective identity of British youth in the 1960s.

Collective identity is the shared sense of belonging to a group. This allows individuals to have a sense of identity and to be a part of something. In particular youths are known for wanting to discover themselves and place themselves safely in a group as a way of fitting in. There are many different sub cultures that have varied over the years.

Teenagers are often misplaced in society, Dick Hebdige states “Subcultures try to compensate for the failure of the larger culture to provide adequate status, acceptance and identity. In the youth subculture, youth find their age-related needs met.” which suggests that for teenagers to have their own identity then they have to group up together to create one themselves. This allows them have a place in society. It is thought that media representation of the collective identity of British youth influences teenagers to behave in a certain way. For example sub cultures shown in violent light may encourage actual youth to become violent.

British youth in the 1960s had several sub cultures, for example Mods or Rockers. There are two main representations of British youth in the 1960s, either violent or fun. Quadrophenia is a film that came out 20 years after the 1960s that has a mainly negative representation of British youth. The whole film is based around violence, drugs and sex. The divide between British sub cultures creates conflict and riots break out between the Mods and Rockers. Newspapers also wrote about the riots and British youth were once again portrayed in a negative light. Headlines included "Wild Ones Invade Seaside - 97 Arrests", "Wildest Ones Yet" and "Charge of the Mods at Margate"

Still to this day teenagers are represented in in a negative way. One of the main British youth subcultures that are picked out in the media is 'Chavs' which are often dipicted as a group of individuals that cause trouble. They were associated with the 2011 riots showing that the British youth is violent and a threat. However we cannot be sure of cause and effect, do British youth act in a negative way because of how they are represented and feel they need to act in that way?

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

1960s Youth Identity - A Different Representation

Let's go back in time to 1961, just 3 years before the media in Britain represented its youth as being violence driven hooligans who were a threat to the very fabric of society.

1961 saw the release of the film 'The Young Ones' starring, amongst others, Cliff Richard.

The story is about the youth club member and aspiring singer Nicky (Cliff Richard)  and his friends, who try to save their club in western London from the unscrupulous millionaire property developer Hamilton Black, who plans to tear it down to make room for a large office block. 

The members decide to put on a show to raise the money needed to buy a lease renewal. The twist in the story is that Nicky in reality is Hamilton Black's son, something he keeps keeps secret from his friends until some of them try to kidnap Black senior to prevent him from stopping the show. 

Although he is fighting his father over the future of the youth club, Nicky can't allow them to harm him, so he attacks the attackers and frees his father. In the meantime, Black senior has realised that his son is the mystery singer that all of London is talking about, after the youth club members have done some pirate broadcasts to promote their show. 

So, although he's just bought the theatre where the show is to take place, in order to be able to stop it, the proud father decides that the show must go one. At the end, he joins the youth club members on stage, dancing and singing, after having promised to build them a new youth club.


Here is the trailer for the film - how is the representation of British Youth different here to what you have previously seen? 


Thursday, 23 January 2014


Set in London in 1964, this movie was partly responsible for an upsurge in parka-wearing in the early 1980s and the appearance of mod revival bands such as Secret Affair and the Purple Hearts on Top of the Pops.

It focuses on troubled teenager Jimmy, played by an amphetamine-fuelled Phil Daniels. Jimmy is a mod. He escapes from his boring job as a postroom boy at an advertising agency by submerging himself in his chosen subculture of scooters, The Who, pills and hatred of rockers.
He's essentially a loner, but loves being part of the gang, though he often finds himself strangely at odds with it.
The film builds nicely to its set piece: a bank holiday weekend trip to Brighton, where the mods clash with their leather-clad rocker enemies.
Aside from the chance to see Lesley Ash before her lip implants and Toyah Willcox before she was a celebrity who wanted to "get out of here", Quadrophenia makes a few pertinent points about youth and youth culture that are still relevant. 
Some teenagers will always attach themselves to subcultures and experiment with sex, drugs, alcohol and violence - and eventually they will settle into a more conventional routine. Watching it again, however, I couldn't help thinking today's youth have to be more sophisticated than their 1960s counterparts, surrounded as they are by myriad cultural influences in their daily lives and the media. Life isn't so black and white these days.
For Jimmy, the mod scene turns to disillusionment and can't sustain the excitement he found in Brighton. He returns to the seaside resort, steals the silver scooter of Brighton's Ace face (Sting) - who, to Jimmy's disgust, turns out to be a bellboy at a hotel - before driving it off Beachy Head.

 You can watch the whole film via Youtube.

