Subcultures and the Mainstream
Look at the following pictures. How would you describe the people shown in them?
What subcultures you know about? Share what you know with your group?
Do you feel an affinity with any subculture?
People who are different are often stigmatized by society. For instance, Michael Jackson
was called ‘Wacko Jacko’ because he slept in an oxygen tent and was a social recluse.
Examples of subcultures
Freegans are famous for ‘dumpster diving’ to get free food – they
eat food that other people have thrown away.
From the website Freegan.info:
Freeganism is a total boycott of an economic system where the
profit motive has eclipsed ethical considerations and where mas-
sively complex systems of productions ensure that all the prod-
ucts we buy will have detrimental impacts most of which we may
never even consider. Thus, instead of avoiding the purchase of
products from one bad company only to support another, we
avoid buying anything to the greatest degree we are able.
The word freegan is compounded from “free” and “vegan”. Ve-
gans are people who avoid products from animal sources or
products tested on animals in an effort to avoid harming animals.
Freegans take this a step further by recognizing that in a complex, industrial, mass-
production economy driven by profit, abuses of humans, animals, and the earth abound at all
levels of production (from acquisition to raw materials to production to transportation) and in
just about every product we buy. Sweatshop labor, rainforest destruction, global warming,
displacement of indigenous communities, air and water pollution, eradication of wildlife on
farmland as “pests”, the violent overthrow of popularly elected governments to maintain pup-
pet dictators compliant to big business interests, open-pit strip mining, oil drilling in environ-
mentally sensitive areas, union busting, child slavery, and payoffs to repressive regimes are
just some of the many impacts of the seemingly innocuous consumer products we consume
2 Black Metal
Heavy Metal has many sub-genres and Black Metal is one of
them. Having a strong presence in countries like Norway, Swe-
den, Germany and Finland, Black Metal bands screech lyrics
over fast-paced, atmospheric guitar music. Black Metal bands
use Satanic imagery in their art, clothing and lyrics. In the early
nineties, Black Metal’s image was tarnished when it was linked
to church burnings, assault and murder cases in Norway.
Examples of subcultures (cont.)
The Furries are known for dressing up in furry animal
costumes at their get-togethers. Their costumes can be
quite elaborate and cute or sometimes sexy. The cos-
tumes may cover the whole body. A Furry’s alter ego is
called their ‘fursona’ – a play on the word ‘persona’.
“You are encouraged not to judge this very broad group
of proud and individually unique people, but rather to
learn what is important to each. Although some can be
shy, and many will not speak while in costume, most
Furries are generally very friendly and willing to share
their individual interest in the community with those who
show genuine curiosity.”
1 Why do you think people are drawn to subcultures?
2 What role has the Internet played in propagating sub-
3 What is the role of music in subculture?
4 Can subcultures be dangerous, either physically or
5 Some people are derisive of mainstream culture, see-
ing it as monotonous, uninspiring and ‘for the herd’. What
are your views on this?
6 How would you describe the mentality of someone
drawn to an extreme subculture?
7 The Green Day song, ‘Minority’ contains the lyrics: ‘I
wanna be the minority, down with the moral majority’. Do you think some people want to be
different just for the sake of being different?
8 This is a quote from Jack Keroauc’s book On the Road:
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to
be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a com-
monplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spi-
ders across the stars.”
What does he mean by this? Why does he feel this way? Do you feel the same way?
9 Do you feel that modern society alienates people? In particular, do you think that people
who are more intelligent are alienated?
10 Is the world becoming more homogenized?
11 Do you believe that people become more conservative as they get older? Why do people
think this? Do you see yourself getting more conservative when you become older?
12 The American Declaration of Independence discusses the right to pursue happiness. Do
you believe that everyone is truly able to pursue happiness?