Thursday, May 15, 2008

Moral Panic?

The Mexican/Latin American culture that is present in today’s society evolved for the zoot suit culture of the 1940s. The jazz music and the baggy clothing were the trade marks of the zoot suitors. The zoot suits culture was viewed as deviant. They attracted a lot of negative attention and discrimination because of their radical style.

While I was reading about the zoot suit riots I wondered if this event would fall under “moral panic.” It seemed to be similar to those events of moral panic that we studied in English 313. There was a “panic” over a deviant culture, because of the threat that people believed that it possessed. The zoot suit was a new trend that created concern among the population. This concern was extremely exaggerated by the people who didn’t understand the culture.

Yet there are many distinctions from this event and the events that we read about in class, which leads me to believe that maybe the zoot suit riots were not what Sprighall considered “moral panic.” The sailors, which were the rivals of the zoot suitors during the riots, said that they were attacking the dress and the “dangers” that it represented, yet the common thought was that the attacks were of racism. In the moral panics that I’ve read about the attack is on the representation, not on those who are “exposed” to it. Comic books movies and video games are censored to take the power away from the materials; the youth are not targeted as was the case with the zoot suit riots.

I believe that because the relationships in the zoot suit riots are different from the other events, it separate the zoot suit culture from other moral panics. In situations of moral panic that I have encountered the youth is being exposed to something that could be potentially dangerous to them and society, which causes the parents have an exaggerated reaction to the potential harm. In this case the sailors and a lot of the society saw the zoot suitors as the potential harm because of their deviant ways. The harm was not to their youth, but to society and that’s what initiated the panic. This event was definitely a panic over the loss in morals in society but I don’t believe that it falls under the category of “moral panic.”

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Incorporation vs. Excorporation (East vs. West)

I have not made as many blog posts here as I should have, but one of the things I did want to draw a comparison on was how different musical subcultures view incorporation. Mainly, the differences between Western and Eastern musical subcultures.

(See: Incorporation)

The United States has been a capitalist society for a long time. Music subcultures like punks, emos, grungers, ravers, new wavers, mods, goths, skankers, and rockers are all based on quintessentially "sticking it to the man". All of their fashions are based on excorporation. They take what's available in society and make it their own. When it comes to mainstream pop and rock in this country much of it is incorporating. Everyone should have a t-shirt of their favorite band, posters, albums, novelty items, etc. The excorporators might even take some of these items and make them their own. Especially if they are vintage. Newcomers to America often have a need to fulfill their American Dream, and incorporate their families. It's the second generation that often has a need to make their own way and cut their own paths through life.

The Westernization (Americanization) of Japan however has created a similar effect in that they also strive for the American Dream. Capitalism has been ingrained into their society. But they also keep the Japanese ideals of conformity. Every Japanese person should act and look the same as the next. When it comes to those who decide they don't want to conform to the general Japanese ideals, they still conform within their own subcultures. It's completely acceptable for goths, punks, and rockers in Japan to shop for expensive clothing and all wear clothes from the same line. And they all buy the merchandise their band sells. Public Domain laws are also different in Japan, so the fans also create and buy unofficial merchandise from each other.

S.K.I.N. Piano Duet + Violin + Shamisen (Traditional Japanese Instrument)

An example of a rock subculture in Japan is Visual Kei. The whole point of this subculture is to have the right look and have a great performance. No need to create an amazing sound as long as the performance is good. And if you've ever been to a Japanese concert, its very likely you'll see many people in the standing room doing just that. Standing. Still. Though more recently I've seen more screaming girls at the front than usual. I did get the chance to see the new band S.K.I.N. last summer and I've got to say that the band loved the reactions they were getting from the crowd. The lead singer really milked us for as many callbacks as he could.

When it comes to pop performances in Japan, the audience might participate in Para Para, a form of synchronized dancing that mostly consists of arm movements. Every fan memorizes the movements so that they can participate during the performance. It's similar to memorizing the dance moves from your favorite music video.

