How can images be discussed in terms of their authenticity or inauthenticity?
Authenticity of images could be divided into two sections for discussion: one is time and space, and the other is a different concept of audiences. As noted, a German philosopher and cultural critic, Walter Benjamin (1968: P217-251) has remarked that artworks can be created in a unique moment through significant emotion. Even if their appearance may be completely imitated through scientific technique, advanced machine equipment and superior craftsmanship, the special emotion is hard to reproduce. Namely, the authenticity of photography is difficult to copy. However, the cultural authenticity of the extension of the photograph is worth discussing due to the differences in the audience’s position and concept. They might cause the content of the photograph along with the accompanying text of other contexts to be relatively conflicting for readers. As Thomas H. Wheeler (2002:P116) claimed “Photocredibility doesn’t depend on how professionals define their teams, but rather on whether readers believe they are being bamboozled. If readers bring an expectation of veracity to any photo appearing in purportedly nonfiction, and the image turns out to have been staged or otherwise faked, credibility will surely decline in the publication and perhaps in visual journalism itself.” The example of The Truman Show, in the director’s eyes, Truman was real. Because there was no script nor prompt. This was a real document. On the other hand, in various perspectives of the different audiences, the show was authentic or inauthentic, and might be interpreted differently. However, from the advertisers’ point of view, the show was a platform for product-placement marketing. Thus, reality television was an ironic truth. For other example, some publications, their marketing function might carry and hide some level of implied truth. The main reason is considered to be eventually commercial. This essay is first going to discuss the authenticity of a newspaper from the 1960s British underground presses, examining the history of IT. Secondly, it will discuss the ‘zines’ and mainstream newspapers as to what the relationship was between them from 1960, over a decade, and will finish by demonstrating the authenticity of the images through an exploration of the mainstream consumption in the fashion industry in the present.
Regarding the counterculture of the 1960s in the United Kingdom, it refers to anti-establishment culture; a wide range of the social tensions developed various related issues, and expanded to the following generation’s behaviours, such as sexuality, women’s rights, the authority of traditional models, drug issues, and so on. These main movements reflected a turbulent period in society at the time. Meanwhile, radios and televisions were controlled by the government, and the only way to give alternative points of view was through the medium of print. This was the reason, some young and ambitious pointers, writers and artists, such as Hoppy, Barry Miles and Tom McGrath and so on, decided to created an underground newspaper, called International Time (it or IT). IT was the first British underground newspaper, published in London in 1966, beginning a new media revolution. The editorial themes of IT were: Eroticism, Cynicism, Escapism, Dynamism and Patriotism, uniting the British avant-garde and countercultural issues. There were two key events that lead to IT’s liquidation. Hoppy was arrested and charged with possession of illegal drugs. In addition, in 1970, Peter Stansill, as an editor of IT, published an advertisement for homosexuality which was a crime of which he was found guilty. He claimed ‘As a newspaper with some sort of social conscience we thought we could make a positive and practical contribution to the welfare of homosexuals.’ as suggested by James Birch and Barry Miles (2017: P14-21). Over five decades later, there is still a certain amount of controversy regarding homosexuality, although relative openness and respect have been raised in today’s society. The spirit of IT, which was to provide determined faith for a minority of individuals, was worthy of admiration. Compared to mainstream newspaper, the ‘zines’ might were much more authentic.
