This online portfolio will discuss three unrelated topics of interest that look to entertain and enlighten its readers. It is online in keeping with the 21st Century and the wide scale move from magazine’s and hard copies to online blogs and websites.

The first entry will discuss this very issue in relation to contemporary music based subcultures Indie and Club. Part of which speaks about how social media and streaming services have began to replace magazines as a source of information on the latest trends in music.

The second entry is the main text, debating whether there is a hidden meaning to Top Gun. Using Henry Jenkins’ slash fiction theories to discuss as to whether it is actually a film about a pilot struggling with his own sexuality and the media’s influence in this.

The third and final entry will discuss postmodern architecture in relation to football stadiums. Looking at the influence of tragedies such as Hillsborough and the Bradford City Stadium fire on postmodern stadiums, as well as the influence of technology, disability regulations and financial opportunities.



Article I – Introduction

Article II – Contents

Article III – Contemporary Music Led Subcultures: Indie and Club Culture

Article IV – Does Top Gun Have a Hidden Meaning?

Article V – Postmodern Architecture: Football Stadia

Article VI – Bibliography

Article VII – Conclusion

Contemporary Music Led Subcultures: Indie and Club Culture

Music and subcultures have always been intertwined, many subcultures are dominated, and even named after their music genre, Punk, Indie, Mods and Rockers are all examples. Indie and club are the most contemporary example of a music-led subculture, and differ greatly from their predecessors with the invention of social media and streaming based music services. While these changes have increased the subjectivity between different genre’s.

Even for the most adamant ‘indie’ it is impossible to create a conclusive list of indie bands without debate over artists that should, or should not be included (Fonarow, 2013, p39). Indie has ‘no exact definition’, it is not a ‘stable object’ and it cannot be describe in the same manner as modssomething that is (Fonarow, 2013, p39). It is a ‘self-definition’ that differs on the group of people, and in order for this group to form ‘members need to create a set of boundaries between what constitutes and what excludes membership’ (Fonarow, 2013, p39). This is because fans are no longer bound by magazines which tell them what is and what is not indie, while social media has given them a platform to discuss this. 

What is conclusive about Indie groups is their desire to be different (Fonarow, 2013, p39). The sound of their favourite band is different and unusual, they are signed to unknown independent record label and they write their own music (Fonarow, 2013, p39).

Previously an indie’s favourite new bands would have came from indie magazines such as NME, with users ritually reading each weeks issue to discover the latest new band. However magazines are currently in the process of being overtaken by streaming based music service’s such as Spotify in this regard. Spotify recommends new songs and artists to it’s users, adding over 20,000 songs to its database daily. It allows them to discover more than ever before, with over 75 million users it’s effect has been powerful.

Social Media has had a similar effect, becoming a primary source of music reviews for indie fans, the instant a single is released, you can find thousands of tweets from fans giving their opinions on the song. Whereas journalist-lead reviews will be posted online before the release of a magazine.

Indie has also transformed ‘club culture’, where there has been a shift from club’s purely devoted to house or dance music to an increasing amount of indie based, alternative nightclubs. Sarah Thornton (1997) describes ‘club culture’ as “British youth cultures for whom dance clubs and their offshoot, raves, are the symbolic axis and working social hub”. Manchester is one of the countries biggest club cities, and has a plethora of ‘Indie clubs’ including Remake-Remodel, 42nd Street, The Venue and Goo at The Deaf Institute proving that there has been a shift from tradition nightclubs.The-Deaf-Institute-Manchester

Many subcultures are based on a set of ideas, a specific fashion choice or music choice, such as the mods who ere simonise for their ‘neat and tidy style’ which included ‘conservative suits’ and short cut hair (Page 52 Hebdige). Whereas Club Culture is ever changing and evolving, they are based on the latest fad or craze, those within the subcultures are always ‘in the know’ about the latest ‘hot club’ (Thornton, 1997, p 200). Each generation of club culture has it’s own fashion, music choice and venue choice, and even these will continuously change (Thornton, 1997, p 200).