The westernization of Japan has lead them to believe heavily in capitalism and incorporation. Obviously the only ones really pushing these things are the business interactions between our two countries. There needs to be more human interaction rather than just mainstream media being passed between us.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Salsa in Canada!!

I went to the library in Santa Monica the other day, and I was going through their DVD's and I came accross this one called "Latin Beats." So, I decided to pick it up and check it out. When I started watching it, I was really suprised. It was a documentary shot in Canada, I had no idea Canadians love this type of music, as the documentary went along I realized that many South Americans (Columbians, Chileans, Bolivians) migrated to Canada in the 70's. And that's when it all began, the Latinos brought the spice to the Canadians. Ramiro Huerta was one of the first people that began the Latin music movement 1988. My idea of Latin music in other countries other than Latin America was wrong, I see now that it has reached different heights through out the years.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


This post was inspired by my recent trip to the Coachella Music and Arts Festival. This music festival is infested with hipsters. If you aren't sure what classifies a person as a hipster, the video above will explain. I first saw this video a year ago. One of the things that makes it so funny to me, is that it is incredibly true. For example, the play-by-play analyst mentioned that a hipster would never admit to being a hipster (let alone participate in an event). The whole idea behind being a hipster is to have an "I don't care" attitude. Hipsters are passionate about very little and it's rare to catch them smiling.

Why this attitude? It's very similar to the hippies back in the 1960s. Of course their values and purposes were very different, but the crowd isn't. Both hippies and hipsters are made up of predominately upper middle class, young suburbanites. They are also, for the most part, college educated (most hippies dropped out of college, but still had experienced some college). Both of these counter cultures sprung from kids who are very well off. These suburban kids decided to abandon their upbringing for a less attractive lifestyle (hippies abandoned their parents' money/college, and hipsters abandoned caring).

This possibly happened for the same reason why rap music is mostly purchased by white, suburban teenage males, even though its target audience is the urban, African
teenage male. These kids seek to live a different life. Maybe a life that is a little risky, but not too risky.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Does music define “who you are” or does “who you are” define the type of music you listen to?

One of the main objectives of our blog was to discuss what it is that attracts a person to listen to the music that they do. I believe that it is part of one identity, the music that they feel expresses who they are. When your music plays and you get chills, you feel can feel it inside you. Sometimes it causes you to let out your emotions, by yelling or singing along and other time you just consume the emotion of the singer. I don’t believe that music has a huge affect on who you are or your attitude. I believe that who you are and how you feel attracts one to listen to the music that they listen to. Which is why sometimes one is in the mood to listen to different things.

Good Lyrics Lost In Bad Music

I wanted to go over a music genre that I think wouldn’t have been covered otherwise. Country, good lyrics that get lost in bad music. Not to say that all country is bad, I do like some songs. I thought that it was important to add this type of music because it is one of the few genres that still talks about real issues. A lot of Latino music is about love, rap mostly deals with drugs and pimps and I’m not really sure what rock and punk talk about (I can’t make out the lyrics). Although some of these songs do address political and current issues, my personal opinion is that it is found more in country music. Like the Dixie chicks, I’m not ready to make nice. I believe that a lot of popular music doesn’t deal with real issues because we don’t want to have to think about what is going on in our society, in this world. We listen to music to escape, we watch movies to escape, and we read to escape. There are many problems in our society and in our world, but its just easier to ignore and not think about them.

Chicano Legend Santana!!

I couldn’t write about Chicano music with out mentioning Carlos Santana. He is one of the best guitarists ever! A true role model for all Chicanos and musicians alike. It makes no difference that he is Mexican, he attracts audiences of all kind. Santana has collaborated with many different types of artists to compose amazing songs. He shows that music has no boundaries; no matter what subdivision of the American culture you belong to I’m sure that you can appreciate that talent that Santana possesses. Some of my favorite songs that he has done are, Maria Maria and Into The Night, with Chad Kroeger, which is one of the best songs that I have ever hear. Carlos Santana shows that race doesn’t matter when it comes to music. His music, I believe can be appreciated by any culture.