During the mid-to –late 1960s, the younger generation launched a revolution, called Swinging London, with modernity and fun-loving hedonism as its central focus. Because of the majority of young people rushed into the city of London, coupled with the postwar economic boom, their phenomenon was created. The younger generation preferred to enjoy greater liberty and less duty than their parents’ generation and supported the ideology of sex and drugs liberation and fighting for their rights. In the Swinging process, the revolution stimulated the conservative opposition. For example, IT was scorned by the
traditional press, such as the New Left Review and the News of The World and so on. (Jonathon green, 1999: P157) The News of The World was firmly against the hippy counterculture. Thus, the International Times and activist Mick Farren and his supporters staged a demonstration outside the office of this newspaper. (Revolvy online magazine) According to Jonathon Green (1999: P158), Arnold Goodman, an eminence grise of the government, claimed that ‘ young people lack values, lack certainties, lack guidance…they need something to turn to.’ That is to say, in the young mind, the counterculture and the underground zines raised their emotions and warmed their blood and sincerity. While, in the opinion of the traditional generation, they were the destroyers of social stability. As the essay has mentioned above, there is a gap in authenticity because of the differences in concept and perspective. And with reference to Barry Miles’s achievement of IT. It collaborated between the village voice as well as protest and indignation of evolution, publishing at a peak of approximately 44,000 copies a fortnight. (Jonathon green, 1999: P159)
There is evidence to discuss the images of the British underground press of the sixties in terms of authenticity or inauthenticity and faded underground zines, dividing into several segments: gay liberation, racism and the consequent mass consumption in the fashion industry.
International Times NO.87 Sept 10-24, 1970 Jean François Bizot, 2006: P208-209
There are several segments to discuss as to the authenticity of the images. Firstly, regarding the content of the newspaper, these are advertisements and a film review on a production, called Performance, emphasizing sensuality, bisexuality and the vice of drugs. Therefore, I propose a question mark in the section for sharing authenticity to readers. The main reason is the journalist might have simultaneously poured his personal emotion into the review which affected the readers opinions. Nowadays, humans generally live surrounded by mass media, nothing is real and everything is artificial inauthentic and reproduced. As Mark Twain noted (1903),’ Substantially all ideas are second hand, consciously or unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources.’ Furthermore, why was the image of the theatrical release poster presented in pop art form? Pop art began as a resistant art form to against the dominant technique of expression, such as oil paintings and photography, and traditional opinion on how art should be created. (Tate) In my opinion, in the later period of 1960s, society still belonged to conservatism. The editors of IT presented their statement with the images which came to symbolise the perspective of revolting the traditional rules, employing irony and the parody method. This is not difficult to observe, the editorial group had great artistic cultivation and they were educated to struggle in a tug of war of traditional and mainstream notions. Finally, regarding the content of the film, with reference to Jean François Bizot (2006: P208-209, P251) who remarked that ‘Nothing is true, everything is permitted.’ Namely, film itself is a fantasy, but creators have an ability to make dreams come true. However, the film involves excess pornography. The director had to cut it in a few places in order for it to be released to the public. Created in 1968, eventually the film was released two years later. It also is one of the most influential and innovative films in British Cinema. According to the discussion, the images might were real for the editors, but the audiences might doubted its authenticity.
International Times NO. 21, Nov 17-30, 1967 James Birch and Barry Miles, 2017: P32
The British government legislated against racial discrimination in 1965. The new Race Relations Act forbids prejudice based on “grounds of colour, race, or ethnic or national origins” in public areas, including a
ll British residents and foreign visitors. (BBC News, 2010) Furthermore, the government passed an act which made it illegal to reject housing and employment to people because of their background and skin colour, promoting “harmonious community relations” in 1968. (BBC News) However, according to the document from BBC News(2001), I took until 1973, for the first black newsreader in the UK, Trevor McDonald to be hired. This shows society did not end racial discrimination because of the Race Relations Act. The image on this cover of IT was also a metaphor for Royalty and society promising one thing, but doing another through the capital letters slogan and the other slogan with lower case letters. (KILL THE BLACKS and it’s n
ot the colour of your skin. it’s the colour of your heart.) On the using colour to discuss the authenticity, the blood red with skulls was a symbol of the sacrifice of the resistances. On the other hand, why was the seemingly royal lady in black and white rather than colour? My personal view is that perhaps the lady was implying she has black skin, therefore why not kill her, even if she was a queen. Racial discrimination still exists in the present day. As result of the vote of the EU referendum
of 2016, it is on the table that the British citizens might want to reproduce Britain’s heroic attitude again. In fact, they may not host too many immigrants and may worry
about the consequent increase in criminal issues. It is reasonable to be selfish, who does not want to live in a secure society?
