Low Rider Culture and “No Cruise Zones” in California.

Originally published at: Low Rider Culture and "No Cruise Zones" in California. | Boing Boing


Yah isn’t it interesting how cruising was a huge thing for white people in the ‘50s and 60’s which also included plenty of gang activity. Hell, George Lucas made a whole movie about it. No laws were made against it.

Suddenly a few years later when brown people want to cruise in their cars, “no cruising” laws appear everywhere overnight.

Low riders are awesome. Long live them in all their metal flake airbrushed hydraulic glory.


Well, that was just boys being boys! Harmless fun for teens! /s

I will say, though, that there was indeed a moral panic over this… it’s just we more often than not today see it through the lens of, say, American Graffiti or Happy Days rather than how people at the time were seeing it. It played into a series of congressional hearings, for example in the 50s…

Even the media of the time was concerned with it…

And of course, a lot of this was set off by rock, with a fear of white teens consuming Black culture, but not just that…

hip hop car GIF


Oh fascinating, thank you! I did not know that! There’s something so silly and anachronistic about congressional hearings over “kids today”. :joy:


Yeah, in hindsight it seems silly, but they were deadly serious back then… there were book and record burnings during some of this stuff… It’s a pretty fascinating bit of pop culture history…

And that doesn’t even get to the reaction to American mass culture in the Eastern Bloc! You should check out Jazz, Rock and Rebels by Uta Poiger, which examines the approaches to Western pop culture in the two Germanies…


That’s true, they had a moral panic about that. It’s when they banned switch blades and created the Comics Code Authority was enacted, because comic books were making kids into deranged killers. /s

It was largely romanticized when the Baby Boomers got old enough to make media about it. (Can you believe I STILL haven’t seen American Graffiti? What is wrong with me?) And now instead of fearing Greasers, I think they are cool because of Fonzi. Ayyyeee!


I mean, yeah that’s exactly what they thought, so I’m not sure about the /s there? I assume to indicate that you’re aware that that is bullshit… Which…

Good For You Thumbs Up GIF by paidoff

I’ve said this about punk, too (punk panic of the 80s), but these sorts of moral panics had real consequences to varying degrees, that we can kind of laugh about now, but had a real impact on people’s lives. As @VeronicaConnor noted, this ended up having an even more measurable impact on young people of color, as the banning of cruising was connected with gang culture and is connected to the rise of the new Jim Crow…

And people scoffed at me for studying pop culture! This stuff matters people!


Yeah, you were supposed to read the last part in a sarcastic voice. “OH no, I read a comic book and now I want to kill someone!”

I lived through the Satanic Panic where people told me D&D was a Satanic game, as well as things like heavy metal and their branding. It even worked on me to a degree, as I remember being wary of heavy metal and satanic imagery as a kid, but after discovering My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult as a teen, that went right out the window.


Reminds me of…


Not just you! :face_with_monocle: But yeah, that was all tied up with the punk panic happening at the same time… Just fits an older pattern that’s been happening since the rise of mass culture more generally, where adults (some) freak out over some aspect of mass culture, and then demand that “something be done”… I think we often soft-peddling that as some weird reaction that is funny now, but in reality, this drove lots of really dangerous over-reactions. In this case of Low Riders, the targeting of youth of color for greater policing.


That movie certainly won’t change your opinion about Greasers. Suffice it to say, Lucas has very very rose coloured glasses about ‘60s California cruising culture. A documentary, it ain’t. I guess it counts for something that he acknowledged the gang presence at all.


This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.