i'm quite sure i've made it obvious in my old posts how obsessed i am with british youth culture of the late seventies/early eighties. because let's face facts, the music and the fashion associated with the musical movements of that era pretty much rules like cash does to wu-tang (if you don't get the C.R.E.A.M. reference then you are hopelessly lame).
although musically my inclination tends to lean towards the manchester scene, fashion wise i'm all about the butch-ness of skinheads in all their working-class glory. unfortunately nowadays when someone mentions skinheads, most people just see a swastika. damn those white supremacists for hi-jacking the image of a movement that owes much of its visual identity from the influences black immigrants brought to the u.k. in the seventies. i'm not a sociology professor so i'm gonna leave touchy subjects to someone more qualified to go on about it and talk about how much i love photographer gavin watson instead. a man who grew up at the time of the original skins and who, thank god, had a camera to document it.
in his pictures all i see are kids hanging out, holding hands with their birds, drinking lager at a pub, and causing mayhem like most young people do at that age. instead of looking at the shaved heads, union jacks, and doc martens, all i see are friends being friends and boyfriends with their girlfriends. its not that much different from any of our albums on facebook.
i love the humanity in the photos. i love its naturalness, its youth, its honesty. i know its cliche to say "this photograph really captures a moment", but this is exactly what these photographs do. it makes the reality of that time so obvious. not burdened with the negative connotations the word "skinhead" is now attached to.
with the legacy of skinheads forever tainted by bigots and hate mongers, watson's photographs at least gives us a sliver of what was once was. before the word "hate" cemented itself to the culture.
p.s. yeah i know there are no black people in the pictures above, trust me there are some in his other pictures but i just couldn't find big enough images to use.