According to the image, I think this is a statement of the two positions. Therefore it was quite authentic. Although there were metaphors and sense of provocation in the way they express.
As Jean François Bizot (2006: P195) men
tioned ‘ Money will be the next big young kick’ And as noted, a professor of Media and Culture at the Gallatin School, Stephen Duncombe (1997, p105) remarked, “ For if zines are the expression of an underground culture that marks its identity in opposition to the aboveground world, today, the ubiquity of mass consumption characterizers mainstream society as distinctly as any other trait.” This means that zines are a reflection on non-mainstream culture, whereas nowadays
the press is subjected to mass consumption and so is becoming more mainstream. Relatively speaking, the press has gradually lost its authenticity. On the other hand, consumption seems like a democratic movement, but it is controlled through the vast media. Namely, the press and consumption check and balance each other, and then the effect is the humans’ horizon is severely restricted
. Similarly, the aesthetic stander of humans is becoming similar, and the cultural assimilation also has a tendency to be homogenized. These presses reforge consciously and do not connect between themselves and the society client pay. (Stephen Duncombe, 1997:P105-130) For instance, viral marketing, vast media build bridges to worldwide fashion marketers to create brand awareness among customers to raise product sales without their notice (Nawaz, 2015) Moreover, Alexis Borges, director of Next Model Management (The New York TIME, 2011) claimed ‘ Now fashion bloggers are right up there with editors in helping to mould what the consumer is going to buy.’ The evidence reveals consumers as sheep, follo
wing the fashion trend blindly, which fashion marketing deliberately construct through mass media, such as magazines, and the other stronger influence from word of mouth of fashion bloggers.
In conclusion, nowadays, the underground presses gradually evolve into vast social media through bloggers and freelance journalists, such as Twitter, expressing counterculture. The stimulation of t
he mass media built upon
consumption, producing inauthentic reports. There is nothing about image authenticity before and now. However, zines are the product of society shock, perhaps they were too hedonistic to fade, but they were successful and authentic in art history and their mind. As suggested by Philosopher, Platon, the world cannot be thought of as being real through
humans’ physical senses. However, the world is real when seen through our souls. The world is only the shadow of the soul world. I wonder if we have ever clearly observed this world and recognized the authenticity through our soul. It follows that if we have never glimpsed reality, then we are unable to why consumers are so easily manipulated to lose their authenticity.
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James Birch and Barry Miles (2017: P14-99), The British underground press of the sixties. Published in the UK by John Conway, Mal Peachey. ISBN:9781910978191
Jean François Bizot and foreword by Barry Miles(2006), 200 Trips From the Counterculture Graphics and Stories from the Underground Press Syndicate. Published in the UK by Thames & Hudson Ltd. ISBN: 978-0-500-28605-5
Jonathon green (1999: P148-159), All Dressed Up- The Sixties and the Counterculture. Published in Great Britain by Jonathan Cape 1988, Pimlico edition 1999. ISBN: 0-7126-6523-4
Stephen Duncombe (1997:P105-130). Note From Underground Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture. Published by Vers
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Thomas H. Wheeler (2002: P116-122), Phototruth or Photofiction ? : Ethics and Media Imagery in the Digital Age. Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., ISBN:0-8058-4261-6
BBC News (2010). On This Day: 8 December 1965: New UK Race Law ‘Not Tough Enough’. Availability at http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/december/8/newsid_4457000 /4457112.stm
BBC News. On This Day: 26 November 1968: Race Discrimination Law Tightened. Availability at http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/november/26/newsid_322000 0/3220635.stm
BBC News (2001). 10 Key Moments in U
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Nawaz Ahmad, Atif Salman, and Rubab Ashiq. (2015) “The impact of social media on fashion industry: empirical investigation from Karachiites.” Availability at
Revolvy online magazine. News of the world. Availability at https://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=News%20of%20the%20World
Tate. Pop art. Availability at http://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/p/pop-art
The New York Time, Steven Kurutz (20
11) Fashion bloggers, posted and represented Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/29/fashion/fashion- bloggers-get-agents.html