Friday, 1 May 2009

Skinheads, fashion, gay men, Twitter and reappropration

Just got up and haven't had a cup of tea yet. I'm getting my excuses in early about the confused nature of today's post.

One of the tweeps I'm following looks to be doing some interesting research on skinhead subculture. It made me think back to my teen years (late 70s/early 80s - 2nd generation skinheads) and my fear of them back then. Also of Shane Meadows' This is England (what a great film!) and its take on skinhead subculture (one DM in a benign w/c subculture into black music; another DM in belligerent far right politics).

It also got me thinking about a scene in a Jake Arnott novel (was it The Long Firm?) where a first generation skinhead character, who's just got out of prison after a long sentence, thinks another skinhead on the tube is trying to pick a fight with him. It turns out to be a gay skin checking him out and after a different kind of physical interaction.

The problem for our ex-con is that the signs of male 'hardness' (Levis, Ben Sherman shirts, DMs, bomber jacket etc.) have been reappropriated by another subculture. Signs and symbols are in perpetual motion and 10-15 years behind bars have left Arnott's old skinhead unable to read their meanings with any degree of accuracy.

Anyway, this long digression to say I think that's sort of what happens with technology. A technology like Twitter, first envisaged as a notification service ("What are you doing?"), a lightweight Facebook status update-type tool (thoough with all the clutter removed, gets reappropriated, reinterpreted, remade in diverse ways by different groups: for marketing, broadcasting, professional development, learning, constructing new discursive spaces etc..

That's all for now ... enjoy Prince Buster:


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