A prime example being the latest craze of 80’s bars, such as Mavericks in Huddersfield, one third year student said: “When I moved here, you wouldn’t be seen dead in Mavericks, mavsit was just for older people, but now it is one of the most popular clubs in Huddersfield, both Tokyo and Camel Club have their own 80’s or 90’s throwback nights now.” Indie clubs such as Manchester’s 42nd street are also among the latest craze in club culture, while clubs that play ‘house’ and ‘dance’ music are falling being.

Music has always influenced subcultures strongly and continues to today, but in different ways than before with the invention of social media and the constant changes of club culture. No longer are we forced into our opinions by magazines, leading to more subjectivity in music genres than ever before. What remain are the core ideas of music led subcultures, the desire to be different from others and the connection of music.

Does Top Gun Have a Hidden Meaning?

For most, Top Gun is the ultimate ‘lads action film’, scripted by the US Armed Forces, the film is about pilot Maverick, who is sent to the Air Combat school Top Gun (Burston, 2005, p128). While there he attempts to become the divisions best pilot. During which he meets, and falls in love with naval instructor Charlie Blackwood and battles to win her affection.

However many people interpret the script differently, in a way that is similar to ‘slash fiction’ (Jenkins, 2006, p110). Suggesting that Top Gun is actually about Mavericks struggle with his own sexuality. Henry Jenkins says that slash fiction is often “written about gay men, yet [is] not ‘about’ gay men,” and this theory could be apply to Top Gun (Jenkins, 2006, p79).

Within ‘The Superhero Reader’ it is said that the question of Batman and Robin’s sexuality is not what is important because they are fictional characters, but that what is important is ‘what readers do with the raw material that they are given’ (Medhurst, 2013, p240). Telling the story of a young boy, who had begun to question his sexuality at age 8, who’s interpretation of Batman helped him find solace in himself (Medhurst, 2013, p241). Again, this could apply to viewers of Top Gun.TopGun

For many, sexuality remains an undiscussed topic within films such as Top Gun, as they either do not believe the theory or do not see the relevance of it (Jenkins, 2006, p.79). For others Iceman and the other pilots represent homosexual men, while Charlie, represents heterosexuality (Jenkins, H. 2006, p102).

What is obvious is Mavericks very close friendship with the married Goose, the two of them have a couple like friendship, which begins to hint at Mavericks struggle with his own sexuality. Their relationship is portrayed as having the ‘emotional make-up of homosexual men’ and they act in the way a couple might (Jenkins, H, 2006, p.79).

It is not until his arrival at Top Gun that this struggle becomes clear, with the relationship between him and Iceman. From the outside it appears that the tension between the two of them is fuelled by their determination to be the best, but many studies suggest that in reality it is driven by the sexual tension between the two, and a lust for each other (Jenkins, H, 2006, p80).

Maverick is the outsider of the group, he doesn’t follow the rules the others do, he is cocksure and overly confident, and, for the moment heterosexual. Iceman on the other hand is the opposite, he has a ‘frigid demeanour with blond-boy good looks’, he follows the rules, and fully respects his seniors (Burston, 2005, p127). Eventually earning the title of ‘Top Gun’.

The fact that the two are ‘polar opposites’, fuels this theory, as many romantic films are based upon the fact that ‘otopgunlockerroompposites attract’ (Burston, 2005, p127) . The tension between the two is often very sexual, for examples the long stares and comments between them (Burston, 2005, p127).

What is interesting about the film is that it was scripted largely by the US Armed forces who were in  a recruitment drive, which is why many people question the ‘gay theory,’ as homosexuality had not been completely accepted at the time.

Those who support the theory say that the Armed Forces did not have a political homosexual agenda and that they were not targeting homosexual men, but teenage males in general whose sexuality was ‘raging’ at that point in their lives (Jenkins, 2006, p106). Enticing them with the male antics of the pilots, including the jokes surrounding their sexuality. It worked, with a reported increase of 500% in applications.

As opposed to an attempt to recruit homosexual men or to convince those hiding their sexuality to come out, made evident by the films ending where he falls in love with Charlie (Jenkins, 2006, p107).  It is more of an attempt to reach out to those questioning their sexuality, suggesting that the armed forces can help you overcome these questions.

