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Punk: one search for identity

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image source : svilenebube.com/fashion-punk


Punk: from the avant-garde to the shelves of shops - a search for identity This post will try to dedicate itself to one very interesting cultural issue - the nature of the punk movement and the reasons why this movement, in its narrowest form, very quickly disappeared from the subculture scene and became consumerism, ie, became its antithesis. The paper will deal with this, the "narrowest form", and the term "punk" will mean punk in the United Kingdom in the period 1976-1978, focusing mainly on the cultural phenomenon of the so-called. "Classic punk" and the punk groups Sex Pistols and Clash. Also, the paper will comment on the SFK punk scene, its similarities and differences in relation to punk in the UK. Punk-rock is a sub-genre of rock music, which appeared in the second half of the seventies of the last century, in response to the political and social scene of the countries in which it appeared, as well as to the mainstream trends in rock music. Punk was at the same time a scream of the political establishment, but also of something we could call a "dominant subculture." In the song "1977" by the punk band Clash, the singer of the band, Joe Strummer, sings "No Elvis, Beatles, or the Rolling Stones in 1977", which is somewhat reminiscent of the cry of the Russian avant-garde "Let's throw the classics [1] off the steamer of modernity". Punk was recognized as an avant-garde music movement and a kind of excess on the music scene in the seventies, when it was dominated by performers like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and still felt a strong influence of musicians who died in the early seventies ( Janis Joplin, Jimy Hendrix and Jim Morrison).

There was an opinion that glam-rock, alternative rock, psychedelic rock were too mainstream and too ornate style, so punk was a rebellion against this type of "baroque" in rock music. Punk is a very reduced musical subgenre, which includes only electric guitar, bass guitar, drums and voice, and completely rejects keyboards, wind instruments and all percussion instruments except the rhythm section of the drum. Songs are often very short, usually lasting only 2 min, rarely 3 minutes, they are very aggressive, fast-paced, while the lyrics absolutely avoid any kind of metaphor and conveyed meanings, rather than usually images from life. Punk music itself was the center of a whole subcultural movement that included a certain worldview, fashion expression, the behavior of a whole special class of young people - working class children who lived in the suburbs. These youths, in their teens, were lost - they did not come from wealthy families, from the aristocratic class or from the middle class, but they were not newcomers from the former British colonies either. They were both domestic and foreign at the same time. A great example of this, the image and opportunity of this class is John Lydon (Johnny Rotten), lead singer of the Sex Pistols. He was of Irish descent and experienced as a child mobbing and assaults due to his Irish accent in speech, he came from a poor family where the father worked on a construction site and the mother could not take care of the children because she was very ill, and the burden of caring for the family fell on Lydon as the oldest child.

image source: BBC.com


These young people had no one and nothing to identify with - many came from dysfunctional and poor families, families of drunks, mercenaries, from neighborhoods known for crime and gangs, and could not identify with the figure of their father or someone successful from their environment. Most of them were sentenced to a life without a future, and the "no future" attitude of punk is a reflection of that situation.


At the same time, they could not identify with any movement that was offered as an alternative to the dominant, ie. ruling culture: rock bands that were popular at the time promoted everything that was foreign to these young people - wealth, glamor, expensive drugs and a slightly distorted spirituality. All this seemed to the working children to be a lie and insincerity, and punk itself began not as a rebellion against the regime, against the British Queen and the organs of the system, but precisely as a rebellion against what was the alternative. John Lydon himself was noticed by Malcom McLaren (manager of the Sex Pistols) in a T-shirt with Pink Floyd's trademark on it, and above that sign Lydon wrote "I hate" in his own handwriting. The image of a punk is an image of an outsider, a marginal, someone whom society has rejected and forgotten, and he is doomed to exist. The whole image of the members of this movement seemed to be based on a deep inner scream addressed to a world that doesn't care: "We are young, ugly and poor, but we are here and what are you going to do with us now?"

Out of punk emerged "irony, pessimism and amateurism of the musical style which had open social and political implications". Punk marked a new aesthetic - the aesthetics of the proletariat, the despised mass that was not talked about and exploited. It is interesting and important to add that 1976, the founding year of the Sex Pistols, is taken as the starting year of British punk, marked by perhaps the biggest labor, economic crisis in the United Kingdom since 1940: in June of that year, about 5.5% were unemployed. The then population of the UK (about 1.5 million people were unemployed), while the pound fell to only $ 1.7. Punk originated as a social cry and commentary of this age. After the Sex Pistols' first major appearance in February 1976, the media labeled the band "vulgar and untalented." It was this bad label that was attached to them by members of the dominant culture that contributed to the Sex Pistols soon becoming famous and coming out of the shadows. Their song "Anarchy in the UK" released on November 26, 1976 was banned on radio stations after only 5 performances, and their song "God Save the Queen", released on May 27, 1977 will be banned very soon after its release. To the BBC. However, despite the censorship, these songs will quickly gain their audience because, obviously, they "hit" kairos - the spirit of the time. Almost a year after "Anarchy in the UK", on October 27, 1977, the Sex Pistols will record the album "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols" which will present these and some other songs (Holidays in the Sun, Bodies, Pretty Vacant and others).


The etymology of the name "punk" is very complex. Namely, it is a very old English word, which was also used by W. Shakespeare as a synonym for the word "prostitute" in his works "Merry Women of Windsor" and "Measure for Measure". Also, this word meant "homosexual", but also "gangster", "street person", "bastard" and "hooligan". Precisely the meaning of "bastard" is the meaning of this word in the context of the then popular police series "Kojak".

Today, the term "punk" means "a policy that declares itself anarchist" and a raw, fierce minimalist musical style.

image source: medium.com


Punk is a movement that will later, after the first wave of "classic punk", unite both ultra-rightists (skinheads, often associated with OI! Punk) and ultra-leftists (neo-leftists) precisely because both of these oppositions are marginalized groups. The original punks expressed all this by the way they dressed - they dressed in what they would get into, often in very torn things, and the tears, instead of mending them, were joined by safety pin. As jewelry, they used items from everyday use or very cheap decorations: razor blades, chains made of bath stoppers, badges. Their footwear was cheap and, for them, very affordable - work-orthopedic boots by Dr Martens and a little later, the cheapest canvas sneakers All Stars, but also SM clothes from brothels.

image source : obucagazela.rs

Today, it is practically the uniform of all those who are, at least declaratively, punks. The irony of the punk movement is that these are some not-so-cheap image additions today. This very moment - when punk is moving from a marginalized cultural phenomenon to the shelves of shops, in the niche of the society it was fighting against, is marked by the famous maxim "Punk is dead". Why did classic punk, just like many other avant-garde movements, die so quickly, moving into the category of mainsteam? The reasons for this are multiple. The Sex Pistols themselves were a construct, an artificial creation of their manager Malcom McLaren and his then-girlfriend Vivienne Westwood. They often took the original fashion expression of youth from the street (whose typical representative was none other than John Lydon himself) and transformed it into things that could be sold. Of course, they did so much more cautiously than did the youth who showed their anger and disappointment in the generation of World War II veteran fathers.

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Comments

Punk is one of the most eccentric musical and social movements. I don’t like that hard sound.

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1 month ago

Punk is not for me.I do not listen such music,I do not like how people are dressed,I do not like their hairstyle.I do not like nothing what means punk.You made great post.I like only reading about it.

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1 month ago