Since rock and roll became a major influence on commercial music in the 1950s, there have been many claims about the effect of rock music on youth culture. It is hard to prove with absolute certainty the validity of most of these claims, but there have been some effects that have been well studied and documented.
One of the strongest claims levied against rock and roll music is that it makes teenagers more violent, especially in its more aggressive forms such as punk rock and metal. A 1997 study at Stanford University has shown that in fact the opposite may be true, and that youth may form an antagonistic stance toward violence because of its portrayal in rock music and associated music videos. Many teens are turned off by violence after they are faced with the reality of it and are therefore less likely to engage in violent acts.
Rock and roll has also been labeled as intensifying emotions of teenagers. Though this is true, it is more likely to appeal to a teenager's affective predisposition. A violent, negative or optimistic youth may become more emotional when listening to rock and roll music, but his emotions will not be completely changed because of this music. Some teens may even be positively effected by rock and roll music that is labeled violent or aggressive simply because it puts him in a good mood.
Since rock and roll music became popular among teenagers around the world, it has been associated with progressive social action. Most notably music festivals such as Woodstock have been platforms for youth culture to vent their frustration with widespread societal problems. Though rock music has certainly played a role in gathering together like-minded individuals within youth culture, it can not be said that the music itself is directly responsible for this change. It can, however, act as a catalyst for protests and even violent reactions from youth culture.
Popular music can have a large impact on the aesthetics of youth culture. There have been many styles that have started with famous rock and roll bands. In an attempt to emulate their favorite acts, teenagers may change their look, dress and even attitude. This has extreme forms such as the Beatles haircut that became famous in the 1960s, but can also have more subtle effects on purchasing trends of youth culture.
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