Mouse is a punk rocker
Volsunga has a post up about one of the topics of endless fascination for youngish fans of the music--what is and isn't punk? Luckily, she's a smarty-pants and has insightful things to say. I probably don't, 'cause I was never really that good at convincing people that my enthusiasm for any strain of punk rock was any more profound than, "Fuck yeah!" I think, however, there is something to be said for that attitude.
The commodification of punk has been an irritant to the faithful since it first made its way over to England, if not before. It's just being pissy and ignorant, though, to take the simplistic view that treating punk rock as a commodity is Evil--all art is a commodity, and it's just a matter of who's got their hands on the controls. Or, even just if you like it, really. People who are enamored of "ironic" retro fashions, like I've been since I was a teenager, we might kid ourselves into thinking that because we're not feeding the current loathed beast that dictates trends and fashions that we are somehow making a statement or above it all somehow. Truth told, I just like certain older styles for aesthic reasons and while some friends of mine are irate to see retro fashions like full skirts and fitted waists coming back into style, I'm just happy that there's more clothes for me to buy and that everyone is looking so damn cute lately.
That doesn't mean I don't have my limits. For instance, I loathe clothing that is the modern equivalent of playing peasant--I will die before I pay $100 for a pair of jeans that are faded and torn. Fashions like that make mockery of people like me who have to work for a damn living and who buy our jeans brand new and dark indigo and wear the new ones out at night to look snappy and wear them on Saturday afternoons at the grocery store when they have holes and stains, not because we're making a statement so much as we don't see the point in throwing out something usable until there's a big hole in the ass.
That's what's so damn infuriating about the commodification--the trendy, inauthentic, money-grubbing commodification--of punk, or anything else for that matter. (Hip-hop has suffered the same fate of being run through a corporate commodification machine and then being sold back to the gullible at a huge profit margin.) It's inauthentic and therefore it's a mockery--Ashley Simpson wears a shirt that's supposed to look punk but costs more than I spend in a year on clothes and sings her shitty music for ungodly amounts of dough while I know people who may be geniuses that are couch-surfing and it seems like the corporate fucks are blowing raspberries at you , turning symbols that once had meaning for you into the same old crap that you were retaliating against in the first place.
The saddest thing is that they've caused us to eat our own. Pop punk styles are charting now, and that means that it's not cool anymore and you're embarrassed to like the music that you always liked before, that gave you joy. We're chasing our tails and it's time to stop, take a breath and remember that the most important thing is not if you're rebelling, but if you're simply being honest. I find myself wanting to dig deep and write about how my favorite band is something other than The Ramones, something more obscure, hipper somehow. But that would be a lie--The Ramones really are my favorite band, and yes, their music means something to me.
The music causes wall-building and debates about what is or isn't Punk, and while that's tiresome and stupid it is indicative of a certain passion that should be lauded. For instance, because of punk I was well-versed in the DIY aesthetic, and because of that blogging made immediate sense to me and that's why I jumped into it with two feet. A thoughtful approach to the philosophies behind it should be empowering, not frustrating. And of course, if you're empowered you feel that you are the person who decides what is and what is not, and so these debates become empty and meaningless. Who says what's Punk? Well, I do, that's who.