So, I’ve been thinking about this for a while and something on one of the stupid message boards I frequent prompted me to go all out and do this right. I’ll probably be bouncing around like a madman, unless Tara can somehow put this together in a sensible manner.Too often I hear about how pop punk radio bands are killing punk rock, and I agreed with it to a large extent for a while. Then I thought about it, like actually gave it some real thought as opposed to just going “they’re dragging the word punk through the mud.” Thinking about what punk means to me, what it’s down points are, and what strengths it has maintained since its inception.In this I’m going to be saying “Punk is this” or “Punk is that,” I’m not claiming that this is some form of absolute, or that what my definitions are, are the only ones. This is simply my point of view on the matter. My opinions are ones that I”ve formed in the 9 years that I”ve been involved in it, and have changed greatly in the last year or years, whatever. Don’t come to me complaining about how punk is really something other than what I’m going to state it is. If you don’t agree with something that I say it is fine, like I said, this isn’t some dogma stating what punk is, or what you have to believe to be punk. The following are my opinions on the current state of punk rock, hardcore, pop punk and all things that fall under the umbrella that is the punk scene. It’s nothing more, nothing less. One person who considers themselves a punk, and has always felt a deep attachment to the “scene”.
Punk is and always has been something in a state of constant evolution, bands change, the music changes, the specifics of the counter-cultural and revolutionary portions of it change, but it has always strived to make the world a better place. Through raising political awareness to changing social opinions on acceptable fashion, punk has always tried to make an impact on the society that surrounds it.
Since punk first came about, it’s always been a place for people who don’t fit in with their peers. This was a place where people can go to be themselves without fear of retribution for being different. Or at least, that’s what it was supposed to be. The fact that the punk scene is so filled with conformists and fashion police is repulsive. When I first got into the scene, it was a place where I could go and find people who thought along the same lines that I did, that weren’t going to pick fights with me for dressing differently, for speaking my mind, or for listening to weird music. It was what it claimed to be. It was a place where I could go and feel like I wasn’t wrong.
After a few years of being involved in it I began hanging out with older punks, who began to tell me what punk was and like any other idiot kid wanting to be accepted by the cool kids, I fell in line and became what they wanted me to be. I was just another asshole who thought that if you didn’t act like one of us, you were some idiot poseur kid who wouldn’t know punk if it came up to him and spat in his face whilst chanting “Oi! Oi! Fuck the system!!” I was just another conformist in a scene that prided itself on being anti-conformist and anti-society.
This kind of shit is what is killing punk rock. Not the fact that the popular music media has decreed that bands like Blink 182 or Sum 41 are punk. The idea that mainstream pop music has such a large effect on a subculture, whose roots are supposedly anti society, is preposterous. The concept that anyone within the punk scene who is actually devoted to it as more than just a thing to do for a summer would consider mainstream media’s ideas of what is or is not punk rock is unbelievable. Why anyone thinks that it’s a threat to our way of life, or whatever, is beyond me. I see no way that it’s killing punk in any way, shape or form. It’s completely independent of the punk scene. How can it have an effect on it?
People that are not within the culture have always had fucked up views about what punk rock is, and will continue to do so, as long as there is punk rock. The media will continue to attempt to create the misconception that punk rock is a bunch of people who are pissed off for no reason and choose to take it out on the world by dressing funny. Or it will attempt to comercialise it and present it as nothing more than bubblegum for the masses. Another happy genre of radio friendly shit.
Anyone who’s involved within the punk scene can quite easily dismiss both of those claims as baseless due to the fact that we do have something to be pissed off about and that there is an inherent threat behind punk to society.
The only threat to punk comes from within itself. Years of fashion outshining the message behind the music is what’s killing punk. The bands that so many punks flock to are the ones that are aiding its demise.
Years of violently enforced apathy and the backlash against any political views that was spurred out of the whole PC movement have bred the threat out of the movement. Punk cannot exist on 40’s and skateboards alone. There is a need for politics and a desperate need to change things. The world is a fucked up place and there are things that are much more important than what society thinks punk means.
While I don’t agree with all PC beliefs, it’s a movement with its heart in the right place. It at least has tried to keep some of the focus that made punk as a culture necessary, Politics are an integral part of punk rock. What’s the point of having a movement dedicated to change, that wants to keep itself stagnant in ways that started 20+ years ago? Society is not the same place as it was back then and punk shouldn’t be either.
I don’t want to pick an easy target, but I’m going to wear the shoe that fits, so I’ll pick on the band that for some reason gets so much respect within such a large portion of the punk scene.
The Casualties are killing punk rock.
Songs about getting drunk and having a good time are awesome. I like hearing them, and I like singing along with them. But, they’re not going to change a goddamn thing. Neither is enforcing a dogmatic code on people who need some refuge from a shitty home life, or school, or whatever it is that causes them to have angst against a fucked up society. Elitism and rigid rules about what is punk is what’s made punk for a large part irrelevant.
A friend of mine recently got back from a trip to Philledelphia and was talking about the fact that all the punks down there had these political beliefs that they stood very strongly for. They had beliefs that were bigger than just the concerns within our own subculture. What amazed me was how truly rare this is these days. Kids are more concerned now, with who is wearing what shirt or is sleeping with who or whatever than what fucked up shit is happening on the other side of the world or within their own cities. The rules of punk rock have been established and you’ll be damned if you sing about anything other than spikey hair, police brutality, up the punks or life on the street. If you want to deviate from this then go and join the pc hippy vegan collective that is the crust/thrash scene, is the prevailing attitude.
Maybe we need to fix ourselves from the inside out, but forcing everyone to be the same when that’s what we’re trying to get away from isn’t going to fix anything.
What happened to wanting to change the world? What happened to wanting society to realise that not everyone is going to fall in line? When did falling in line become something so crucial to ones existence within the punk scene? Why is apathy so accepted, if not expected, within it?
Punks are so quick to slag off pop punk bands because they have no substance, and are doing nothing for punk rock; meanwhile they’re listening to some band that’s talking about nothing more complex than their footwear. I don’t know about you, but I’d say that my love life and all its fucked-up’ed-ness is more important to me than how many holes my boots have. What’s really lacking substance here? Or is it just jealousy? I don’t know. Punks are always complaining about these bands that lack substance, but as soon as someone puts something back into it it’s instantly lobbed off to the side to lie within the pile of discarded hippy anarcho-commie clap trap that is political punk rock.
The hypocrisy that is so rife within punk rock has got to stop. People have to realise that in order to continue and make the changes that we all claim to so desperately want to see in society happen, that we need to get rid of the apathy that is so prevalent. We need to stop slagging people off instantly just because they have strong political beliefs, we need to stop this bullshit enforced conformity and let people be themselves. We need to regain the focus that we once had. That we need to remember that there is more of a reason for our combined existence within a subculture than just a place to go get drunk with people who like the same kind of music as us.
Punk is a powerful weapon, and has helped force society into accepting difference in a lot of ways. No longer do people get shit-kicked for walking down the street with blue hair, or at least not as much. Kids don’t get expelled from school for having a ring in their nose. People don’t care as much if you’re wearing some band shirt with some disturbing picture on it. Some people think this is a bad thing; I fail to see how it is. It’s quite obvious to me that it just means that at least one of the original goals punk had has come close to completion. We’ve forced society to acknowledge that if nothing else, we can dress like we want to and it’s not a bad thing.
This is a far cry from all that was set out on. But it’s a start. If we can just regain focus things may continue for another 20 years and punk may accomplish another few goals in righting the wrongs of a society that has attempted to break your spirits at every turn.