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Punk And Post-Punk Subcultures Essay, Research Paper Punk And Post-Punk Subcultures Essay, Research Paper It's 1990 and many people say punk is dead. Others say punk is still dying. Still others say the story of rock and roll is nearly over. Such people have at least learned one thing from punk: they have adopted the same blind pessimism that caused so many bands to burn out so quickly.Many believers of this theory often see only the superficial qualities of the subculture made visible through the mass media. The fashion and the well-publicized scandals of Sid Vicious and friends were as far as most people saw from outside the subculture. In Facing The Music edited by Simon Frith, Mary Harron reduced the meaning of punk to "the spectacle of middle-class children dressing up in a fantasy of proletarian aggression and lying desperately about their backgrounds."Harron attributed her perceived failure of punk firstly toward the bands' misdirected hatred ? toward stars of the previous generation like the Who or Rolling Stones, toward their record companies, toward even their fans with more venom than they directed toward the government. Because they had no "real" political focus, no mass consciousness for social change, nor a single issue like Vietnam, Harron believed punk accomplished little besides reviving the British pop industry before it failed.Harron went on to generalize that punk's "second generation" suddenly switched from "anarchy and mayhem to orthodox left-wing politics," adopting the same ideas of grass-roots networks and alternative distribution systems that the hippies had during the sixties counterculture, adding only rock hype ? rebellion and conscious exploitation of the media. She said it was only briefly that punk was able to "exploit hype while challenging it on its own ground, both through its consistent attack on the values of the music industry and by exposing to its audience how that industry worked." Then their "puritanism" was so bad for the music that "post-punk austerity" began to pall.Harron's most amusing generalizationwas yet to come ? after simplifying the punk movement into a split into rock and pop, she implied that the two styles transcended and left behind the "punk loyalists" (hardcore?), who clung to the independent labels, the clothes, the sound and "what they saw as the ideals of 1976." In fact, Harron said, they retreated from the present, evolving to a brand of flaccid and impotent neo-hippies with vegetarian, pacifist and mystic deals. Their determinedly non-commercial musical course was described as "abrasive or dirgelike," and while they "joined the ranks of other die-hard rock conservatives," Harron went on to espouse the virtues of disco.

It is clear that Harron merely took a glimpse of the smoke from the forest fires

While there is no convincingly authoritative source on skinhead history. When the superstars of punk dissolved into the corporate rock world.By declaring the death of a whole subculture just because the founding icons disappeared. John M. The ration of whites to non-whites during certain periods are unclear. popular skinhead music developed a mixture of R&B. there has been enough discussion about it in fanzines from Sniffin' Glue to Maximum RocknRoll that the disparities in details of the accounts tend to even out. He said skinheads resulted in a fusion of cultures between the white working class of England. "Crazy Baldhead" by the Wailers. and assumed the same thing happened to the whole subculture when members of the respective bands went on to more commercial dance. The mods and other whites were into R&B and Motown. 1989 issue of Maximum RocknRoll. Underneath the smoke was a whole new opportunity for kids to become active in a culture they could call their own. Stafford of Washington. wrote a letter that briefly summarized such accounts of skinhead history. Nor is the other view accurate. the media and its scholars assumed not only that punk left behind a void. politically passe state of nostalgia. Within this so-called void. Skinhead Suss. instead of being force-fed with highly consumeristic advertising of dry commercial culture. The skinheads who listened to reggae were supposedly at their greatest numbers from 1968 to 1972. a precursor of reggae that fused American R&B with Caribbean rhythms. D. This is not true. and finally into reggae. but it grew out of a void. evolving from ska into rocksteady. commercial media like Rolling Stone hailed the Sex Pistols and The Clash as the only legitimate icons of punk. The rude boys were into ska. originated either in the late 50?s or the 60?s depending on who's telling the story. that the punk subculture stagnated into a musically conservative.When the cultures fused. although the resulting subculture was an undeniable example of cultural pluralism.club success in the form of Public Image Ltd. there was a thriving skinhead subculture. and Big Audio Dynamite. who produced an album called Skinhead . One of the better known black skinhead bands was Symarip. "Skinhead Moondust" by the Hotrod Allstars and more.C. soul and Jamaican music.In the December. immigrant Jamaicans and West Indian Blacks who called themselves rude boys. The music industry recognized this and the stores were filled with skinhead anthems: "Skinhead Train" by Laurel Aitken.Page 2 of 10 sparked by punk. Throughout the mid 1960s the Jamaican music became more important to the skinhead scene as the music came into much greater circulation. In the late 1960s the music went through many changes.

