Remapping the Blurred Boundary Between Mainstream and Underground Culture on Myspace.com
Since the rise of social networking sites in participatory media, the line between the producer and consumer has been blurred (Jenkins 2003; Guantlett , 2004). This phenomenon has also resulted in celebration and intermixture of a wide array of cultures. Especially, in consideration of the way in which the music section of Myspace.com operates, this internet space clearly exists as obfuscation of cultures between mainstream and underground despite its clear demarcation on the basis of three classifications, Major Label, Indie Label and Unsigned. The networks do not discriminate popular culture from underground culture. In this context, the following question becomes pertinent: How does one conceptualize the different cultures co-existing on participatory media sites? Is the boundary between the mainstream and underground cultures completely obliterated? How does one understand the phenomenon of Tila Tequila, a popular girl on myspace.com who now has a reality show of her own on MTV? She falls into the category of “unsigned” artist, but clearly she has blended into and been accepted by mainstream culture. This paper explores the ways in which to study the blurred boundaries between mainstream cultures and underground culture. Drawing from Guattari’s ethico-aesthetic paradigm, this paper underpins a new framework of studying the fuzzy boundaries existing between mainstream and underground. In doing so, it aims to depict the decentralizing movement of various dichotomies: mainstream vs. underground, popular vs. aesthetic, popular aesthetic vs. aesthetic, Aesthetic vs. aesthetic. As a whole, this paper remaps the cartography of myspace.com’s culture.
Keywords: Myspace.com, Underground vs. Mainstream Culture, Aesthetic, Popular vs. Aesthetic, Social Networking Sites
Hiesun Cecilia Suhr
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Journalism and Media Studies, Rutgers University