(So, I've decided to return (no big surprise). If my life wasn't already empty and sleep-deprived, it only became more so after I had left. Anyway, here is a new (and credited) article for you all to enjoy. Perhaps this particular article belongs in MusicWorld? Oh, and guess what, I am no longer a minor... today I celebrate my 18th birthday. -IC)
Punk ain't no religious cult,
Punk means thinking for yourself.
You ain't hardcore cos you spike your hair
When a jock still lives inside your head!
This is a subject of particular importance to me, because I am a bit perturbed by seeing little kids dressed like punks, sporting MORE PUNK THAN YOU attitudes in the wake of a contrived second wave of punk rock bands.
In the last few years, American music has nurtured the hatching of many over-commercialized rough edge musical groups in the ALTERNATIVE category. The category that is supposed to be about INDIVIDUALITY. What is it about bands like Rancid and Green Day that piss me off? Anyone?
Glad you asked.
They profit from fabricated images, by appealing to the awestruck nature of their predominantly teeny-bop fan base. The bands get the money and the recognition. In turn they give their fans cool hairstyles and the right to call themselves "punk fans." NOT.
The most outstanding negative characteristic, is the exploitation of the insignificant attributes of the 'scene' that they are said to represent: The dyed hair, the spikes and chains, leather jackets, torn clothing, sneering and SAFETY PINS, SAFETY PINS, SAFETY PINS! Along with that, grew an increasing cloud of wankers that thought that they were more punk than you because they had developed the fašade more effectively.
Now, the concept behind punk, or so I understood, was to get the social outcasts together and vent that "teenage angst" that was being "bottled up." How can an outcast have the ability to isolate another outcast from this collective group of outcasts? Impossible! If punks were outcasts because they were different and didn't fit into conformist society, how could they be so critical of the others? Sheer hypocrisy!
When punk began, it was just another form of music...more harsh and outspoken than the so-called "normal" music that everyone else was listening to. Though some say that the music was based on fashion, the progress of the art went beyond that superficiality. The music became more developed lyrically and as the artists began to express their intelligence, they found their harsh tongues could vacillate between blatant spite and subtle satire and they wouldn't lose credibility. The Dead Kennedys and the Subhumans exemplify the cohesion of youth and intelligence, a phenomenon that was unfamiliar before that period of lyrical ripening.
Pitifully, what appealed to most "punkers", (and what remains the most common memory of the era) were the safety pins and 'boss' hair styles. It was saddening to see the overplayed punk rock fashion in major department strores. Brand new torn clothing held together with safety pins, at inflated prices. Weren't real punks supposed to be poor? You know, squatters...kids from the tenements and the like? Where did a punk get the money to buy a leather jacket? (Or did they just steal them?)
Today I see the same problem. Thrift Store style clothing sold at Macy's. Prime example: The garage mechanic's jacket with the name patch and (fake) logos - $85 at Macy's. You can get the jacket with REAL logos at a thrift store for $5. Trendy stores make BILLIONS off of your "underground" fashions. Remember, the fashion industry is unimaginitive. They let the kids design the clothing for them. If you all look differently, they can't copy you. If you can't make money just by looking like YOU, why should they?
There are different views on the derivation of punk. The most common compromise suggests that it is derived from some of the music from the 60s hard-rock era, with reggae, ska and blues influences.
To me, the blues influence is the most prominent. Punk rock was the blues for the youths. (Pardon the rhyme.)
I have long argued that some gangsta rap artists, like NWA, Eazy-E, ATL and Ice-T are the next progression of the punk-rock legacy. More on that in another essay/letter.
So, where is your SOUL, blues fans?
Kids, do you want to make mouths drop? Show adults that you really are intelligent. That will stun them enough. Speak to people with respect and courtesy if they haven't proven to be an idiot. Later on you will have opportunities to prove just how punk you are. Life should be: 90% - Just being yourself and 10% - Demolishing the unrealistic expectations of the boring people.
The next time you dye your hair, try wearing a suit instead of torn jeans and the leather jacket that you got for Christmas. They won't know how to prejudge you. That's what you want. The slate is clean.
Statements are made to be heard. Speak clearly.
(That sounds like it could be a slogan for an expensive pair of sports sneakers.)