Punk: Music, Culture

Punk music is usually loud, fast, angry, and simple. As a music it can be very satisfying, helping vent feelings, inspire, or discuss politics. As a culture, it was generally unsucessful for many reasons I hope to explore.

I was once endlessly attracted to punk culture. I loved the studs, the chains, the rebelliousness, the politics, and the attitude. I got defensive when my friend described punks as "angry hippie dumbasses". Hey, this is who I wanted to be. As I further researched punk culture I came across several condradictions. One: Punks profess to hate elitist jocks/preps, but they are more elitist and punk dress is heavily criticized by other punks more than anyone else (i.e. one time this "real" punk dude scoffed at me for only having two patches on my jacket). Two: Many punks strive to "rise above" greed and the idea of money mentality, while many buy $80 bondage pants, $35 studded belts and other 'more expensive than Gap' items. Three: It's hard to start a movement when everyone spends all their time drunk or on junk. Lastly, most "punks" are suburbanites with Rancid t-shirts (nothing against Rancid, I like Rancid) and mohawks that don't mean a thing. The mohawk was once a symbol of nonconformity and social insurrection, but now is "cool 'cause it's punk", an empty symbol. Punk preaches nonconformism, but forces one to conform to it's standards of dress, attitude, and music.

The above may seem a bit harsh, but don't get me wrong. There are a lot of positive, influential bands and punks out there, but in general, punk is dead and was never sober or accepting enough to matter. Punk had some wonderful ideas, but to "be punk" seems too limiting and conformist to me.


On Saturday, the 14th I went to this open mic at a local music school. Almost all of the bands there were "punk" cover bands. The audience consisted of freshman girls (and a couple guys), all in the heighth of punk fashion. To these rich (or at least upper-middle class) white girls this meant badly dyed hair, ripped fishnet stockings, $100 Doc Martens combat boots, random locks here and there, and enough safety pins to melt down and re-pour as a Geo Metro. They spent the night "skanking" to (new) Green Day radio songs, NOFX, and whatever other crud was played. My point here is that not only was punk destined for failure on its own, but now that it's gotten the pop-culture thumbs up, it's really a joke.