The sexuality of the pilots is hinted at during a training video at the beginning of Mavericks time at Top Gun, when Iceman reacts to the video by saying, his very first line in the film “This gives me a hard-on” to which his flying partner Slider replies “Don’t tease me.” The entire film is fuelled by homoerotic language, including the very obvious “Get your butts above the hard deck,” “I want butts!” that elude to films hidden homosexual meaning. This scene appearing straight after a locker room scene, where Paul Burston (2005, p128) suggests that one man is ‘contending with an erection through his towel’.

Then of course, there is the infamous volleyball scene. Where the sexual between Iceman and Maverick reaches its peak, fuelled by the incredibly intense competitive nature between the two.

val-kilmerThe sexual tension owing much to the specific shots editing and filming, ‘stripped to the waist, the men jump in the sunlight, their torso’s glistening under the customary coat of sweat’  (Burston, 2005, p128). He is attempting to persuade Maverick that he is homosexual.

There is also the scene straight afterwards where Maverick goes to Charlie’s house for the very first time, they are flirtatious and suggestive and Maverick uses her shower. These scenes are purposely after one another, Maverick has just been in touch with his homosexual side and is struggling with this.

In this scene he is with Charlie who represents Mavericks straight side, he is at hers, covered in sweat after Volleyball match and goes to take a shower, it is highly suggestive that they will have sex in this scene and that Maverick will commit himself to the straight side, but they do not, instead, Maverick leaves.

In the next scene Charlie is seen wearing very masculine clothes, a mens baseball cap, aviator glasses and the same jacket as Iceman and tkelly-bomberhe sexual tension between them appears stronger. She has experienced the last scene where the sexual tension led to nothing and has seen how Maverick acts around the other pilots and has decided to act on this.

The pivotal moment in the film though is the ending sequence where he seemingly earns the respect of Iceman after his meltdown and is also greeted by the return of Charlie, who had left for good. This is where he has to choose between homosexuality and heterosexuality, after the fight with the Russians, the pilots and hugging and kissing and it appears that Iceman may have finally got Maverick and he exclaims “you can be my wingman anytime” and Maverick replies “No, you can be mine.”

It appears as though Maverick has chosen homosexuality and that Iceman has won. Charlie has left and Maverick has just overcame his fear of flying, with Iceman’s assistance. The group have a strong togetherness, they have overcame the Russians, they have overcome Maverick’s fear of flying and they have overcame Maverick’s heterosexuality.

However Charlie then returns in the closing scene, the two of them discuss a potential relationship and then kiss. Maverick and Iceman’s potential relationship, and Mavericks homosexuality are over. In an attempt to ‘reaffirm his hero’s heterosexuality, the director throws in every known romantic cliche’ (Burston, 2005, p128).

This theory provides a strong argument, but in reality as Jackson Medhurst (2013, p240) states, it is not what the film actually means, but ‘what readers do with the raw material that they are given.” If the film helps people as Batman and Superman did with the eight year old boy, then that is what is important.


Postmodern Architecture: Football Stadia

Fredric Jameson (2006) states that it is within architecture that postmodernism is “dramatically visible” and it is particularly evident within sports stadia. Because it is in sports stadia that we have seen drastic development within disability access, seating areas, supporter safety and technology (Paramio, Buraimo, Campos, 2008, P528). Examples of postmodern buildings include the Portland building in Portland, the Burj Al Arab in Dubai and 461 Fifth Avenue in New York.

Prior to the postmodern movement,  football stadiums were built with wooden terraces and standing sections, separated from the pitch by metal fencing (Paramio, Buraimo, Campos, 2008, Page 524). British stadiums were widely known for how close the fans were to the pitch, as opposed to foreign stadiums in which the fans were separated from the pitch by at304314hletics tracks, something that will be seen when West Ham move to the Olympic stadium (Paramio, Buraimo, Campos, 2008, Page 524).

