I am permanently envious of Paul Morley. He makes a living writing at length about pop culture, having witnessed large chunks of it first hand. He can seem pretentious at times but I quite like that. If I got paid to talk about New Order endlessly I’d indulge myself occasionally too.
Anyway, I loved his article on the Rolling Stones playing Glastonbury, especially this section:
‘Spoilt by all the immediate access to abundant pop culture, to a near infinity of packaged sensation, the current generation, unlike the boomers, have no need to strain forward and chase new forms of freedom that react against previous stultifying values. They are trapped inside a world of their parents’ making but, unlike the stale, broken world the boomers inherited, this one supplies them with purpose-built, easily accessed pleasure and escape. It numbs any appetite to develop new ways of opposing the system, of inventing a disobedient internet-era counterculture that would make the old counterculture look as quaint and wasted as it actually is.’
via The Rolling Stones will reign supreme until there is a new counterculture | Paul Morley | Comment is free | The Observer.
The point about the youth cultures celebrated here is that they were always forward, not backward looking. The music was always the latest thing – new sources, new technology. We have, however, become retro-obsessed – another hero of mine, Simon Reynolds, has written a book about it.
Everything today is available everywhere. There is no secret club or code of entry. You can hide behind an avatar and be who you want. Seeking out, discovering, joining is done at the click of a mouse.
More democratic perhaps, but the best subcultures are always elitist. Otherwise they wouldn’t be subcultures.
This blog is about pop cultures of the past, so is therefore in theory part of Morley’s problem.
However, as he says later, future subcultures may well not revolve around rock music as they have in the past. In which case, I defend myself as a preserver of a short period of history rather than a reactionary Luddite holding back youthful progress!