You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970 Reflection


In December last year I submitted an essay as part of my cultural and critical studies module. This essay was looking at the how the information presented in text at an exhibition supports the key ideas and concepts presented within an object on display. The exhibition I chose to analyse for my essay was “You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970” which was hosted at the V&A, which looked at the many revolutions that occurred in the sixties and their influence on fashion, music, film, design and political movements. The focus of my essay was a series of four psychedelic posters by ‘Haphash and the Coloured Coat’, I analysed how the information presented in text supported the ideas of psychedelia, the influence of psychedelic drugs at the time, and how members of society in the sixties were searching for new ways of freeing their mind.

Today I was given by my essay along with my grade which was a B. I am very proud of this grade as it had been a year since I last wrote an essay and I initially struggled trying to structure and word my essay in a cohesive, reflective and analytical way. There will be another essay brief set in semester 2 and I am hopeful that after writing this essay and reading the feedback given to me, the next essay will be a lot easier.

Direct Feedback

“Good image analysis and very good essay structure. However, the quality of the discussions focusing on the chosen theme needs to be improved by drawing upon academic sources.”

In order to improve my essay it was suggested that I utilise my sources more. I listed books in my bibliography however I did not use them fully within my essay which will help to strengthen my discussions. Furthermore within my essay there were places where I included factual information but did not reference the sources.

General Feedback

After receiving our essays with personal directed feedback attached, we had a short lecture on general feedback and areas for improvement.

Improving on a grade B

  • Consistently introduce quotes and significant authors
  • Write an essay plan (think through your line of enquiry, how will you meet all of the brief criteria and the order of material)
  • Use images and your analysis of them to clearly support your line of enquiry
  • Make sure for every point or assertion you provide evidence in the form of a quote, reference or an image
  • Include summary sentences through out that link back to your line of enquiry / to the question you are answering (an introductory sentence and concluding sentence for each idea / paragraph)
  • Reflect upon the limitations and implications of the references and interpretations you are including (how the sources could be developed, include other sources to support your analysis)
  • Leave time to do a close read of your document to check for spelling errors, grammar and informal language
  • Caption your images to influence the readers interpretation in time with your argument

Improving on a grade A

Despite achieving a grade B I also noted down the points for improving on a grade A for future reference.

  • Be aware of your reader, make sure you are clearly communicating every point to your reader
  • Keep bringing your reader clearly back to your line of enquiry
  • Make sure you have a good bibliography, including a number of current references (the last year or two) and a range of sources
  • Clearly and consistently integrate images into your analysis to support your line of enquiry
  • Caption your images to influence the readers interpretations in line with your argument

Six Cowboys


Marlboro Cowboy


As a small group of three we were tasked to analyse an assigned image, our groups is pictured above, using two of the four critical approaches taught to us in our lectures which are as follows; material culture analysis, historical analysis, feminist theory and queer theory. We had to analyse the image by thinking about how that figure represents masculinity.


Lady With a Mouthpiece Cigarette

What our group discovered about Marlboro brand is that initially it was advertised towards women as Marlboro were selling filtered cigarettes. However their advertising strategy changed after a major report was published in the early 1950s linking smoking to lung cancer. To combat the decline in cigarette sales many brands began promoting their cigarettes as safer than others, and quickly filtered cigarettes were perceived as the safest. However men were still reluctant to buy Marlboro filtered cigarettes as they were still seen as feminine.

Created by the advertising executive Leo Burnett, the Marlboro man advertisements were used from 1954 to 1999 in the US. These adverts included archetypal masculine characters, primarily cowboys, with a Marlboro cigarette. Cowboys at the time were popular and a symbol of masculinity, and within a year the brands market shares went from less to 1% to 4th best selling brand. Later on they stepped away from using actors and began to use real working cowboys seen preforming their working tasks, by 1972 Marlboro was the leading brand in the cigarette industry.


