Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Punk This

I have never been a punk, nor called myself one (I've never personally felt I was a member of *any* subcultures, though I have been accepted and embraced by several), but I was very close to Punk Rock when I was a kid. Even fifteen years ago, I bit my tongue and scoffed at people who insisted they were "punk", or that it wasn't dead. Even then it seemed pretty funny to me - like those in my age bracket who dressed like hippies twenty years late.

But thirty years after a movement which had designed itself to exterminate itself quickly rather than allow itself to become the aged self-parody exemplified by little eighties flowerbabies like myself, the mass delusion that those under the age of thirty not only get the point, but also miss that that point related to "live fast/die young" even to the extent of not dragging on for three generations' breadth now, the word still makes a buck, so Avril Lavigne still is apparently considered relevant someow to it.

As to all of which: eh, *meh*. Whatever, kids, have at it, it's no skin off me.

So why am I posting, all puffed up and superior, about These Kids Today (and their sad co-opting of something which actually wasn't all that new even back "when I was your age") ... ?

Because I was struck, reading this - of all people, Barbara Mikkelson, expressing punk rock clearly and just about correctly in a single sentence. To wit:

The style was brash, defiant, and angry, as were those who adopted it - young people who were disgusted by the few crumbs society appeared to have to offer them, and so decided to openly reject IT ALL.
Now, I have to say, quite a few of her other sentences are a bit sillier on the point, though I won't condemn them as being as oblivious as a Hot Topic wannabe poseur. (Please note that there is an intensity of facetiousness in this moment of geriatrical snobbery.)

The final two words here (capitalized emphasis mine) sort of boil down the reasons "punk is alive" is a statement which kind of embarrasses people old enough to have watched it change from a "scene" into a fashion statement (and see again/also the commerce behind punk's supposed continued survival in this format).

I saw a girl, probably twenty-one years old, wearing a The Exploited t-shirt a week ago. I had to stifle a laugh. I saw The Exploited once; they were a gang of hacks who genuinely angered the crowd of kids who had paid to see them play - dismissed as commercial opportunistic style hags, and "idiot-holes" to boot. They were the most extraordinarily rotten performers I ever remember seeing (and I have seen some losers; I was a lead singer's girlfriend for years in the eighties). They were absolute, no-holds-barred jerks, and the audience couldn't MAKE enough fun of their stupid-colored standup mohawks. The lead singer swung his mic, hit the bass player, KNOCKED OUT A TOOTH, and proceeded to be a tool about it.

And what opportunistic style hags' TEE SHIRTS are now apparently selling, to delusional teenagers?


What I'm saying.

Mikkelson's other points, regarding gender particularly, in the context of "Establishment", are pretty interesting. For my purposes, they're beside the point, but I'm often struck by the completist approach Snopes does give to diversity and feminism too. Good on 'em for that. And for that one good sentence about REJECTING IT ALL.

No comments: