Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Guest Column in MRR # 332

(This is the header I wanted them to use. I guess they have a generic header for all guests though.)

I agree with Marissa Magic's guest column last month. Punk is no longer a threat to mainstream society. Hell, it may have never been a relevant political statement? We could debate whether rock music has ever been a valid political forum. It seems to me that punk no longer embodies its original spirit which I think first and foremost was angst and rebellion against the unjust world. Corporate interests have subverted every subculture this world has produced that I am aware of by now anyhow. Naomi Klein wrote a book some ten odd years ago about this phenomenon called "No Logo" which I'm sure most of you are aware of at this point. I think we can learn a great deal from her research and insight about the implications in the branding of culture. Many of us have conformed to the mainstream society, ironically giving in, knowingly using the system because we are a scene of first world privilege. For others it has been a gradual backslide, little by little we settle into a more comfortable lifestyle of conformity. Whenever I feel like I'm starting to slip I try asking myself a series of questions that will help me to regain my direction.

Where has the post modernist punk ideal of fatalism and futilism left our current scene? When I think about the state of the current punk scene I see a hollow facade of what was once idealism and radical thought. It feels like there is a rule book which everyone has read and no one has a actual honest opinion of their own. What can we do to create something more authentic but still with the original spirit of counter culture? What can I do in my life to change what I see as a hollow existence of consumerism and self deprecation? 

The way I see it punk rock has become just another consumerist culture of "cool". Whether we are talking about who is mimicking the best retro punk/hardcore/garage band of 25 years ago, to who is looking fashionable in their studs, spikes, and all black leather clad road warrior garb. Of course I'm not leaving out those trendy hipster post punk uniformists. Where is the non conformist lifestyle, the direct opposition to societies dictates? Why have we not protected our scene from the possibilities of selling out? It seems that the artistic nature of our culture has been strip mined for every other subculture the world over. Taking all the danger out of being a punk.

There is a new trend every other day and it can be adopted instantaneously. Gone are the times when kids would sew, paint, and piece together their own unique outfit. Lets face it in the 2000's time is racing ahead of what a normal teenager 20 years ago could possibly imagine. Who has time to be an individual when we can all order our punk gear from Hot Topic? It comes down to the fact that this instant gratification is hollow. I can read an article on my iphone at lunch about an obscure artist and by 5pm 2 million other people have read the same thing. There is nothing obscure anymore that one would actually have to dig to find it seems. Without struggle there is emptiness. There is nothing to talk about anymore, and the lack of dialog has become a huge brain drain on our scene. 

Can you remember the last time a punk that was in a popular band talked to you about foreign policies? When was the last time a popular band wrote something that was halfway politically aware and current? Has a popular punk ever even talked with you? Oh shit, no, you're not cool enough. That band shirt your wearing is so 3 years ago. I miss critical thinkers like Sam Mcpheeters, or even more current interesting figures like Damian Abraham aka Pink Eyes. Where have they gone? To write for Vice Magazine, or record records for Vice/Matador Records. Why you ask? Maybe because the creative freedom of the original movement has been stifled. Maybe the people who are left just want to be spoon fed retro garbage for the rest of their lives? I know I don't. I want to open my mind to new sounds and new thoughts. 

Sometimes I feel punk has lost its soul. It has become an easy way to access the mainstream and build street cred from a smaller scene. It has for some time been a sort of alternate microcosm, where all the stupid stereotypes, cliches, and clicks of high school still exist. And I dare say MRR is not above it all in many cases. 

So, this is what I ask myself now. Do I want to be a part of a scene which by in large mirrors the exact society system which I hate? Do I want to change the scene I love and have given the larger portion of my life in involvement to? I've come to the conclusion long ago that I would rather change it than abandon it to hipster elites who never really cared about it in the first place. So what are the solutions to the problems we face? I no longer want to talk about the problems. I want to talk about something which hasn't been discussed enough in our scene. Solutions. 

My next guest column will hopefully be about positive change. You can contact me with ideas/hatemail at: nooptionsrecords@gmail.com

Playlist: Heratys-Helvettiin Ja Takaisin-EP , Doom Town-Demo-Cassette, Neva-Fausse Conscience-LP, The Estranged-Subliminal Man LP, Complications s/t LP