The punk fashion that was yet to develop for another four years would be radically different in attitude and appearance. orange or lavender. the mods' tough. Ben Sherman shirts. side-slit skirts. I'm not saying they were wrong or anything. 31 City Pages. The fashion grew out of the "hard mod" subculture of the workingclass East End of London in the mid-1960s." said Joe. At dance halls they mixed freely with the West Indian rude boys. unhealthy flesh. T-shirts printed with vulgar words and violent and/or pornographic pictures ? often images of rape and murder.) for a night out. scarves or ties and loafers or brouges (wingtips in the U. While steel. a Minneapolis skinhead interviewed in the Jan. Artificially torn and soiled clothing."it was almost a kind of anti-hippie movement. A "crop" had practical benefits as well. which were often bruised and scratched. The short hair showed they took pride in their appearance.S. held together with outsize safety pins.Page 3 of 10 Moonstomp on Trojan records. sometimes red.Their hair was generally kept at around a half inch in length instead of being completely shaved. Faces were powdered pasty white. The hippies didn't. Punk chicks might also wear this costume. which might be pulled tight around the neck or used to fasten one leg to the other. In clothing. Levi's . black and white were the favorite colors. black Swat slacks with suspenders (always referred to as "braces"). it required neither shampoo nor comb and couldn't be grabbed in a fight. . Their feud with hippies was rooted in the fact that the "dirty long-hairs" with bellbottoms and sandals tended to be dropouts from white middle-class society. with sooty eyes and heavy lipstick. button-down Fred Perrys.Fashion was a relatively important part of the skinhead culture. green. exposed areas of pale. Their sussed style did not mean they were always polite. Unfortunately. clean style was partly a reaction to the androgynous finery of hippies and the sloppiness of the long-haired bikers known as rockers. They wore T-shirts. "They didn't like the style of the long hair. integrated origins and a more dignified style. they just didn't. they would change into tailored suits with silk handkerchiefs." he said. Originated by the skinheads. unnatural colors: often very pale yellow. tight angora sweaters and spike-heeled sandals. they had not yet adopted the hippie-rooted ideals of non-violence. their boyfriends favored heavy "shit-kicker" boots. black felt "donkey" jackets that wouldn't tear in the factory or a brawl.toed Doc Marten boots and jeans were worn to work by the majority of those with blue collar jobs. Skinheads were often noted for antisocial behavior such as going hippie bashing and for creating havoc in the soccer terraces. One favorite accessory was the dog or bicycle chain. red. Alison Lurie describes the derived punk style in The Language of Clothes:It featured hair cropped to a fuzz and dyed startling. Punks wore black leather jackets and jeans decorated with metal studs and superfluous zippers. or they might vary it with hot pants. while skinheads took pride in their working-class.