It was after the horrific tragedies of Ibrox Park, Heysel, Bradford and Hillsborough that the re-development of football stadiums properly began (Paramio, Buraimo, Campos, 2008, Page 526). Stadiums were made more ‘surveilled, safe and sanitised’ in order to prevent these disasters recurring, stadiums were made ‘all-seater’, wooden seats were all but removed and safety checks were performed upon entry to the stadiums (Bale, 2000, p 93). It was not just an increase in regulations or the standing ban that were introduced, also introduced were more comfortable, under cover seats, toilets facilities for men and women and food and beverage stores, all of which are associated with postmodern buildings (Paramio, Buraimo, Campos, 2008, Page 524). Outside of football offices, universities and business all have within them coffee shops, food shops and toilet facilities.

West_Ham_United_&_Newham_Council_Olympic_StadiumWhat had came with the increase in safety was also the increase in innovation, as bosses realised the financial potential within the stadiums and finances are at the heart of postmodernism (Paramio, Buraimo, Campos, 2008, Page 526). The more demand there was for tickets, the more tiers and seating the clubs added, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Old Trafford have all increased their seating, while, as of 2014, Liverpool are in the process of doing the same (Paramio, Buraimo, Campos, 2008, Page 525). Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham instead have built or are planning to build new stadiums for the same purposes.

Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena is regarded as an Iconic postmodern building with its grand design, ‘retractable roofs’ and its ability to change colour. Paramio, Burrito and Campos, (2008) claim that the main difference between post modern stadiums and modern stadiums “is the symbiosis between innovative design and commercial development”.allianz-arena_s345x230

What they are saying is that in our capitalist society there is now an emphasis upon the commercial and financial side of postmodern buildings, whether sporting stadia or not (Jameson, 2006, p483). Stadiums such as the Allianz are now thought of as part of the City and the community, in the same way that The Empire State building is a major part of, and represents New York (Bale, 2000, p92).

This is why there is an increased demand to use these stadiums all year round, these building are no longer purely sports stadia but are used for other business (Paramio, Buraimo, Campos, 2008, Page 528). Bale (2000, p93) spoke of stadiums as ‘tradiums’ due to the link between leisure and spending’. Stadiums now feature ‘conference imagesand banqueting facilities, museums, hotels and merchandising’, (Bale, 2000, p93). Chesterfields Proact Stadium even has its own children play area, which is open regularly throughout the week while Manchester City’s Etihad stadium will be used for a series of Stone Roses concerts throughout June 2016 (Bale, 2000, p93). No longer are stadiums purely buildings, but they are now marketable businesses that operate year round, a key component of postmodernism, in keeping with the times.

Disability Access is an often unnoticed part of postmodernism, but one of the biggest changes. Stadiums now require increasing access for disabled citizens, with wheelchair platforms and slopes now common place in both buildings and stadiums.

Football Stadiums are now businesses in themselves, that are not used for purely footballing purposes. They are built to maximise finances for the football clubs, while representing the city, stadiums such as Nou Camp and Allianz Arena are known around the world for their iconic designs and feature, in a similar way that the eiffel tower or The Empire State building are. While safety and accessibility in stadiums is now a primary concern when designing them.



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While unrelated, all three texts do have something in common as they are all postmodern, Top Gun having been written in 1986, while the subcultures and football stadiums are contemporary examples.

Contemporary subcultures differ from past subcultures like Mods and Rockers and Punks in their flexibility, everyone has their own interpretation of indie and club culture in a way that Skinheads, punks, Mods and Rockers did not. Social media and online streaming services have completely changed the way music is viewed, each member of these subcultures now have certain bands that they consider part of the culture, that others may not. 

The Top Gun text is discussing a postmodern theory of homosexuality, something that has not always been accepted, however is now a norm within society. Reiterating Medhurst’s (2013, p240) point that Top Gun. alongside Batman and other similar films are important in helping people understand and accept their sexualities.

The research into Postmodern buildings showed that football stadiums are becoming as iconic and important to cities as buildings like the Empire State Building, they are postmodern works of art that show how far the world has come since the tragedies of Ibrox Park, Heysel, Bradford and Hillsborough. They now have a much greater potential for revenue than ever before, containing restaurants, shops and even hotels.