the question this article asks is: What happens to subcultures in the digital age? The question is grounded in the author’s adoption of Dick Hebdige’s definition of subcultures. Hebdige famously argues that subcultures are “hiding in the light”, that is, that they are simultaneously taking place in social environments, and suspicious of or hostile to outsiders. The author of the article asks: how can they survive in the age of eutube? When everything fringy can be mainstreamed, without the intention or consent of the fringers, is there subcultural space left?
I wouldn’t place some of the same limits on the concept of “subcultures” that Hebdige does in his definition, or the author’s interpretation of it. In part, this is because the way the concept is used collapses a fair amount of diversity into sameness, and in an unhelpful way. It treats Fetishists of Mother-Son sexual intercourse the same as…well…according to the article…fans of the little jokey film Spiders on Drugs. Or, Satanists and Goddess Worshipers. In both cases, the existance of a public realm in which they are misunderstood or criticized fuels the bon homie within the group; I would grant that. But the social costs of being among the Fetishists or the film fans are starkly different. I would argue, based on no evidence whatsoever, that most Fetishists may fantasize about being discovered and shamed by their friends and families, but most wouldn’t want that fantasy to be realized, while the Film Fans actually don’t mind so much. And so the final thought of the article (subcultures will now be found in the most public, high traffic places) isn’t convincing, to me.