I’ve been looking back at the first conference paper I delivered, nearly 2 years ago, at a really great event about musical subcultures and their portrayal in media. The paper was largely unconnected with my Ph.d. thesis, and there are some glaring flaws in it, but it deals with some things I’ve been thinking about for a while, and could probably have some sort of point to make if I tightened it up, trimmed the fat and made the arguments more explicit. That draft paper is available here, but I think I probably summarize the main points more clearly below. My writing has improved at least slightly from years of supervisors shouting “be clearer dammit” while hitting me with their belts. So feel free to follow the link if the waffle below interests you, but it’s probably not important to understand what I’m getting at. In fact, the original paper will probably cloud the issue. At the time, the main point I was trying to make was that predominantly “white” musical subcultures seem to enjoy a more naturalized place in gaming culture . Even when a game isn’t explicitly \METAL/ – like Brutal Legend or Rock Band – dark fantasy games like Skyrim, Dishonored, DMC, plus pretty much every post-apocalyptic game (due to the references to punk fashion drawn from 80s-90s films of the genre) readily appropriate elements of punk and metal influence into their world building and character design. Whereas hip-hop has generally had a more marginalized place. For example, there was the fuss some metallers made over the decision to include hip-hop on the Twisted Metal soundtrack, and a lot of sneering at Marc Ecko’s “Gettin’ Up” when it came out. Games like Afro Samurai or Wu Tang: Taste The Pain are generally of niche appeal and slip under the radar, and if you go to any gaming events like an expo or a LAN party the ambient soundtrack is generally heavy rock and dance with the occasional pop track thrown in for taste-trolling.
“A scant minority of games does not a norm make … PaRappa retains its uniqueness because of the music style (rap and hip hop), which means that it’s not the norm. If it was Parappa the Geetarr Playa, nobody would remember the game to this day, because it’s so normal.”
Good point IMO.
BTW, if you want to get to the meat of the draft article, I recommend skipping to page 8, where you will find a sweet rundown of enemies in 1980s-90s Beat ‘Em Ups and how they all had mohawks (because that was totally threatening and rad).