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Shane MeadowsCritical Essays$
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Martin Fradley, Sarah Godfrey, and Melanie Williams

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748676392

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748676392.001.0001

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A Message to You, Maggie: 1980s Skinhead Subculture and Music in This is England

A Message to You, Maggie: 1980s Skinhead Subculture and Music in This is England

(p.111) Chapter 8 A Message to You, Maggie: 1980s Skinhead Subculture and Music in This is England
Shane Meadows

Tim Snelson

Emma Sutton

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter details how Shane Meadows' This Is England mediates the 1980s through a nostalgic rendering of subcultural resistance via key iconographic and musical cues. In so doing, the film and the subsequent television series engender an idealised image of skinhead subculture – or more accurately subcultures – that recall the romanticized sociological accounts of Birmingham University's Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies from the 1970s and early 1980s. Reproducing these early subcultural scholars' focus upon the ‘magical realms' of ritual and style, Meadows juxtaposes the lush colours, dreamlike slow motion and the joyful non-diegetic soundtrack of the skinhead gang – at least before its ideological infiltration by far right extremism – to the ‘colourless walls of routine’ of Thatcher's Britain. However, this chapter provides neither a purely textual nor auteurist approach to the film. Instead it situates the textual strategies and authorial signature of This is England within their wider historical contexts of production, mediation and consumption, through analysis of its key intertexts – chiefly the music and sociological literature it draws upon – and a range of pre and post-production reception materials such as interviews with the director, publicity material, reviews from mainstream and niche presses.

Keywords:   Shane Meadows, Margaret Thatcher, Thatcherism, Skinhead, Subculture, Music, Nostalgia, reception

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