This is definitely worth looking into. If there is anyone who doesn’t like Santana’s music I’d really like to know. Here’s a Link..

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


This new Puerto Rican Group called NG2 is taking the Latin Tropical Airplay by storm. Tropical music falls in the same genre of Salsa. This new group has been able to attain a spot in the top 10 of the Latin Billboards. These young guys seem to have that 'sizzle' that we have been craving for. They are known as the "sons of the grand combo" because one of them, Gerardo Rivas is the son of the famous Jerry Rivas another Salsa singer. So, not only is his father a huge artist in this genre but he carries the gene that has made him so successful. These two guys are young and full of energy, which is exactly what is needed in this style of music. All of Latin America is in love with them and also people here in the US, that love good Salsa music.

This video that is posted is from NG2 performing in Miami in huge festival that is held every year called, "La Calle 8" (8th st).

NG2 Ella menea ( She moves)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

That Is So Emo!

There are many different definitions and descriptions for the word "emo"; usually referring to the word as a subculture or music genre. Here are some descriptions I have heard over the years:

1. Punk music on estrogen.

2. Angsty teens.

3. 16-year-olds who don't smile.

4. Melodramatic white kids.

5. Male singers in their twenties whose balls haven't dropped yet, causing them to have ridiculously high pitched voices. Or, if their testicles have in fact dropped, their pants are so tight that they cut off the circulation in the singer's testicular area, therefore raising his voice.

Over the recent years, "emo" has become a negative term. Why? What did emo ever do to you?

Here is the real problem with "emo". Nobody actually knows what it really means! There has never been a set definition for the term. It has been used to describe a genre of music, people with hair that covers half their faces, suicidal teens, and more. In 2008, however, it is mostly used as an insult accusing people of being over emotional (because god forbid a person actually feels something). Before I go into the analysis aspects of the term, let me give a brief description of the history.

The term "emo" was originally used in the 1980s to describe the hardcore punk scene in Washington D.C. (and that music does not sound like the stereotypical emo song does today). The uprising violence of the hardcore scene in the area cause some of the hardcore band leaders to experiment with a new sound (this being the starts of emo). The term has been used in many different ways since the 80s; now it is mostly used in fashion and in describing those who are shy, depressed, angsty, and suicidal.

Now for the analysis:

This country's obsession with emo is spread by things like this:


Obviously this is ridiculous. And there have been several news reports like this on television. I went to school with so-called "emo kids" and they turned out just fine. Here's another shocking revelation: an older brother of a student at my high school committed suicide a few years ago and he was an athlete!!! I know it's shocking, but it's true.

The bottom line is, being a teenager is hard, no matter what stereotype you fit in to. Adults see a "phenomenon" such as emo and overreact. "BUT WE MUST NOT REACT WITH FEAR!" Haha. Sorry. Anyways, they see this group as an "other" and react badly to what they do not understand. As a culture, we tend to reject what doesn't fit into our mold. If there is an uprising of something that is "outside the box" the mainstream culture feels threatened by the differences (hence the term sub or counter-culture). When this threat hits, the mainstream tends to focus on the extremes. For example, that news report focused on self-harm and self-mutilation. I am not denying that there are suicidal teens in the United States; but they aren't just part of this "emo culture". Here is another example of focusing on extremes: a man stood outside my work one day protesting the legal marriage of homosexuals. As my homosexual manager helped escourt him off the premise he asked the man why it mattered to him. The man's response went something like this, "First comes same sex, then comes bestiality." It is this extreme nature of our society that gives things like homosexuality, emo, and Britney a bad reputation.

Well, maybe not Britney.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

"The Anthem"

Pit bull’s “The Anthem” is an excellent example of an American twist on traditional Spanish music. As he states at the beginning, everyone knows this song, “your mother, your father, your abuelo, your abuela.” He took some of the origianl lyrics, like “Mami que sera lo que quiere el negro” and “Mami el negro esta rabioso,” and put a new spin on them. Some may think that the remix is poorly done but others like it because it reminds them of all the family parties (bodas and quinceaneras) where they would always hear this song. Chicanos and Latinos are extremely patriotic to their native countries but often when they visit their countries they don’t feel as if they belong. It is understandable that they would mix their old culture into their lives here in the U.S. There is a struggle for Chicanos and Latinos to find a place of their own and this has created a new culture. A mix of their parents traditions and there lies here in the United States. Everyone wants to belong to a group, to have an identity of their own, this desire has inspired this music style.

