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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Punk's In Again? Finally!

My new arch foe Ratface linked to this article, teased with "A spate of upcoming documentaries shows that a movement some had declared dead may be newly relevant for today's youth". And as we all know, documentaries are slaves to fact and objectivity.

It's full of the usual trend humping and wishful thinking - activist journalism applied to pop culture. I've been listening to this music since 1974. How it ranks in Faith Popcorn's trend reports has never concerned me. Some years are better than others but punk ain't going nowhere kids. It'll always be with us, like rap (unfortunately) and Abe Vigoda (more god than man).

As usual, the article pretends punk was and is always about "something". Having musicians explain themselves is as useful as a five year old waxing poetic on the meaning of life. If I've said this once, I've said it at least one time: anyone who tells you they know what punk is and what it stands for is lying to you. Here's a flying wet diaper right now:

Steven Blush, the author of "American Hardcore: A Tribal History," the book on which one of the documentaries is based, agrees that part of the attraction of punk was that it never allowed itself to be co-opted. "In a world where everything is a sellout, a TV commercial, a blur of Hollywood nonsense, it's the one thing that stands as pure."
Oh my god. They interviewed unreadable Marxist theorist Dick Hebdige, whose book on punk is the most impenetrable rape of paper and ink ever. Here's a typical line: "This is not to say that semiotics was easily assimilable within the Cultural Studies project. Though Barthes shared the literary preoccupations of Hoggart and Williams, his work introduced a new Marxist 'problematic' which was alien to the British tradition of concerned and largely untheorized 'social commentary'".

In the article Dick spouts:

"We're now in a hands-off culture of the World Wide Web," says Dick Hebdige, the cultural theorist and UC Santa Barbara film studies professor who wrote the punk anthropological bible, "Subculture: The Meaning of Style," in 1979. "There's [an underlying] desire to get down and dirty. Punk is about rolling in the dirt in the darkness to become strong."

"Punk is about rolling in the dirt in the darkness to become strong". Once again, oh my god. Can't you just smell the mental manure? He makes a very good living putting random words together. His book is here called a "punk anthropological bible". I'm staring at the screen now, unable to come up with words to accurately describe how horribly wrong that is on every level.

6 Comments:

Blogger Robert G. said...

Well, thank you very much for reminding me of Hebdige. The first 25 pages of that book = 1 hour of my life that I'll never get back.

All right, an hour and a half; I'm a slow reader.

Then I moved on to Simon Frith. I have since learned to deny my masochistic side.

7:28 PM

 
Blogger tescosuicide said...

Destroy by Alvin Gibbs is pretty good... never really touches on the how and why. I do like American Hardcore but I agree; I don't need someone telling me what Punk is. I'm kinda late to the scene, '83. I have found that just about any book you read on this subject pretty much sucks as soon as the author decides he's the final answer. It is nice to get some different views on band profiles and life in the ruins.

and I love this line -

" I've been listening to this music since 1974. How it ranks in Faith Popcorn's trend reports has never concerned me. Some years are better than others but punk ain't going nowhere kids."

3:21 AM

 
Blogger tescosuicide said...

BTW, you being a New Yorker... this line (in your linked article) has to hurt!

"Darby came back from London with this huge mohawk after meeting Adam Ant. He started the whole mohawk thing."

3:26 AM

 
Blogger Emerson said...

Hey, leave Adam Ant alone! Not only was he pretty, he invented Adamantium. Wolverine rocks!

Adam Ant's only other accomplishment was making Sting look better as an actor.

6:04 AM

 
Blogger Ratface said...

i found some old punk's blog on myspace about steve-o's death. He concluded that punk was about change, but not in the hippy way! So why would should punks be drunks and addicts and die that way-we set out to make progress but are doing as crappy of a job as the hippies.

7:41 AM

 
Blogger Sean Pelette said...

The closest I can come to a definition of punk is Its when you slamdance not when you mosh

8:31 AM

 

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