by Kristel Liakou
Did the punk movement change the world? Apparently, no. Revolutionary punk subculture was established in the mid-1970s and since then, not much have changed. Politics are pretty much the same, the unemployment rate is still high, capitalism still generates inequality, climate change is getting worse and so on.
Nevertheless, punk has changed the personal world of many individuals. Punk notion is a comfort to many, as it gives the right to fantasize a new world where there are no misfits. How freeing it must be for someone, who experiences everyday discrimination in today’s society, to feel that he/she can achieve everything? Sounds pretty romantic, we know. Punks are the romantics trapped in this capitalist system. We definitely need more punk and more rebels in this world. Who knows, maybe someday they will put up a revolution and free us all.
When punk music first started in England, music was liberated. Everyone could sing. Everyone could play the drums. Actually most band groups where actually created by groups of friends lacking of musical education. There were no norms to follow and no rules while composing music. That freedom of creativity those guys once have experienced is over -many would claim. “Nowadays punk is all about the aesthetics and has become a style” they would not stop rumbling. But is it that really the case?
Punk sound is aggressive and energetic often mixed with political related lyrics. Was Iggy Pop, Ramones or SCREAM who invented punk rock music? We will never really going to find out, as we won’t find out about who danced the pogo dance at first place. And that is ok. Punk is not about “who did this and that first” and it is not about “authenticity” either.
Some years ago, a journalist asked Tim Armstrong (RANCID), to define the “punk rocker” and if he considers himself as one. He lowered his eyes humbly and replied “Absolutely man. I mean I have tattooed my knuckles and I don’t give a fuck. Are you a punk rocker? I don’t give a fuck. Who am I to say you are not. Who’s a punk? I don’t know -I am not a cop. But I do know I am a punk rocker and if there is a sixteen-year-old kid like me, is in high-school very shy -an outsider, cant fit in- and he/she has a band, I am sure he is a punk rocker […] Who am I to say if someone is punk or not?”.
If Armstrong couldn’t say whether something is punk or not, who are we to judge others? So don’t mind if punk fashion style has being a trend lately. It makes sense actually -that is happening when subculture becoming a culture. We need more punk in our lives, so if that means that punk has to become popular, so be it. Grasp the feeling of the movement and don’t care about what others wear or do. Be a rebel and that’s all, folks.
We know, back in the day dressing-up like a punk was a political and social statement whereas today, tattoos, green hair, Mohican haircuts, ripped PVC and Docs are nothing new. Don’t be alienated by the trend, it actually rises awareness. As the new documentary of the eventful life of British punk queen, Vivienne Westwood does. The film “Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist” will be screen-played in mainstream cinemas, probably will be viewed by millions of people who know Vivienne as a fashion-designer (will be released in the UK and Ireland on March 23).
We find it amazing that people who know nothing about punk, they will be introduced to it by another medium. If that medium is fashion, music, paintings, movies or a Ramones t-shirt in a tourist gift shop, we don’t care. As long as it does the job, raising gradually awareness.
Be angry. Be a rebel. Generate ideas. Express them.