We need you.
The world needs you. Now more than ever.
Punk rock became notorious for a number of reasons, some legitimate, some not. But there was an ethos, an ethic that went with the style, or was supposed to, anyway. Like any movement—and I’d call it that, not a trend—it eventually became co-opted and whitewashed and dimmed to a memory of what it started off trying to do. Mohawks barely register on anyone’s radar any more (at least in my part of the country). Colored hair? You pay big bucks for that now. Doc Martens? Available everywhere. (For good reason. Those suckers go and go and go.) Piercings in various cringe-worthy places? These are born, in my opinion, from the movement of punk rock.
Then it died, or so went the story. I’d argue it never did, it just evolved. It shrank, to be sure, as the kids grew up and had kids of their own. Some former punks, no doubt, went on to prosperous careers in the banking or real estate industries. (Many became teachers. Let that sit for a second.) Others stuck to blue-collar roots. But that’s not unique to punk, that’s just life. Life happens. It’s the old joke about everyone is a Democrat until they own property. Ha ha. I get it.
Thing is . . .
Whatever may have been wrong with punk as a social movement, and these were mostly the acts of a few random outliers, not the entire band of punks themselves, they were pissed.
Punk grew from a dissatisfaction with the status quo. Stop me if any of these things sound familiar to you kids:
~ they opposed racism, institutionalized and social
~ they opposed fiscal policies that made rich people richer and poor people poorer
~ they didn’t want the comfy house in the suburbs insulated from the rest of the world
~ they wanted to shout and dance and slam around and take out their aggressions among friends
~ and they wanted to play loud music while they did it.
Maybe that’s romantic of me, but I’d point to voices like Youth Brigade and the Better Youth Organization as evidence that this was so.
Punk also had a DIY ethic second-to-none. They didn’t have money, so they did what they could with what they had. They used art—visual art, music, video, you name it—to get messages across to an also-angry American public who had no idea that they reason they were so angry was their perfect, square white world was teetering beneath them.
Again . . . sound familiar to anyone?
One thing the punks didn’t have was the internet, this thing that makes DIY the norm for everyone. The web leveled the field in ways that large corporations are still trying to recover from. Those of you who grew up with high speed may not fully appreciate the seismic shift the web caused and continues to cause.
So my question to you is: What do you want to do with it?
We need the punks back again. We need you, the better youth, to dig deep and protest those things that you know are unfair. Use your voice, your music, your art, your images—anything and everything you’ve got, because you know—YOU KNOW—the world is headed into hell right now.
Once again, the establishment that put us all into this mess is teetering on the brink. Just a couple more (nonviolent) pushes in the right direction, and we’ll have this thing beat. We might not all get along, and that’s okay; surely we can at least stop shooting each other and start taking care of the damn planet. Surely we can make schools a great place to learn about the world. We can find new ways to solve old problems like racism and sexism and all those other isms that keep giving this country and this world bruises and blood and funerals.
The voice of punk can do that unlike any other force.
This is perfect time to have a renaissance of punk. Its do-it-yourself outrage, its focus on equality and justice, about calling power into question…the world is primed for young people to stand up, stand out, and name things the way only young people can. Little kids instinctively know when to say, “That’s a bad choice!” As teens, younger people still have that sense of justice but now have the agency (and energy, and online resources) to act upon it. There’s no better way to take action than through music. Music is nonviolent. Music binds us together across generations.
Kids, if you’re pissed off and have always wanted to start a band–or a blog, or a site, or a movement, or a company–now’s a good time. Punk’s not dead unless we let it be. A lot of the old guys are still out there touring and making records. They’ve got kids your age.
So. You carry in your pocket a computer that could’ve sent people to the moon. What do you want to do with it? If you’ve got an instrument, start a band and post that. Write lyrics that matter deeply to you and to the world. Paint, draw, sculpt. Talk, scream, protest. Design, build, dance.
Do all these things for an earth that desperately needs your passion and enthusiasm.
Bring back punk. Do it yourself. Save us from ourselves. We need a voice—no, a million voices. How many of you are there, do you think? Find each other. Organize. Make change.
“Here comes the new generation
I hope they feel and fight the same way
As we did.
We’re going down, down to the streets below
Because don’t you know
I wasn’t born to follow.”
~ I Wasn’t Born To Follow, Social Distortion