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Saturday, April 15, 2006 

Punk Rock Politics

While doing my bi-weekly cruise through the other Marquette student blogs, I came across this interesting post by Matthew Lowerr of Agrestic. Matthew takes a look at how the punk scene has changed in the run up to the 2004 election and since then...
As a republican/libertarian there is a certain amount of crap you have to accept as a fan of punk music. I along with the majority of my friends in high school accepted that fact and for the most part it wasn't an issue. Starting in 2003 as part of the run-up to the 2004 elections that all changed. Suddenly the "“tolerance"” was gone from the scene, and the rhetoric was stepped up a notch or two.
I'm in the same boat as Matthew on this. I'm a punk fan who has all but turned my back on "the scene" in the past few years. I've never been a fan of Anti-Flag or NOFX, who I consider the two most prominent anti-Bush bands of the past election season. I listen mostly to the Ramones, the Misfits, the Buzzcocks, the Germs, lots of "the" bands. The most overtly political punk bands that I like are Bad Religion and The Clash. I like the music. I'm not buying the CD or going to the show to get a political speech.

Matthew is right about how the election really brought things to the surface in the punk scene. The election took the bands who were already political and heightened their activism. That activism spawned the PunkVoter website and the ubiquitous PunkVoter booth to get people signed up to vote and get them "educated". The educating materials weren't exactly what I would call fair. Shocking, I know. I honestly don't care if a kid signs up to vote at a booth like this, looks at the candidates, and chooses Kerry. I just get pissed off when the kid who signs up at that booth votes for Kerry because NOFX told him to do it. From talking to some of these kids, I know that is the case. Just saying "Bush sucks" is not an intelligent argument to back up your vote.

In his post, Matthew also talks about his experience at an Anti-Flag show after the election. The anger and rhetoric was at an all time high...
That night, at George Webb'’s, I vividly remember the three of us talking about this drastic change in the scene and wondering if we had just been blind to it for years. We didn't think so -– and I still don'’t think so -– but I know it was that night when my blind love of Punk music died.
In response to the comment about the drastic change in the scene, I think that it's a pretty nuanced issue. It depends on what the scene is to you. To me, part of the scene has always been very collectivist and absolutist.

I spent many weekends in my high school years at punk shows in Riverwest that were held in basements, garages, and other crappy venues. That was the Milwaukee scene to me. I gave up on it, but it wasn't for political reasons. It was because so many of the people involved were just as elitist and snobby as the people they hated so much. They ragged on preppy kids who shopped at The Gap and all looked alike. They also had no problem telling me that I didn't dress "punk enough". It was so much about image and conformity. That conformity spread into politics in a big way during the election. It's a shame too. So many punk fans consider themselves open minded and tolerant. A lot of them are anything but.

For the foreseeable future, I won't be going to any shows. That doesn't bother me much though. I'll just sit at home and listen to The Bronx "Kill My Friends" on iTunes. I like to feed the capitalist machine, one 99 cent download at a time.

Never got into punk much. I like a lot of different music though. My friends just roll there eyes when I'm there listening to Linkin Park or Seether or Siouxsie and the Banshees. They really get confused when it's Garth Brooks or even Classical! I love throwing them curves!

Punk was really the soundtrack to my teenage years. I still listen to it now, but not as much. I'm one of those people who is all over the map when it comes to music too. My tastes vary by mood. My iPod has everything from the Ramones to Elvis to Depeche Mode to Patsy Cline to Charles Mingus to Vivaldi. I get bored listening to the same thing over and over.

I can agree with evrything but Elvis. I can't stand him, just more proof I'm not from this dimension! LOL I especially like Depeche Mode as well as Patsy Cline. Man, she had a voice!

I get nothing but crap from my friends for listening to Depeche Mode. Patsy Cline is one of my guilty pleasures that no one knows about (until now). Some nights, I'm just in the mood for a few hours of Patsy Cline, Hank Williams Sr., and Johnny Cash.

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About me

  • I'm Steve
  • From Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
  • "There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." P.J. O'Rourke
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