tribal affiliations

View Two Tribes/Power of Love product details at AmazonSit down, children, let me tell you a story…

Way, way back in the past, near the dawn of the 1980s a BritBand called ‘Frankie Goes To Hollywood’ dropped a single eventually released on the ZTT aka ‘Zang Tumb Tuum’ and ‘Zang Tuum Tumb’ label. That would be Trevor Horn. Mr Art of Noise. What happened next was a feeding frenzy of creativity, the chips and splatters of which are still staining the water today.

Here’s a really quick summary – spot the synchronicity if you can.

The title of the single is ‘Two Tribes’. It’s based on a line from the film Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior – Mel Gibson continues climbing up his career. A video was made by the creative duo Goodley and Creme, showing actors playing Ronald Reagan and the then Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko wrestling – fighting towards the ultimate destruction. There were clips from Richard Nixon and other world leaders, including Lord Beaverbrook, Yasser Arafat and John F. Kennedy. This was 1984 – Margaret Thatcher had swept back to power in the 1983 UK general election, floated on the surge of patriotic sentiment generated from having kneed the Argentinians in the Falklands – and this after the Pope (John Paul II) had visited both the UK and Argentina in 1982. My mate Robert was getting the NZ Airforce to send me recruitment brochures (as if). Apple was nailing the superbowl advertising campaign with the release of the Mac. It was like the wild west. Goodley was later to join Art of Noise; but not before he and Creme made (great) videos for artists such as The Police (Every Breath You Take and others), Duran Duran (Girls on Film), Herbie Hancock (Rockit), and Sting (If You Love Somebody Set Them Free). Strangely, The Police announced their reunion today – and I should’ve mentioned, Goodley and Creme also made the video for the Police’s original Synchronicity II.

Strangely – synchronicity you might say, also today a colleague send me a link that invited me to discover which of the eight tribes I was a member of. From the blurb:

8 Tribes calls an end to the myth of the “typical New Zealander” and gives us a new vocabulary to talk about New Zealand in the twenty first century. This snapshot of contemporary New Zealand explores our unspoken class system and the hidden social boundaries that separate us from each other. Read the book and answer the question “where do I fit in?”

The eight tribes have been named using a very obscure Auckland-centric model – North Shore tribe, Grey Lynn tribe, Papatoetoe tribe, Remuera tribe, and the Otara tribe. And then there’s the rest of the country, perhaps the world – who knows – the Raglan tribe, Cuba Street tribe, and the Balclutha tribe. Splendid. It seems to have all the rigor of a Cosmo questionnaire, but at least it’s not from the ‘boxers or briefs’ school of surveying. Authors Jill Caldwell (a market researcher and social trends analyst) and Christopher Brown (a marketing and communications advisor) have groomed up a fun survey which is at the very least fast to do. It also enables them to harvest your names and email addresses, which can only be a good thing, right?

Turns out I was affiliated with two tribes. The Grey Lynn Tribe – Intellectual –

The Grey Lynn tribe is made up of intellectuals who value ideas more than things. They are well-educated, highly principled, socially aware, culturally sophisticated people. They believe in collective social responsibility, and that individuals should make a difference by making the world a better place.

This growing tribe is increasingly influential within New Zealand. It might not control the big business decisions, but it is ascendant in government – both Parliament and the Public Service are Grey Lynn tribe-dominated institutions. In the private sector, Grey Lynn tribe members are often educators or work in the creative industries.

The Grey Lynn tribe is made up of relatively affluent people with high-paying knowledge-worker jobs. Affluence allows them to live in comfort and to access things they love – art, travel, a vibrant social life, well-made things. But it’s sometimes hard to reconcile your level of affluence with your principles – having so much when the world is a mess. The Grey Lynn tribe’s solution is to seek out authenticity and to craft a life that makes a difference.

And the Cuba Street Tribe – Avant-Garde

The Cuba Street tribe is the avant-garde tribe – the cutting edge of society where trends are made and people live highly creative, rebellious lives. Members of the Cuba Street tribe are the weird ones whose shocking undertakings appal the mainstream, but also fascinate them, and more than likely are the harbingers of the next big shift in what’s acceptable in society.

Cuba Street tribe members are the masters of the new. They’re the culture makers, and in today’s rapidly changing world, that gives this tribe an almost shaman-like aspect. Business, obsessed with “creativity” and “innovation”, loves the creative originality of the Cuba Street tribe. They know that the trends come out of the Cuba Street tribe, and so they’ve embraced it into their heart. These people from the weird side are earning big money as designers, IT techno-wizards and marketing geniuses.

The Cuba Street tribe shares some signature attitudes with the Raglan tribe – most notably in relation to its rejection of the mainstream and the status they draw from their experiences. However, the Cuba Street tribe is unique in the energy it brings to defining itself themselves, an urbanity and focus on the new, and a thirst for experimentation. There’s also the question of age. To get beyond 40 and remain a member of the Cuba Street tribe is a rare achievement. But that’s prime territory for the Raglan Tribe.

I’m flattered by how they describe me – Creative, refined, intellectual, collaborative – and yet in many ways you’re a rebel and an iconoclast. And to think I could be a member of the Cuba Street tribe, given my advanced years – maybe I could be one of the grandfather silverbacks of the Cuba Street guerrillas. 8 Tribes has a summary of the characteristics of the various tribes, or you can do the survey yourself. When they tell you such charming and valuable information it seems a privilege to share your name and email address.

I think the part I liked the most, as seeing as I’ll slurp down anything fragranced with sychronicity, was when I saw the title of the book – 8 Tribes – I was reminded of the song – I ended up be affiliated with two tribes, and then, there on the cover of the book, left hand column – direct from the 80s. Wow. Who knew?

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