callous or helpless teachers and social workers.damaging vehemence on their records. Crass espoused the ideals of anti-violence. artists like Laurel Aitken.The Essex-based Crass was an extreme example of a band who incorporated the ideals of their lyrics into their lifestyle. the music reflected a musical style based on the old tradition of pub sing-a-longs. Dub made reggae less interesting to some skinheads. punk had arrived.Sailin' On By 1972. Skinheads used to dancing to the straightforward rhythms of ska. things would have been different. The Clash and The Damned attracted a huge following. While Oi! music was often difficult to distinguish from ordinary punk by unfamiliar ears. Cocksparrer. Thus. By their second album.Page 4 of 10 While the fashion served as effective symbolism and identity for early punks. slowed-down.Skins. dub reggae and rock'n'roll. much faster. Oi Polloi and the 4. but often much. With dub. "the punk style was a demand for attention. The words challenged the bloated corporate complacency of rock just as punk did. two new sounds hit the skinhead movement. But by then. and flushing out hypocrisy in organized religion in the context of their ear. rocksteady and reggae had little use for the stoned. it was soon taken up by many middle and upper-class youths who alienated many punks away form the style. the heavy influence of rastafarianism and the artists who did not wish to conform to this new standard of the reggae scene soon were relegated to near obscurity. together with a cry of rage against those who should have paid attention to these kids in the past but had not done so": the parents who were too immature or too exhausted. they dismissed the influential Sham . The band established several independent record labels and an information service. While the popular Sex Pistols. Prince Buster and the Skatelites were abandoned until the 2-Tone era.Reggae was soon replaced by a new form of rock ?n' roll when a band of white skinheads from Wolverhampton called Slade started becoming popular in 1973 and introduced the skinhead world to Oi! or pub rock as it was known then. After two hit singles. continuing to embrace Oi! bands like Sham 69. spaced-out beats with the bottom frequently dropping out from under them. "In the language of clothes. Slade signed with a major record company and sold out to glam metal. the skinheads chose to largely distinguish themselves from the spectacle. Perhaps if marijuana caught on with the skinheads as much as it did with the rastafarians. including many white middle-class teenagers. Formed in Essex. a welfare state that seemed uninterested in their welfare and had no jobs for most of them. partly in the Sham 69 image. and a long affiliation started to wane. Stations of the Crass. they soon evolved into an anarchist commune." Lurie said. England in 1976. of course. early skinheads had little use for so much attention and to the superficial qualities of the punk appearance. feminism. and Lee Perry was ostracized because of his active campaign against rasta.

where it was viewed as a dramatic but not particularly political variant of punk. anti-Semitic. until it crashed on its face with the rise of disco. The Fall in Manchester and Liliput in Switzerland. The Pop Group in Bristol.A group of former skinheads tattooed their faces with swastikas and taunted onlookers with "Sieg Heil" salutes.Baldies & Boneheads in America. The far right preyed upon the division of the traditional skinhead movement in Britain as the economic woes of the time began to erode the group from within. Crass stood as a successful model of dead-serious political commitment in the punk/skinhead movement. and the effects can be seen from a multitude of subcultures to mainstream commercial music. and they did their best to use violence to disrupt shows by the 2-Tone bands. The Specials's last release.The skinhead subculture had already taken root in the U. But it was basically futile because by the beginning of 1982 most of the 2-Tone bands had broken up. the Ghost Town EP. and anti-IRA.S.69 as full of hot air by doing a parody of them called "Hurry Up Garry. To combat the influence of the White Power organizations and spearhead a skinhead revival. which Margaret Thatcher would exploit so successfully. That was when it became easy for them to start blaming their problems on the immigrants. Encouraged attitudes were anti-immigrant (and therefore anti-Black)." which is also a wicked snipe at the music business. to create disruption." Crass reached their peak in Penis Envy by drawing an ugly parallel between rampant sexism and white man's rape of nature and society. The Au Pairs in Birmingham. They also summarized their scorn of punk as merely a fashion concept on "White Punks on Hope. most bands mixed both black and white members and the movement was molded around integration. by 1977. There were Black .By 1977.While eventually finding themselves embroiled in legal battles with various government agencies." said Joe. The Gang of Four and The Mekons in Leeds. joining Britain's right-wing resurgence. in that order. a dedicated population of skinheads were inspired to strengthen their cultural pluralism through the 2. Skinheads not into Oi! or Crass temporarily kept the suss alive inside the Northern Soul movement. who began using kids who favored the more paramilitary aspects of skinhead fashion. Several bands reflected Crass's influence both politically and "musically. and it spent eight weeks atop the British charts. was a telling commentary on the violence. While some 2-Tone era bands were all white (such as Madness. creating a hybrid of exciting new music. who were mostly minorities. anti-communist.The National Front recognized 2-Tone as a threat to their foothold in the skinhead subculture. an anarchist band) or all black (such as the Equators).Tone movement. Writers like Mary Harron could hardly call them conservative. the Shadows and the Oppressed. In response. the skinhead subculture began facing problems from the fascist National Front. they shared cultural and musical ideas." including The Ex in Amsterdam. "It got so there were a lot of working class kids out of work and extremely frustrated with what was going on. Yet the seeds for their multicultural inventiveness and integrity had been dispersed.

