Cecilia Brioni
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Beats, 1965–67
in Fashioning Italian youth
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Chapter 2 examines how the emergence of the beat trend in 1965 problematised the image of ‘youth-as-fun’ which circulated in the early 1960s. The term ‘beat’ was used in popular media to describe both a British-inspired style – made up of trends such as the miniskirt and long hair for men – and political movements that were inspired by the American beatniks. Magazines like Big and Giovani culturally translated the beat trend for Italian youth, by either ‘mirroring’ or ‘othering’ language and practices from other countries. The media’s emphasis on leisure activities in the Italian beat culture encouraged young people’s consumption of commercial goods, and implicitly suggested the youth’s political and social disengagement. The defusion of the beat trend’s subversive potential is underscored by its recurrent representation as a disguise in Musicarelli films. The chapter also examines how style elements like long hair for young men and an androgynous appearance for young women threatened established gender norms in Italian society. Popular media stripped these elements of their subversive connotations, namely gender bending and sexual emancipation. For example, the androgynous appearance of young pop icons Rita Pavone and Caterina Caselli was balanced in popular media with a normative representation of their private lives.

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