Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Mods vs Rockers in the 1960s : Creation of a Moral Panic

One weekend in 1964 residents and holiday-makers in the seaside towns of Brighton, Bournemouth and Margate, were rocked by a sudden influx of young, cool gangs. They were Mods and Rockers, and the culture clash that occurred that weekend, described in the articles below in The Daily Sketch, Daily Mirror and others, has become iconic in the history of youth culture. 

Mods and Rockers were easily identifiable by their distinctive clothing styles: the Mods wore Fred Perry and Ben Sherman designer suits, covered by a Parka jacket; while the Rockers wore leather biker jackets and jeans. Mods also rode European scooters like Lambrettas and Vespas and listened to a mix of Motown, ska and bands such as The Who. 

The Rockers favoured motorbikes and listened to American rock and roll such as Eddie Cochrane and Elvis. Although the movements were short-lived, violent clashes between the two gangs were seized on by the media and used by moralists to exemplify the outrageous liberties enjoyed by Britain’s youths. 

The seafront vandalism and violence described in the newspaper article was later made into the 1979 film Quadrophenia.

The video below shows how the media in the 1960s reported the clashes between mods and rockers and considers whether or not the media coverage exaggerated the scale of events leading to a 'moral panic' in relation to the behaviour of these youth subcultures.

This is evidence of historical creation of collective identity for British youth cultures.

The following is taken from

The seaside battles between the sartorially elegant Mods and their leather-clad rivals the Rockers fuelled much sensationalist media coverage in 1964.
As news of the fighting and arrests filtered out, these youngsters found themselves at the forefront of public outrage.
In fact, the Easter weekend shenanigans were pretty much the first mass-media scare over a drug-taking, mindless, violent youth.
The trouble caused enough outrage for Panorama to investigate the groups and work out whether this phenomenon would be become a regular feature of future bank holidays.
The results were strikingly candid; providing a snapshot of working-class youth at the point where deference to the establishment was beginning to wane.
The Mods preached a hedonistic take on life; enjoying drugs, music, clothes and violence to a lesser or greater degree and set a blueprint for many a youth tribe to follow.
You can watch part of the Panorama programme by clicking on the link below..

In what ways do the media texts referenced above create a representation of young people as being a danger to society?

  • The links featured above say "Inevitably the two gangs clashed. The 1964 Whitsun weekend violence in Brighton was famously dramatised in the film Quadrophenia (1979).'' and so from this we can establish that the media is the reason youth subculture may be becoming more violent. 
  • The media and films worked together in a way which portrayed various sub-cultures as being dangerous, Particularly the "Mods" and the "Rockers" They associated them with Drugs, Sex and a whole lot of violence. They made it appear as though, If you did not belong to a particular stereotype then you would amount to nothing- This is supported by the quote from 'Jimmy' In "Quadropenia" when he is questioned bout being a Mod and this quote, in  a way, seemed to inspire the youth culture of the time to fit in and become 'something'
  • Young people are represented as being a danger to society as they are often thought to be the ones starting riots etc, they may start these riots to fit into certain groups; The mods would often follow one another and form larger gangs.
  • Bad behaviour is often highlighted in the media (London Riots etc) and so people may feel that they are in some ways famous if they commit a crime
  • Stereotyping youths can cause them to lash out on society, for example if you stereotype someone who wears a hoodie and a baseball cap as a thug, they are more likely to feel the need to fit in with that stereotype
  • Music has a large impact on youth subculture and many previous generations feel that the violence in music plays a large part in the violence in day to day life.

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