Media Creation of Moral Panic - Art and Popular Culture

The following article is taken from

BBC News stories from May 1964 stated that mods and rockers were jailed after riots in seaside resort towns on the south coast of England, such as MargateBrightonBournemouth andClacton. The mods and rockers conflict led sociologist Stanley Cohen to coin the term moral panicin his study Folk Devils and Moral Panics, which examined media coverage of the mod and rocker riots in the 1960s. Although Cohen admits that mods and rockers had some fights in the mid-1960s, he argues that they were no different to the evening brawls that occurred between youths throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, both at seaside resorts and after football games. He claims that the UK media turned the mod subculture into a negative symbol of delinquent and deviant status. 

Fights occurred where territories overlapped or rival factions happened upon each other. As noted above, there was an urban/rural split, meaning that the groups could only fight if brought together for some reason - most often the seaside during summer. The film Quadrophenia, on the other hand, depicts some violence within London. Mods sometimes sewed fish hooks into the backs of their lapels to shred the fingers of assailants. Weapons were often in evidence; coshes and flick knives being favoured. The conflict came to a head at Clacton during the Easter weekend of 1964. 
Round two took place on the south coast of England, where Londoners head for seaside resorts on Bank Holidays. Over the Whitsun weekend (May 18 and 19, 1964), thousands of mods descended upon MargateBroadstairs and Brighton to find that an inordinately large number of rockers had made the same holiday plans. Within a short time, marauding gangs of mods and rockers were openly fighting, often using pieces of deckchairs. The worst violence was at Brighton, where fights lasted two days and moved along the coast to Hastings and back; hence the Second Battle of Hastings tag. A small number of rockers were isolated on Brighton beach where they – despite being protected by police – were overwhelmed and assaulted by mods. Eventually calm was restored and a judge levied heavy fines, describing those arrested asSawdust Caesars. 

Newspapers described the mod and rocker clashes as being of "disastrous proportions", and labelled mods and rockers as "sawdust Caesars", "vermin" and "louts". Newspaper editorials fanned the flames of hysteria, such as a Birmingham Post editorial in May 1964, which warned that mods and rockers were "internal enemies" in the UK who would "bring about disintegration of a nation's character". The magazine Police Review argued that the mods and rockers' purported lack of respect for law and order could cause violence to "surge and flame like a forest fire". 

Cohen argues that as media hysteria about knife-wielding, violent mods increased, the image of a fur-collared anorak and scooter would "stimulate hostile and punitive reactions" amongst readers. As a result of this media coverage, two British Members of Parliament travelled to the seaside areas to survey the damage, and MP Harold Gurden called for a resolution for intensified measures to control hooliganism. One of the prosecutors in the trial of some of the Clacton brawlers argued that mods and rockers were youths with no serious views, who lacked respect for law and order. Cohen says the media used possibly faked interviews with supposed rockers such as "Mick the Wild One". 
As well, the media would try to get mileage from accidents that were unrelated to mod-rocker violence, such as an accidental drowning of a youth, which got the headline "Mod Dead in Sea."

Eventually, when the media ran out of real fights to report, they would publish deceptive headlines, such as using a subheading "Violence", even when the article reported that there was no violence at all. Newspaper writers also began to use "free association" to link mods and rockers with various social issues, such as teen pregnancy, contraceptives, amphetamines, and violence.

Mods vs Rockers in the 1960s : Creation of a Moral Panic

Read through and watch the text(s) below and then answer the question that follows in bold print at the end of the post...

One weekend in 1964 residents and holiday-makers in the seaside towns of Brighton, Bournemouth and Margate, were rocked by a sudden influx of young, cool gangs. They were Mods and Rockers, and the culture clash that occurred that weekend, described in the articles below in The Daily Sketch, Daily Mirror and others, has become iconic in the history of youth culture. 

Mods and Rockers were easily identifiable by their distinctive clothing styles: the Mods wore Fred Perry and Ben Sherman designer suits, covered by a Parka jacket; while the Rockers wore leather biker jackets and jeans. Mods also rode European scooters like Lambrettas and Vespas and listened to a mix of Motown, ska and bands such as The Who. 

The Rockers favoured motorbikes and listened to American rock and roll such as Eddie Cochrane and Elvis. Although the movements were short-lived, violent clashes between the two gangs were seized on by the media and used by moralists to exemplify the outrageous liberties enjoyed by Britain’s youths. 

The seafront vandalism and violence described in the newspaper article was later made into the 1979 film Quadrophenia.

The video below shows how the media in the 1960s reported the clashes between mods and rockers and considers whether or not the media coverage exaggerated the scale of events leading to a 'moral panic' in relation to the behaviour of these youth subcultures.