. a member of the Ku Klux Klan. But while the boneheads were puppets of Metzger. The style "stood for unity. the media seems to ignore what many skins consider equally important: the question of class." he said in the May/June '89 issue of the Utne Reader. So the bones crashed the punk clubs." said James DePasquale. By the end of the weekend. and domestic white-power bands were wooden amateurs who lacked broad appeal. fascism also took root in American by 1985. American punks. sometimes taking a razor blade to the locks of a longhair or ripping an anti-racist button off a peace punk's shirt." says Tim Yohannan. "The Syndicate" had been organized. It is as much by addressing and twisting the class question as by appealing to racism that the neo. editor of Maximum Rocknroll. the influence of punk. anti-Semitic organization. 1989.class youth. or 1980. "Everybody who had a shaved head. or "baldies" have fought back in cities like Chicago and Minneapolis.power Nazi skinheads. included African-American. Native American. etc. many of whom hung together in the bi-racial 2-Tone bands. or 1981. you considered them a brother.The January Minneapolis skinhead gathering. more than 150 anti-racist skins from at least ten cities came to Minneapolis to form an umbrella organization for the anti-racist skins scattered throughout North America. "Now there's idiots with ideology. the Syndicate did it themselves. The average age of participants was 19.As in Britain. leader of a national Nazi youth group called The American Front. when Nazi skinhead violence exploded at Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco that summer.By the time the mainstream had declared the death of punk in 1979. White Aryan Resistance. the skinheads's Oi! and anti-racist 2-Tone and the do-it-yourself . 18. the White Knights were effectively driven out of Minneapolis by a campaign of physical confrontations that reduced the neo-Nazi group to a handful of die-hard white supremacists and their leader.and Latin and Jewish skins. while predominantly white. and "boneheads" for the white.The Twin Cities emerged as a center of anti-racist skinhead activity in 1987 when a group of baldies challenged the neo-Nazi White Knights. The skinhead movement quite explicitly places its hopes for the future of the united action of the working class. Boneheads had no music scene of their own to speak of. "There were always idiots.Nazis have been able to establish a beachhead among white working."Skinheads distinguished each other with the terms "baldies" for the leftist non-racist skinheads. skinheads. There is a deeply felt contempt for the rich in some quarters of American society that can be tapped with either revolutionary class politics or the half-baked Nazism of a Tom Metzger and his racist. Latino and Asian skinheads.With the help of fascists like Bob Heick.While the question of racism has been pushed on the skinhead movement. since Skrewdriver was never allowed into the United States. Their passionate desire to clear the skinhead name is rooted in the belief that skinhead culture has something to offer all nationalities. where punks and "ska" skins have joined forces for more direct action. In January. who became a skinhead four years ago. and future anti-racist activities were planned.