Here is the link if you would like to listen to the song

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Chicano/Latino Music

Mexicans Americans have always struggled with their identity. We call ourselves Mexican because our parents were born in Mexico, but when we go to Mexico the people there don’t see us as Mexican. We call ourselves American because we were born here but this society categorizes us as Mexican because of our skin color and language. So a new culture was crated, “Chicanos.” Along with this culture came a new lifestyle and a new form of music. Hip-Hop, Reggeton, and Chicano Rap are some examples of Mexican American and Latino Music.

What draws Mexicans and Latinos to this music is the rhythm of traditional Spanish music and the mixing of the Spanish and English language. The music incorporates both sides of our identity and gives us something that belongs to us. With all the uncertainties of who we are the feeling of having something of our own is very important. “Spainglish” is the term that is used to describe going back and forth from Spanish to English. It is used a lot in Reggeton, hip-hop and Chicano Rap. Latino 96.3 is my favorite radio station that plays Chicano music. In future posts I will go into detail about different artists and their music. Artists Like Wisin y Yandel, Daddy Yankee and Tony Dize.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Touhou (東方) Music

Touhou was started as as a one-man project, known as the Touhou Project, by a man calling himself ZUN. He created the first series of shooting games in the late nineties and amassed a large fan base.

The games are all set in the same fantasy realm and instead of the traditional ships found in Galaga or Gradius, the controllable character is a shrine maiden. She is perpetually fighting to save her kingdom of Gensokyo. ZUN did start it all himself, which includes the music. He is now working with a small group, called Team Shanghai Alice, to create new games, but there are over 100 different groups creating fan music now. The fans' music crosses all genres from the original electronic to metal and folk. There are now 10 games and a huge array of characters for fans to base their albums on. This video gives example of game play and fan music (video not created by me).

The fans sell their music online or at conventions such as Comic Market (aka: Comiket). Though for the past 3 years there has been an annual convention just for Touhou called Hakurei Shrine Reitaisai (博麗神社例大祭). Other fans create Doujin (comics) to sell or help keep online databases with profiles of all the characters and their appearances in the games. At the conventions it is common to see people dressed as their favorite characters from the game, both men and women, even though almost all the characters are female.


When you think of Salsa, what are the first things that come to mind? Food, music, Latino culture? Well, many people that are not familiar with the term, think of the food item that is served on the side of tortilla chips. In this case, we will be talking about the Music, lifestyle, and culture of Salsa.

Salsa goes back many, many years, with its origins beginning in Cuba and sprawling throughout Latin America to North America, more specifically Spanish Harlem. Spanish Harlem is the place where the Puerto Ricans and Cubans resided. The word 'Salsa' began in the 1960's and was a specific style, but there are many styles of Salsa. A couple of styles are, 'Tropical' Salsa and 'Romantic' Salsa. Tropical Salsa is fast paced while the latter is slower. It was in the 70's when a Puerto Rican New Yorker gave the word 'Salsa' a new meaning. He developed a magazine called 'Latin NY' where he used the word 'Salsa' several times in his magazine. Everyone knew he was talking about the tasteful and energetic music that is Salsa.
There was also a Venezuelan DJ, Danilo Escalona who had a radio show in the late 60's which was called, "the hour of flavour, sauce, and soul. The word 'Salsa' had arrived as a convenient cover for a whole raft of contemporary Afro-Cuban and similar music, Particularly in the Americanised style." ( Some of the legends of Salsa are Celia Cruz, who is known as the "Queen of Salsa,"Tito Puente, Marc Anthony, Gloria Estefan, Joe Arroyo, and Oscar De Leon to name a few.