This is evidence of historical creation of collective identity for British youth cultures. 


The following is taken from

The seaside battles between the sartorially elegant Mods and their leather-clad rivals the Rockers fuelled much sensationalist media coverage in 1964.
As news of the fighting and arrests filtered out, these youngsters found themselves at the forefront of public outrage.
In fact, the Easter weekend shenanigans were pretty much the first mass-media scare over a drug-taking, mindless, violent youth.
The trouble caused enough outrage for Panorama to investigate the groups and work out whether this phenomenon would be become a regular feature of future bank holidays.
The results were strikingly candid; providing a snapshot of working-class youth at the point where deference to the establishment was beginning to wane.
The Mods preached a hedonistic take on life; enjoying drugs, music, clothes and violence to a lesser or greater degree and set a blueprint for many a youth tribe to follow.
You can watch part of the Panorama programme by clicking on the link below..

In what ways do the media texts referenced above create a representation of young people as being a danger to society?

vandalism and violence
- numerous arrests
- words used such as "rampage" "wild" "battle"

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

How to be a Mod

In the late 1950's, a new subculture appeared in British youth culture, mainly in London. For the first time, teenagers had money, because they didn't need to contribute to the family with their after-school jobs. They spent it on records (modern jazz, ska, reggae, R&B, soul, British bands such as The Who, The Small Faces etc.) and on clothes (Carnaby street fashion, mainly tailored but later, brands such as Fred Perry and Ben Sherman). They drove Vespa and Lambretta scooters.

Wear Fred Perry shirts, button-down shirts (merc, Ben Sherman), sta press trousers and slim-fit suits. For shoes, try desert boots, pointy shoes or groovy trainers like Adidas Samba.

If you are a female, wear short bright colored frocks and tall bright boots. Also light makeup and minimal wings on eyes a must. Make your eyes stand out with white eyeliner on the bottom of your eyes.

Refrain from buying yourself a leather jacket, unless you want to be a rocker.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Youth Subcultures

Dick Hebdige - Subculture: The Meaning Of Style (1979)

Richar "Dick" Hebdige (born 1951) is a british media theorist and sociologist most commonly associated with the study of subcultures, and is resistance against the mainstream of society.

"Members of a subculture often signal their membership through a distinctive and symbolic use of style, which includes fashions, mannerisms and music."

Task 2: Youth Culture

Youth subculture - a minority youth culture whose distinctiveness depended largely on the social class and ethnic background of its members; often characterized by its adoption of a particular music genre

The meaning, formation and behaviour of youth cultures have been the subject of research since the 1930s. In August 2011, England witnessed a number of ‘youth’ riots in several London Boroughs, Birmingham and Bristol. 

The following article was published in The Guardian newspaper in December 1999. You can find the original article online by clicking here.

'They blast the flesh off humans! Teenage hoodlums from another world on a horrendous ray-gun rampage!" So ran the promotion for the 1959 film Teenagers From Outer Space, in the days when teenagers were viewed by grown-ups as deviant, difficult and scary. 

The emergence of this thing called "youth culture" is a distinctly 20th-century phenomenon; the collision of increased standards of living, more leisure time, the explosion of post-war consumer culture and wider psychological research into adolescents all contributed to the formation of this new social category defined by age. Previously, the rite of passage between childhood and adult life had not been so clearly demarcated -this is not to say that young adults didn't have their own activities before the invention of Brylcreem and crepe soles (youth gangs were common in Victorian Britain, for example) but it hadn't before been defined or packaged as a culture. 

Once "invented", the "youth culture" provoked a variety of often contradictory responses: youth was dangerous, misunderstood, the future, a new consumer group. British post-war youth culture emerged primarily in response to the American popular culture centred on rock 'n' roll. The 1955 film Blackboard Jungle, with its soundtrack featuring Bill Haley And The Comets' Rock Around The Clock, was a defining moment, inspiring people to dance in the aisles (and some to slash seats). 

The fear was not only of hoodlums but also of the creeping Americanisation of British culture.  But the impact of imported US films and music did not lead to cultural homogenisation; instead, it inspired a series of spectacular - and distinctly British - youth subcultures from the mid-50s to the late-70s: teds (quiffs, Elvis, flick-knives, crepe soles, working-class London origins circa 1953, drug of choice: alcohol); mods (Jamaican-rudeboy/Italian-cool style, US soul, purple hearts, The Small Faces, scooters, working-class London origins circa 1963, drug of choice: amphetamines); skinheads (Jamaican ska, exaggerated white, British, working-class masculinity, contrasting starkly with middle-class hippiedom of the same period, boots, braces, shaved heads and violence, sometimes racist, late 60s origins, drug of choice: amphetamines); punk (Sex Pistols, spit, bondage, swastikas, circa 1976, drug of choice: glue and amphetamines).   

