Arts & Media Graduate Programme: Beyond Beatlemania: The Shea Stadium Concert as Discursive Construct
On August 15, 1965, the Beatles played to a crowd of over 55,000 of their fans at the Shea Stadium in New York City. Five decades later, the history-making show is remembered less for the band’s thirty minute music set than for how it was drowned out by the crowd’s deafening din (Millard 2012, 25). In actuality, however, there are, however, three Shea Stadium events: one in 1965 (documented on television), another in 1966, and the third a more mythic, discursive entity. This talk examines the last of these – Shea Stadium as a discursive construct, one which came to symbolize the way that popular music fandom had entered the public sphere as a collective and emotional phenomenon. Shea has been was framed by notions of parasocial interaction to suggest that young fans did not care about music and instead ‘worshipped’ band members as hero figures. In deconstructing the discursive Shea Stadium, Mark's aim is to rescue the event from its own history. The concert enabled the Beatles to secure their place in the emergent rock revolution and position themselves as a more serious, ‘adult’ and ‘music’ orientated band. Yet it has also become a cornerstone of stereotypical perceptions of music fandom in the public sphere.