Just spent a few hours this morning being interviewed for a 3rd year Media Studies student project about modified-car culture, the scene and street racing. The footage will be edited as part of a website. The students were interested in the issue because of the recent minor-scale moral panic about street racing.
Part of the advice I gave to the students was to frame their work in terms of the scene, rather than framing it as an exploration of street racing per se. This circumvents a number of questions relating to the identity of enthusiasts/street racers and street racing as a practice. I don’t define the identity of enthusiasts in terms of some quality that they exhibit or perform, but in terms of how they participate in the scene and what events they are part or and belong to.
A perspective on the scene would locate street racing as an event alongside other events. This would address one of the core issues regarding the identity of street racers, are they ‘proper’ enthusiasts who also race or ‘non-enthusiasts’? I suggested that needed to think of most forms of spontaneous and semi-organised street racing as an extension of the show or display function of the culture, where ‘showing off’ is central, rather than part of the ‘racing’ part of the scene, which occurs at official drag strips and the like. The nature of the practice shifts from actual racing with various sets of meanings and expectations to an extension of the performative practices of enthusiasts in cruising and showing off (i.e. the territorialisation or ‘winning’ of space).
Part of this means interviewing other people who have a stake in the scene, but wouldn’t be recognised as enthusiasts as such. They normally help run or invest in the infrastructure of the scene. It is the infrastructure of the scene that allows certain events to be held.
I also talked about the related need to think about the definition of the problem of hoons, rather than simply assuming the nature of the problem.
The website is an assessment for them and has to be done by mid-October. They said they would send me a link, so I’ll post it here when I get it.