So what attracts people to this style of music? Not only is it Latinos that listen to Salsa but there are so many people of many other cultures that listen and dance to it. There are also people that take classes to learn how to dance this type of music. I recall my own experiences in taking Salsa classes and out of the whole class there was only about five of us that were Latino... and the rest were Asian-American and Caucasian backgrounds. It seemed as though this wave of Salsa was coming through and still is. When I hear Salsa it makes me just want to get up and dance to it. It brings me joy and a sense of fulfillment. It also provides a great cardio work out.

I grew up listening to Spanish music. It is one of those things that is implemented into one's life in your infancy and stays in your roots.

Check out these links for more on Salsa:



You tube video of Marc Anthony in the Movie "El Cantante," where he portrays another Salsa Legend Hector Lavoe:

Friday, April 11, 2008


The term "sellout" seems to be used more and more often these days, especially in the rock and punk communities. But what some music fans don't seem to understand is the difference between maturing as musicians and compromising your values/beliefs for money. Usually artists are scrutinized for signing to a major label or releasing something that sounds little different. Let’s take the punk band Against Me!, for example ( They released several albums on an independent record label before signing to Sire recently. When they released their major label debut, critics praised it; some even claimed it the best album of the year. However, fans of Against Me! disagreed. They called them sellouts and went from being number one fans to number one enemies. In an interview, the band said that they were under the influence of so many substances during their earlier work that they couldn’t come up with enough material for an album (which is why all of their songs are so short). One would think that their “hardcore” fans would be happy that their favorite band made it to the big time.

So why was the underground punk community shaken by the direction this band took? Why did they refuse to listen to Against Me!’s music even though it had strongly improved? Here is why: it is now a threat. These fans went from seeing an easily approachable band in basements with people just like them, to seeing this band as an opener for the Foo Fighters in large venues. This can be a shock to the leftover fans that were willing to journey into this uncharted territory. Although both of these bands can be classified under the very general term “rock,” they attract very different crowds. The more mainstream an act gets (the more KROQ plays their music), the younger their crowd gets. The younger a crowd gets, the more teeny boppers and soccer moms Against Me! fans have to deal with. This is where class comes into play. Teeny boppers and soccer moms aren’t used to seeing such a large gathering of tattoo baring, heavily pierced, aggressive, and rowdy troublemakers. On the other hand, these punks aren’t used to seeing such a large gathering of kids and women with scrunchies in their hair. These different cultures clash. The punks now feel out of their element. Even other fans that look like them could just be “posers”-pretending to be something they are not- or they themselves could be considered posers for attending such a concert.

Does your head hurt yet? It should. This can all be very confusing. Punks in general have a stereotypical reputation. A reputation that the younger generation enjoys and feels the need to upkeep (the aging punks learned a long time ago that none of this really matters, and soon the younger generation will also come to this realization). The need to challenge the mainstream and any kind of authority is the basic attitude behind punk. But the ironic thing is that true punk was exploited a long time ago and is no longer around. After a counter-culture is discovered by the mainstream it dies; just like grunge and the hippies. But the stereotypical punk lifestyle is so desirable to so many people that in a way it carries on. As these kids go to hot topic and buy their Sex Pistols shirt, they know (in the back of their minds) that they are buying from a major chain corporation. They also know that this isn’t what the anarchy/punk attitude is all about and that Sid Vicious is turning in his grave. But they do it anyway, and they choose to ignore these facts along with their peers and everyone else. This is done because the music they listen to tells them to look and act rebellious; but in this act they aren’t actually rebelling, they are simply conforming.

Against Me! fans went from seeing shows like this:

To shows like this:

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Welcome to Music Cul!

Our blog is designed to link aspects of music and culture together. Specifically, who listens to what and why. How does the music influence a persons attitude, dress, and lifestyle? Is this a conscience desicion? We will explore this and more in our posts. Each group member will bring a different perspective and genre to the blog.

This is a group project for ENGL 313 Popular Culture. Our members are Jessica S, Jessica M, Eric, & Cecilia.