Tags: Music • Politics • Republicans
I balk when I see tweets about conservatives being the new punk rock just because people vehemently hate Milo Yiannopoulos for being a *fashionable* blowhard. This is because I associate punk with my rebellion against fascistic tendencies and I associate the alt right with shitty old nazis who just so happen not to carry the SES association with rednecks. But today, my “shuffle all” played 7 Seconds and I realized how much I cling to the good and put aside the bad in my memories of the punk rock I loved in my youth. As a tween and teen, I clung to bands like 7 Seconds because they had the edge and the energy I loved about punk, but they also created space for me. With feminist 101 songs like “Not Just Boys Fun” and lines like “fuck big business, church and war/that’s not what we’re fighting for” in “Definite Choice,” I had music to get me fired up for the political work and to comfort me in times when I felt like maybe I was the crazy one and I should just conform. The flip side of that realization of how fucking great 7 Seconds was, is that there was SO MUCH that was garbage.
I remember the first time I listened to Nevermind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols and thought Bodies was an incomprehensible story of abortion stigma. Is the problem that she was poor? “A case of insanity”? That she was a “no-one who killed her baby”? Was the transgression supposed in the graphic gorey descriptions? If so, then the purity ring wearing indoctrinated tweens outside clinics who carry signs bearing gorey images of god knows what are as punk rock as the Pistols. I did not find it to be progressive or transgressive, and I didn’t have the language or discourse of the problematic fav so I just had to live with my cognitive dissonance and continue to call punk progressive while knowing it could be weirdly conservative. Bodies is downright milquetoast compared to what I heard as I got into hardcore and oi!
I remember smiling while my at-the-time boyfriend and his bestie listened to “Politically Incorrect” by Combat 84 not quite ironically enough to justify their smirks at “Equal opportunity?! What about my fucking opportunities?!” (also lol, this line basically sums up the entire argument of conservative transgression). Yes, for every kid with a SHARP patch, there was a kid with an 88 patch (or the little patch with a no symbol over the SHARP logo because I guess graphic design for nazis died in the 40s); for every Kathleen Hanna there was a Fat Mike; for every “Jesus was a Communist,” there’s a really bizarrely high number of white dudes trying to convince you that Screwdriver is just really great punk music if you can put aside the white power shit. As a kid I had a lot of trouble navigating whether or not some kid I was meeting was gonna say some outrageously dehumanizing shit about Jews without noticing (or maybe intentionally because they did notice) that I’m Jewish.
At that time, I had to dig to find Team Dresch or Bitch and Animal (ok, does anti-folk count as punk? I don’t know, don’t @ me) to express that queer anger I had inside me, an anger that was definitely not acceptable to a lot of the traditional-gender-role-loving hardcore scene. Punk rock and queercore is now a huge part, if not the dominating genre, of punk. Thanks in part to band like MEN and Gravy Train!!!, we have bands like PWR BTTM being featured in the New York Times. The new punk rock is a glittering queermo paradise, not some fucking punch bait dude with a frog pin talking about how he’s *technically* not a member of the KKK.