Was the Rolling Stones 1969 Hyde Park Concert crafted using McLuhan’s ideas?

Was this concert crafted using McLuhan’s ideas? Or, is it as it appears, a prime example of a return to tribalism via electronic media? Early in the video, Mick Jagger even speaks about the audience as participants.

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As far as I am able to determine, there is nothing documented that indicates The Rolling Stones were consciously crafting the Hyde Park concert around your father’s ideas. As artists, they were certainly responding to the cultural trends that constituted the focus of his work, so I can understand how it might seem that way. That being said, I did find the following interesting reference to the counter-culture in the Marchand biography.

“If McLuhan was unhappy about the assault on the Church by theological revolutionaries, he was not particularly pleased about the use of his work by cultural revolutionaries such as Abbie Hoffman, who in 1968 was saying, “The Left is too much into Marx, not enough into McLuhan.” When Hoffman published his Revolution for the Hell of It in 1968, McLuhan regarded it simply as a manifesto for the new tribalism. What was absurd, according to McLuhan, was that Hoffman seemed to think it meritorious to embrace this tribalism, when such embrace was almost as automatic, in the new electronic environment, as taking off one’s sweater in a warm room.” (Marchand, 1989, 206-207)

It seems reasonable to assume that the Stones were reading Hoffman and may well have been avid McLuhan-ites. I will certainly ask them if I ever get the chance! By the way, I particularly liked how the automatic nature of the tribal embrace was an issue for [McLuhan]. This makes perfect sense, since he stressed the need to observe the effects, and potential dangers, of new media environments. The tragedy of Altamont, only five months after Hyde Park, would seem to bear this out.

Thomas MacFarlane
Author of The Beatles and McLuhan, Understanding The Electric Age

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Anthony Olszewski

Anthony Olszewski has written on a wide variety of topics: cage birds, tropical fish, popular culture, the poetry of Amiri Baraka and a chapter on genetics for a veterinary text book, as a small sample. He worked as an editor at a magazine produced by TFH, the world's largest publisher of pet books. Anthony Olszewski is the author of a booklet on Hudson County history, Hudson County Facts, and a book of short stories, Second Thief, Best Thief, that are sold on Amazon. Anthony Olszewski established PETCRAFT.com in 1996. A pioneer on the Web, the Site continues to provide unique information on a range of companion animals, focusing on birds and fish. As a community service, he operates Jersey City Free Books. Anthony Olszewski was born in Jersey City, NJ (Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital, 1956) and is a member of Mensa. Email at anthony.olszewski@gmail.com

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