When I were a lad, eating me Hovis butties and sleeping ten to a bed down the pit, we had lots of youth cults. We had punks, skinheads, mods, soul-boys, futurists, rockabillies, heavy metallists (not sure what they were called, but you know what I mean), goths, even a few left-over hippies.
Most of them were based around musical tastes, and had their own style of dress so that other members were easier to spot and therefore group together.
Some people strayed from cult to cult until they found one that fit their real musical tastes (rather than their pretended musical tastes in an attempt to look “cool”). Others just got it right the first time and stuck with their first choice even after it became classed as passé.
(On a related note, some people gave up on their youth cult identity forever soon after leaving school, others continued it long into their twenties and then re-adopted it in their forties — just like the middle-aged teddy boys we used to laugh at in my day.)
Fast forward mumble years, and what do we have now? The closest you would get would be street gangs shooting each other over post codes, or online gaming clans. But they all look the same. They all wear the same brand logos, they all have the same hair-style, and it has nothing to do with music any more.
There hasn’t really been any new music-based youth cult since the late 80s when Extreme Noise Terror and Doom/Sore Throat type bands were briefly popular. (Even then it was mostly punks in their late twenties/early thirties rather than teenagers). After that came trance music, and the evolution of the youth cult stopped dead in its tracks.
So what’s to blame for the current generation’s apathy and desire to blend in with the crowd? Video games? The end of Thatcherism? Brainwashing tactics brought into schools by Tony Blaire? Subliminal messages inserted into trance music?