independent fanzines could be found with music critique of all the newly formed bands and their demos. there was Minor Threat. comics. there is still a significant group of people who consider themselves sussed skinheads. jazz/speedfunk. In California. In Washington D. Adolescents.O. Mexican. T.Black Flag has often been considered America's first hardcore band. Xerox art. Jewish. and a few countries in Africa. Fear and others. Australia. who are actively breaking down racial and cultural barriers by taking in African-American. beginning in 1978. interviews. growing from both the West and East coasts. Especially around urban areas. reviving ska (for the second time) with bands like the Red Skins. in Washington D. and the commercial culture targeted for everyone else who presumably did not deserve to have a voice. (True Sounds of Liberty).H. there were bands like The Dils. Minutemen.R. Bad Religion. The Weirdos. They started an anti-racist organization founded in San Diego called S.C. By creating the still-surviving SST label (although it had recently declared bankruptcy). X. poetry. in addition to the aforementioned Syndicate.A. Dead Kennedys. by the time their first EP Jealous Again came out in 1980. North America. (Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice). fiction. news. Punk has evolved into or influenced popular styles like hardcore. the Potato Five.Younger kids involved in musical subcultures are looking back toward the roots of the past generation. hip-hop. It was a renaissance for those who were stranded form or chose to avoid the elitist upperclass artists and intellectuals who communicated only with their peers in art and academic journals. The Circle Jerks. Europe and Australia. goth/glam. While Black Flag and their peers . The Germs.American.L. Black Flag single. thrash.Hardcore Coast to Coast Much of the punk and skinhead influence on America developed into hardcore. The perpetual process of sharing cultural ideas and developing new hybrids of music blur the distinctions between one style and the next. and other styles that defy labels. Asian-American. the Deltones and International Jet Set. The Avengers. speedmetal/speedcore.handedly gave the West Coast hardcore scene international prominence.C. Bad Brains and other bands on the Dischord label. The Descendents. Independent labels were created by the dozens throughout Europe.S. Social Distortion. industrial. investigative reporting. There has also been a rise of anti-Nazi fanzines like Zoot and Spy Kids. immigrant and homosexual/bisexual skinheads into one integrated cultural-pluralistic community.P. metal. Black Flag had begun touring enough to become a major attraction in nearly every city and inspire others to get into the scene.Many people are ignorant of the many post-punk subcultures because they are not as easily pegged and defined as the simpledays of the Sex Pistols. Black Flag. The Vandals. It has already spread to England. political agendas and more.Page 5 of 10 ethic had spread all over the world.

proved their mastery of hardcore early in their career with the 1980 single." about commercial culture and middle class suburban life. Your Flesh.The Dead Kennedys became an exception to the West Coast scene when they honed a self-righteously moral attack upon middle and upper-class values. they shed some of the hardcore sound to create even more exciting blends of funk. their 1980 debut on I. the sound they made was predominantly a joyful noise.Page 6 of 10 wrote cutting songs like "T. Inc. which revealed strong influence from the ideology of Crass and the music of The Ruts. A song that acknowledged both the aspirations and realties of political punk rock inspired a whole generation of skinheads and people without any label to denounce the self-destructive.C. While SST was just starting.The Rise of Independent Rock By the mid 1980s. lead singer for Minor Threat. CA. and they rarely preached to their fans. By 1981. Bad Brains featured radically contrasting excursions into dub and rasta reggae amongst the hardcore fury. On the 1982 ROIR cassette album. and Chemical Imbalance have been able to attain an impressive level of slickness and circulation to make a reasonable impact on the independent music scene and its underground subcultures without compromise. The Dead Kennedys's sarcastic diatribes bordered on the overbearing on In God We Trust. He was merely describing the choices he had made for himself at the time. The power of their own influence became apparent when. "Pay to Cum!".R. it became nearly impossible to keep track of all the new bands and styles that were helped out by the essential fanzines to get their messages and names out.." their crowning achievement. They issued the Bottled Violence EP in 1981. As the band progressed. From that song.S. other fanzines such as Flipside. would later emphasize that he was not telling people that they should restrict their own lifestyles. Minor Threat helped establish the Dischord label.Meanwhile. Ian MacKaye. contained "Holidays In Cambodia. Bad Brains carried on the tradition of the 2-Tone movement to the states. Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables. Party. The black jazz-rock fusionists from Washington D. reggae and metal wile continuing to espouse rastafarian principles.V. nihilistic lifestyle that cultural icons like Sid Vicious romanticized.The East Coast had much more in common with the Dead Kennedys than the more hedonistic California bands. until they redeemed themselves with an improved sense of humor on Plastic Surgery Disasters in 1982. resorting to getting paid by . pushing the hybrids even further. Minor Threat unwittingly would create a whole new American subculture which would adopt the same song title. with one impassioned hardcore tune called "Straight Edge" they called for abstinence from drugs and booze. In addition to all the loyal hardcore fanzines inspired by Maximum Rocknroll based in Berkeley. they had formed the Alternative Tentacles label which became a grassroots force as productive as SST.

