Unlike the consumerist ideal, alternative media doesn't try to suck you into anything, rather it tries to shake you out of it. The shock factor is a big player in the psychology of conforming to alternative culture, simply being different to the normal expectations is enough to cause a reaction, even if very minor. An unusual piercing or hair colour can suffice, but it is no where near the end of the road. The media itself is designed to form a reaction that causes a sensation of repulsion in some form. Often as a secondary feeling; anger, fear, disgust, and anti-aesthetics can all be called upon to create the sensations.
Because the consumer market dresses everything up to be attractive and almost hypnotic in its delivery, with clear status quo models throughout which re-affirm the notions of mainstream society, the sense of false comfort gives rise to a plethora of anti-versions that take root in the alternative scene. Subculture forms around the shared issues involved within communities and they become tied into one of the larger movements through nature of self similarity. For example hippies often have the same problems no matter where they live, only they manifest in different ways. Bikers may have a different qualm and as people who share similar emotional viewpoints encounter the standardised world around them, their problems will likely manifest in similar circles.
Taking the counter intuitive reasoning behind delivering a burst of unpleasantness via imagery, words, and music appeals to the rebellious and unsatisfied part of the psyche which identifies with the intentions imagined within the media. The individual realises that the media is not designed to be commercial and therefore forms a sense of respect for the courage involved, which latches onto their personal stories of becoming independent in the world as they grow up. Icons begin to represent not only their own work but the feelings and in a metaphorical way, the life stories of those who enjoy them. The punk movement for example gave rise to a massive number of people who dressed and acted in certain ways, and almost everything about it was designed to be anti-consumerism. Ironically, the consumer market had a field trip with it and before long the mainstream caught on.
There comes a time when the media represents a subculture in a greater proportion than real life, and unless at some trendy art school, there is an imbalance in the cultural representation. At this time, the commercial media scene will usually have its own versions of the products that represent the subculture, watered down and tuned in to match the common perception of good. Being out of touch is a 'trade-mark' aspect of the main stream alternative market in the eyes of the alternative scene, one step behind the alternative subcultures, things become fashionable after so long of being new or novel, and as things fade in and out of the consumer's eye, the alternative scene replicates the tide in the opposite direction. Like the sand and the sea, the shapes and patterns shift slightly with each new pass. Eventually, just like the coastline, new forms and areas of interest are created over periods of time.
There is a much greater step than music and clothing, and that is in written media. The written word has the power to travel a long way and when used with imagery in magazines and blogs, hard hitting media can be delivered. Shining a light on the evils of the world and the horrors behind the scenes that no one wants us to think about is a job for a certain few individuals who are brave enough to stick their heads out of the crowd and speak about the issues. Most people don't want to be confronted with the hard and painful truths in the world, and others take it upon themselves to make sure you look. Where as music and film can metaphorically describe things that make people think, like V for Vendetta for example, or the lyrics to certain System of a Down songs, media can simply tell the truth and show you the picture to prove it.
Alternative media doesn't try to sell itself, it just presents itself and sits there to be consumed. The people behind it know that they wont be swept up by the tide of mass consumerism, but they know that a few individuals who are willing to think for themselves will pick up the thoughts and ideas, and put them to use somewhere in their own lives.
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