Authenticity and Community in the Postmodern Spectacle: Lollapalooza as Alternative Representation

Open Access
Smith, Creig Allen
Area of Honors:
Media Studies
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Charles Elavsky, Thesis Supervisor
  • Jeanne Hall, Honors Advisor
  • Matthew Jackson, Faculty Reader
  • music festival
  • authenticity
  • community
  • postmodernism
This paper broadly examines notions of authenticity and community as they intersect in the music industry, particularly through the concept of the music festival. In seeking to understand these concepts’ relation to society, the paper briefly overviews some of the tenets of the theory of postmodernism that underlie notions of authenticity and community. These ideas often come in conflict with the dominant, spectacular representations in society. Next, in trying to apply these concepts as represented in the idea of the music festival, it maps the early framework of the original Lollapalooza festivals as notable breaks in the spectacle, defining authenticity and community in an era otherwise indifferent to those concepts. With its antecedent clearly mapped, the paper then examines the role of the reincarnated Lollapalooza festivals and its possibilities to expand on the original’s framework. Arguing that the new Lollapalooza reveals the ways in which the alternative can be collapsed into the larger spectacle, the paper finally examines the corporate censorship of 2007 headliner Pearl Jam, and how this act stands as antithetical to the original festivals’ intentions.