John Wayne

The reason the Marlboro Man was so successful was due to him representing masculinity and the values related to it. He was tough, self sufficient, hardworking and rugged, and stood for reason, independence and liberty, which were all values associated with cowboys at the time. By depicting this character smoking Marlboro cigarettes these traits are imbued into the product and sales rose as men purchased these cigarettes due to their desire to also be seen possessing these traits.

Due to our research we discovered that the material culture analysis and feminist theory perfectly suited each other as the branding of the product was changed from feminine to masculine through the use of cowboys which were idolised in popular culture during that time period. As a result of this we presented our material culture analysis and feminist theory analysis not as two separate categories but as one fluid analysis.

The feedback we received was very positive, our seminar tutor was impressed with how our research dictated what approaches we chose and how we decided to present our findings as one fluid piece and not as two separate approaches. She did however suggest we analyse the images themselves more, for example what visual signifiers are present in the images that help to back up our findings.

High Society: Mind-Altering Drugs in History and Culture

High Society: Mind-Altering Drugs in History and Culture by Mike Jay, 1959

“‘High Society’ explores the spectrum of drug use across the globe and throughout history, from its roots in animal intoxication to its future in designer neurochemicals” 

As part of my research for my cultural and critical studies essay I looked to this book for information. My essay was based on psychedelic posters and psychedelic drugs such as acid, therefore this book was very useful in helping me to gain a better insight into the effects, history and cultural use of acid. However once I had finished my research I decided to continue reading the entire book as I found the information provided highly interesting. I have always had an interest in the mind altering affects of drugs and how plants and chemicals can change our perception of the world and experience, also how they have helped to shape history and culture, therefore this book was well suited to me.

The book explores the use of drugs throughout history and various cultures. It covers a range of drugs such as LSD, cocaine, laughing gas, marijuana, coffee, and tobacco and shows how throughout history the use of recreational drugs has come to fruition, with initially drugs only be used as medicine and any effects caused that were not seen as curing the patient or were unwanted (e.g. hallucinations) were ignored. Once scientists began exploring these drugs for their additional properties, their use recreationally in society began to expand. However there are exceptions to this, such as the tribes throughout the world who had been using natural plants recreationally or for spiritual purposes for years e.g. Shamans using ayahuasca to engage with spirits.

This book is highly informative and approaches the topic from a variety of perspectives, from detailed descriptions of the drugs and their effects, to their history and creation, how they impacted society and culture, and how drugs will continue to impact society in the future. It has helped me to understand how society has changed over the years due to drugs which I had previously not considered, they have influences governments, trading, laws and many other factors of society which have lead to civilisations being as they are today. My perspective of the world has been changed due to this book as it has opened my eyes to how industries, which I initially would not have thought to have had an effect, changes history and society and in the future I will continue to think of topics on a larger scale and what impact they may have.

You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970


Exhibition Photograph by Danielle Wightman-Stone, 2016


‘You Say you Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970’ is an exhibition currently being hosted at the V&A in London up until 26th February 2017. This exhibition explores the main revolutions that took place in sixties and how they affected society at the time and continue to do so today. The exhibition covers all aspects key to society at the time, including fashion, music, film, design and political movements.

The reason for visiting this exhibition was to seek inspiration and collect primary research for use in our cultural and critical studies essay on how the information presented in text supports the key ideas and concepts presented within a piece of exhibited work. Regardless of the nature of the trip I found this exhibition to be extremely interesting personally and very informative. It was unlike an art exhibition, which is what I was initially expecting and was more like a museum exhibit due to the fact it was laid out chronologically and covered a wide variety of mediums.


CIA UFO by Haphash and the Coloured Coat, 1976

Before attending the exhibition I knew very little about the sixties other than hippies and psychedelic drugs and art. This exhibition however allowed me to see the origins of many social movements that are present today, such as issues to do with feminism and racism. As well as how what was happening at the time affected music, fashion, film and design. What I found particularly interesting about the exhibition was the psychedelic posters on display and how they embodied the free thinking attitude embraced by many members of society, also the influence of psychedelic drugs which were very popular at the time. I have chosen a series of these psychedelic posters produced by the design group ‘Haphash and the Coloured Coat’ for analysis within my essay.