Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Final Death of Punk Rock

I am an old guy, let me get that out of the way.

I was around for, and part of what has now become the earlier years of Punk Rock. I still sort of keep up with what passes for Punk these days, but what passes for it is not always what it really is. There are some great, truly underground bands out there, but by and large, Punk has become another marketing term. It has been reduced to a catch phrase to hang on the Jonas Brothers, or to silk screen on Mrs. Montana's shirt.

In the early 90's, Grunge brought a breath of fresh air into the Punk/Hardcore scene, but it too was doomed to die. This was a great period in music history, however by the latter part of the decade, it was clear that music was becoming a vast desert of identical sounding musicians driven by corporate marketing. Most of the real "punks" drifted off into things like Rockabilly and swing, which many have always considered to be closer to their roots anyway, or just dropped out.

These days, myself, and others like me are well into our middle age. The subcultural impulse remains to be part of a group, and many have transitioned into things like Hot Rod culture, and other pseudo-grown up endeavors. There are still some vestiges of true underground left, but most of this is related to the Rockabilly, Darkwave or Gothic/Industrial subculture, which most of the youth don't seem to care for as a whole. It seems like only the old farts and more Avant Garde are interested in it. The old Punk network is dead for all intent and purposes. In the old days, It was possible to go to ANY city, and find a place to crash with the local punks. Not so any longer. They are just as likely to be looking for a place to crash themselves, if you can find them.

In the beginning, we were what we were because we simply were not like everyone else. It did not matter what you wore, because you were just "different" fundamentally. The best analogy is to compare the Hell's Angels to the current crop of chopper wannabes. Growing up, I knew people who were literally so different from regular people they had no category for them. The catch all category was "punk". The world had literally never seen anything like us. We had no support, and did it all by ourselves.

In the early 21st century, we are finding ourselves in the midst of a youth culture that does not seem to care about the things that got us so steamed up back in the early days. Normally, you have to pass the torch in a relay, but in this case, the torch appears to have been dropped. When a 'tween star like Avril Lavigne can pass for a punk, there really is no purpose any longer. For the price of short drive and some green from Mom, you can go to the nearest "punk rock" retail store and buy whatever you need to fit in. I find it both disturbing and slightly entertaining that they still market this word "Punk" in the 21st century.

Gone are the days of the Punk Squat, the deparavity and taboo busting. The breaking of rules for the sheer joy of rule breaking. Style seems to have won over substance.

Alas, it seems my generation is destined to go the way of the Hippy.

I found an interesting article about this and the development of retail "punk" stores like Hot Topic. These stores have helped accelerate the demise of this culture, unbeknown to many who patronize them.

You can read it here...

I am done griping like an old man. You can move along now...

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