Twenty First Century Punk
No, I won’t be the first person to discuss this nor the last. But, I’m going to take a stab at addressing what is Punk in 2011 and if there really is such a thing. Punks tend to me much stricter and self analyzing compared to other subcultures, like say hippies. When was the last time you heard a hippy say, “dude, you’re not a Deadhead man, when was your first dead show?”
So keeping that in mind, I suppose I should represent before I toss my hat into the pit. I saw my first punk show in 1982 (Proletariat) outside ofBoston. I witnessed a guy take a fistful of spikes to his face and get rushed to the hospital. So since I’ve been punk longer than most of you kids with the trendy haircuts have been alive, and I guess you can all, hmmm, just shut up and listen.
So first off, what is Punk, or who is a punk? Again this is harder to pin down than with most other sub-cultures. Punks can drink until they are puking on stage or die with a needle in their arm, but conversely have also, besides AA, started up the second most influential anti-drug movement inAmerica, Straight-edge. Punks can enjoy embracing the ignorance, while they are living in the gutter or they can be motivated into politics and putting out well thought out Zines. When it comes to music, songs range from trying to make the world a better place, to just flipping it off. What is even considered Punk music is open to such a wide interpretation that I’d rather leave that subject to T-Ballz.
Now, I’m not trying to hammer at the whole, ‘Punks Not Dead’ paradigm, but I would like to dive into a few considerations. First off, one could argue that Punk is now officially 35 years old. Think about it, yep 35 years old. Again, don’t get me wrong, personally, I enjoy seeing young punks, if a group of three fifteen year old kids with mohawks walk by me, it will always bring a secret smile to my face. However, I also remember being with groups of punks railing on hippies, saying they were behind in the times and should be trying something new. If you are copying a hair cut that was happening 20 years ago, sorry kids, that isn’t too new.
Although one could argue for the universal message such a haircut conveys. “I’m going out of my way to reject your norm and stand against a mainstream concept of conformity.” I can respect this. Yet… Punk has become a tribe. I respect and enjoy this as well. When I was younger, I could go to any city in theUS, meet some punks, and find a party within the day. This is great and good, no wonder people like it. Yet… if I have a whole tribe backing up my ‘non-conformity’ that sure makes it easier, doesn’t it. Others might be put off, but I can just fall in step with folks all overAmericathat reinforce my choice.
I’m not sure about you, but I think this lessens not only the image of rebellion, but also the sacrifice for doing so. Today a real rebel would be doing something no one else does and chances are even the punks wouldn’t have his or her backs. You want to be a real rebel? Show up to school wrapped in blinking Christmas lights or wear a Masi warrior blanket into the cafeteria. Sorry, folks, but that would be way punker than being the 4,875th guy to get a mohawk in northern AZ.
Like him or hate him, Phil of ‘I hate You When You Were Pregnant’ is punk as hell in this respect. His ‘band’ and I use the term loosely here, may not be what people consider ‘punk music’ but his concept is very punk. Certainly more punk than being a sixtieth band inFlagstaffto shave your head and sing “the government sucks, give me a beer.”
So, this brings up the question, who is more punk, the guy with the tattered jeans and bi-fins that is spanging change for smokes or the dude wearing the sweater mom bought him while he is writing his subversive Zine? What really is punk and why would anyone want to be Punk? And perhaps more importantly, why has the culture/concept/trend or punk lingered within our culture for so long? Well you’ll have to turn in for the next half to have those questions answered.
And this could leave you wondering whether I have answered anything yet…