Mass media undoubtedly plays a large role in shaping modern culture. With information easily obtained with a mere tapping of buttons, it is not surprising that today’s society has become a melting pot of cultures.
A combination of ancient traditions and present day practices, culture can no longer be defined by religion or ethnic group the way it was done in the past. The culture practiced by people today, varies from one individual to another due to their different influences. A significant cultural influence that is often underrated is Glam Rock.According to the Oxford Dictionary, glam rock (or glitter rock) is defined as a style of rock music first popular in the early 1970s, characterized by male performers wearing exaggeratedly flamboyant clothes and make-up (Oxford Dictionaries). Described by legendary musician John Lennon as “rock and roll with lipstick on”, glam rock first emerged in the United Kingdom, coinciding with the sexual revolution in the late 60s and early 70s when gender lines were being blurred and the concept of androgyny was introduced.It went on to play an important role in not only the evolution of music but also in fashion and lifestyles.
Pioneers include David Bowie, and bands T. Rex and Roxy Music. David Bowie’s alien alter ego Ziggy Stardust is considered by many to be the face of glam rock. Glam rock culture was spread using various forms of mass media such as radio and film. Among some of the glam rock songs that dominated the charts back then were ‘20th Century Boy’ by T.
Rex, ‘School’s Out’ by Alice Cooper and ‘Ziggy Stardust’ by David Bowie. Films also played an important part in spreading glam rock.Films such as ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ and ‘Phantom of the Paradise’ made their debut in the mid 1970s with their glam rock soundtracks and campy styles. Another classic is Velvet Goldmine, a drama film about a famous musician set in the golden era of glam rock. The usage of radio and film help broadcast the messages and ideologies of glam rock among audiences all over the world. Although the popularity of glam rock declined in the late 1970s, its influence did not.
Glam rock carved out paths for new genres of music such as glam metal, gothic rock and new romantics.Until today, its influence can be seen in music produced by artists such as Adam Lambert, Lady Gaga and Scissor Sisters. Glam rock also raised awareness for social issues such as homosexuality and racism, breaking down barriers by uniting people of all colors and sexual orientations using music. In addition to that, new fashion trends emerged.
With his red hair, embellished suits and glittery make up, Ziggy Stardust steered the fashion industry away from the hippie bohemian style of the late 60s and toward the rhinestones, sequins and platform shoes that would come to be synonymous with glam rock in the 70s.However, not all influences were positive. Usage of recreational drugs and hard drinking among youth became increasingly common as they witnessed their idols and role models take part in these activities. Heroin and cocaine were a constant presence at rock events and over time, were associated with the rock and roll lifestyle. In those days, death due to drug or alcohol overdose was almost a regular occurrence. It is evident that mass media not only plays a role in shaping culture but even society as a whole.
Without mass media, the likelihood of cultural influences such as glam rock being broadcasted would have been very low.