Täbb: What the internet age means for subculture

I love having a 15 year old nephew-in-law - he clues me in on all sorts of youth culture stuff I'm too old to catch spontaneously. (Oh, and Wayne, he claims that it is indeed Ludacris.) Last month I indirectly got the heads-up from him on a new subculture that's big around where he lives in an affluent suburb of Stockholm: the täbb.

Apparently coming to wide attention just a couple of months ago via a now deleted Facebook group, it's got a lot of the trappings of a traditional subculture. There's the group-identifying name (possibly derived from Täby, the suburb where they first appeared, and possibly derogatory). Obviously, there's the look (via):

Which is seemingly based on the style ideal of Swedish Idol 2006 contestant Danny Saucedo, and consists of, among other things, hair gel (not wax), 96 brand jeans from G-Star, visibly orange-looking fake tan and lip gloss, rubber bands around the ankles, Open shirts with folded-up collars and tacky souvenir necklaces. It it, as yet, exclusively male. Nor does it seem to have a musical style attached, beyond normal-ish post-electro house - but of course music is uaully no more than an accessory among others in these cases, so I'm sure a specific set of artists will soon develop.

Still, somehow, somewhere, it all feels slightly wrong. It's like it's almost a play at, or a superifical gesture towards a subculture rather than a real one. At the end of their lives, subcultures are reduced to clichés - people have "70's parties" over them. Here it's almost like all other stages are bypassed in the subcultural process, and people are dressing up as täbb instead of being täbb. Even the original practitioners.

A subculture rising meteorically in popularity is hardly a new phenomenon but here it's as if there's just the rise, nothing before. Again, it seems like a mere surface, an ironic joke of a subculture which no-one takes seriously. Does this kind of thing say something about the internet? There's been a lot of play towards cultural detachment on the internet in the past few years. Sites like Discobelle, that post a little of everything, are clearly not out to be subcultural at all. (Ironically leading to their output being labeled blog house, but that's another story.)

Maybe täbb is what happens when kids are totally uprooted - they believe the surface is the content. Much like, I think, Discobelle. Or the entire Global Ghettotech thing. It's subculture construed as a non-cultural phenomenon - a community without a community.

Which, I think, is bloody confusing.


chocolatepie said...

I think this is an issue of subcultures being created around some sort of commercial venue rather than something, well, cultural. If this trend is based on a contestant's "look," who's to say the look hasn't been manufactured and packaged by some marketing exec? Unlike other subcultures that find a common thread in music or art or literature or poetry, these guys are solely defined by their physical image, and to be frank, this look doesn't seem to stand out enough to create a strong group of followers, unlike other fashion subcultures.

Birdseed said...

I do feel it's a bit of a pseudo-subculture. But with the international reach as pointed out by Donnie, maybe it is indeed bigger than previously thought? The pretty boys especially I thought especially interesting.

Anonymous said...

from DIGG

"Swedbag's, kinda like D-Bag's, only Blonder...!" (http://digg.com/users/Cookiepuss)