Punk Subculture and the Queer Critique of Community on 1980s Cable TV: The Case of New Wave Theatre

Brad Stiffler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

If histories of television recognize it all, the relationship between punk subculture and the mass cultural medium of television is often rendered as a story of misreprentation, conflict, or mutual avoidance. Such studies overlook a rich history of punks throughout North America who produced numerous programs for cable television, especially the non-commercial forum of public access, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Conceiving of TV as a kind of social technology, some punks actively and critically engaged in producing subculture both on and through the medium. This article looks at the case of New Wave Theatre (Theta/KSCI 1979–1983), a Los Angeles–based cable program that featured punk and new-wave bands, performance art, and interviews. It argues that through distinctive performance tactics and production practices, New Wave Theatre developed a form of “subcultural television” rooted in queer “antisociality”.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-58
Number of pages17
JournalTelevision and New Media
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

Keywords

  • cable
  • community
  • punk
  • queer theory
  • subculture
  • television

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