shown by coverage of the most successful bands from SST. reaching back to the pre-punk music of The Stooges. Blood Circus. distribution and in-store product placement being leveraged with merchandising." predicts Joseph. even tried to emulate the style of fanzines with a tiny. the sales. Fugazi. Homestead.."Joseph believes that the consequences of big business. A corporation called Joseph-Fox Communications. Radio Birdman and even Blue Cheer and Black Sabbath. such as BMG funding a new "independent" label. Scratch Acid.-Time Inc. PolyGram buying out Island and eventually A&M. First Warning. stockholders. The Effigies. Dinosaur Jr. "CBS Records is owned by Sony. Husker Du. EMI buying out Chrysalis Records and Virgin Records taking in major equity partners.But mainstream culture has become increasingly aware of the multitudes of music coming out of the post-punk subcultures. All A&R and marketing is done independently of BMG.in-Chief and presumably the former half of Joseph-Fox. to hip-hop artists like Boogie Down Productions to several inventive industrial bands and the retro "sludge" movement (The Melvins. Big Black. They manage to include more variety than the uncompromising hardcore ?zines than the unadventurous mainstream." he said. He believes the Godzilla corporations will generously spread increased profits to employees. although if any band does or says something BMG does not like. Douglas Joseph." Although independents fear the big squeeze of major labels. Squirrel Bait. Naked Raygun. there is more opportunity for the independents. which is distributed "independently" by Rough Trade. toward developing new artists. The MC5. advertising and AOR radio play is a positive influence on the music scene. and most importantly.The Fall of Independent Rock?Suddenly the industries see big possibilities for mass consumption of the bands who once thrived (or starved) in the underground subcultures.His theory is that stronger companies will be more apt to experiment with new ideas as well as new musicians. The Replacements. including The Minutemen. brilliantly concluding that "the music industry is big business. But Joseph says "as the major labels get bigger. Mudhoney. with the notable exceptions of New York's Trouser Press and Chicago's Matter magazines. Dischord. merger. slick and laughably naive production called New Route: The new route to new music. Sonic Youth. Bad Brains. Inc. and RCA Records by BMG. Meat Puppets. "The future of the record business is with the young artists. The Swans. Alice Cooper. the Editor. the money flowing into the alternative markets from the large companies strengthens the marketplace and . Twin/Tone. wrote an editorial in the October 1989 issue where he brought up the Warner Bros. Nirvana) initiated by the Sub Pop label in Seattle. Butthole Surfers. they would disappear from the industry as a label-less band. Green River.Page 7 of 10 corporations and advertisements.

Even more dangerous to the underground culture than Tom Metzger's White Aryan Resistance.Page 8 of 10 supposedly creates more awareness for everyone. we will hear great music from both major and [puppet] independent labels. ."It is powerful people like Douglas Joseph and his New Route to brain-death who continue to remind underground fans of the reality of their worst nightmares. it is this continuing threat of the corporate powers to control and exploit the independents for their own convenience and profit that continues to inspire youth around the world to do it themselves."So. "as long as the music industry is healthy." wrote Joseph. properly managed and new artists continue to crete interesting music.

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