 Drug use became a feature of youth subcultures from the Mods onwards - not just any old drugs, but ones that characterised and defined the subculture in question. Mods chose speed because it made them feel smart and invincible; it also gave them the energy to keep on the move, awake at all-nighters (and through work the next day). 

Later, within rave culture, drug use - this time, ecstasy - was central to the point of being almost obligatory.   Dick Hebdige, acommentator on youth culture, argues that the multicultural nature of post-war Britain was crucial to the formation of many subcultures; each one, he says, should be seen as a response to the presence of black culture in Britain, the ska/rudeboy-inspired two tone movement being a particularly vivid example. The tribes were created through the amalgamation of particular types of cultural goods; music, fashion, hairstyles, politics, drugs, dances - with their boundaries defined through crucial choices: Vespas or Harley-Davidsons, speed or acid, Dr Martens or desert boots. But then, youth culture is full of contradiction: the desire to express individuality by wearing the same clothes as your mates, and rebelling against capitalism at the same time as being a perfect capitalist slave.   

Britain also led the way in the study of youth, and its celebration of creativity and resistance, though these studies, naturally, have their favourite subcultures, often overlooking others. (Still, the kiss of death for any subculture is to be "understood" by a sociologist.) By the late 70s and early 80s, youth subculture began to change, and became less gang-oriented. 

The regular emergence of new subcultures slowed down, and the first major period of revivals began. It became difficult to identify distinct subcultures, rather than just musical styles. In fact, something weird happened: everyone started behaving like a teenager. 

By the 90s, "proper" grown-ups had started to complain that contemporary youth were dull and conformist, and the music of small children became the preferred choice of most teenagers - Pinky & Perky dressed up as Steps.   

 Today, there are still plenty of new genres of music, but they don't have such visible subcultures affiliated to them. Even something as recent as 80s dance music and rave culture - after its initial, Smiley-faced, ecstasy-fuelled unity - fragmented into a multitude of sub-genres with no definable set of cultural attributes. 

 Despite society's consistent attempts to regulate youth culture, perhaps the main cause of its demise in recent years is the extension of adolescent behaviour until death by the Edinas and Patsys of this world. Youth culture is now just another lifestyle choice, in which age has become increasingly irrelevant.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The Media & Collective Identity

We will be focussing on the ways in which the media represent the identity of British Youth Culture.

Through the work we undertake you should be able to resopond to the following 4 prompt questions:
  • How do the contemporary media represent 'British Youth' in different ways?
  • How does contemporary representation of 'British Youth' compare to previous time periods?
  • What are the social implications of different media representations of 'British Youth'?
  • To what extent is human identity increasingly ‘mediated’?
We will explore the representation of 'British Youth' across at least 2 different elements of the media. For film this will include theories of film representation and realism in relation to the history of British cinema, a range of British films from recent years, funding, Government and industry practices, and discussion of a critically informed point of view on how Britain is represented to itself and to the wider audience at the present time.

In order to be fully prepared for the specific requirements of the question, the material studied must cover these three elements:
Historical – the development of the media forms in question in theoretical contexts.
Contemporary – examples from no more than five years before the examination. That is, in our case, from no earlier than 2009.
Future – personal engagement with debates about the future of the media forms / issues in relation to the concept of 'British Youth'.
Rules For The Exam
The majority of examples you refer to in the exam should be contemporary. However, theories and approaches may be drawn from any time period.
If you refer to only one media area in your answer, the mark scheme clearly indicates that marks will be restricted to a maximum of the top of level 1.

If you fail to provide or infer historical references and / or future projections, marks will be restricted to a maximum of the top of level 3 for use of examples only.

What's in the A2 Media Exam?

In A Nutshell The purpose of the exam is to assess your knowledge and understanding of media concepts, contexts and critical debates, through your understanding of one contemporary media issue and your ability to evaluate your own practical work in reflective and theoretical ways. 


The examination is two hours. 

You will be required to answer two compulsory questions, on your own production work, and one question from a choice of six topic areas. 

The unit is marked out of a total of 100, with the two questions on production work marked out of 25 each, and the media theory question marked out of 50. 

Section A : Theoretical Evaluation of production

Section B : Contemporary Media Issues (Media and Collective Identity)

During Term 3 we will be learning about the contemporary media issue of COLLECTIVE IDENTITY in preparation for Section B of the exam.

During Term 4 we will be preparing for Section A of the exam in which you will be evaluating your own completed production work.