Punk Profile As a kid around the age of 15, I was lost and confused. I knew that I didn’t have it all together, and everywhere I looked people acted as if they did. My thoughts and ideas would change day to day as I talked to one person and then the next. I needed a concrete feeling. I tried going to church and finding a release through God, but I was unable to believe.
I tried looking at all my friends, but they were all naive, so I turned to music. Music has become my religion, it clearly defines the questions I have no answers to. I found that everything that irritated me also irritated the people in the bands I started listening to. People label this type of music as “punk.” “Punk” is defined in Webster’s New World Dictionary as “a loud, fast, and deliberately offensive style of rock music,” and it defines “a punk” as “a) a young hoodlum b) a young person regarded as inexperienced, insignificant, etc. 1[slang] poor; inferior.” That is the worst misinterpretation I have ever come across. The members of many punk bands have gone to college and are quite intellectual.
Intellect is the basis of a punk attitude. Punk is about change, and as defined by the band, Propagandhi, “The basis of change: educate!/Derived from discussion, not hate, not myth, not muscle, not etiquette./ Intellect, not ‘re-elect!’ Status symbols yield to respect between sex, species, environment..yup!” (Propagandhi, “Hate, Myth, Muscle, Etiquette”). Punk songs aren’t about going out and doing drugs, breaking things, and harassing people, they are about life, life as a kid. And since I’m “not really understanding what it takes to be a man, I think I’ll stay a kid while I can” (Assorted Jelly Beans, “Plain Life”). It gives people permission to act 18 when they are 50. Punk lifestyles are full of a positive energy that many people lose when they “grow up.” Existing as a punk takes the concepts of being an adult and combines them with being a kid.
The result is a much simpler and entertaining life. The first issue that punk music covered for me was religion. I felt like everyone had some higher power to look to when things didn’t work out, everyone but me. I couldn’t conform myself to the ideas of a higher power because the interpretations of reality that brings seem so dillusional to me. There appears to be so many unheard truths in lyrics like, “They say I shouldn’t commit no crime/cos Jesus Christ is watching all the time,/ so what, so what./ So what if he’s always over my shoulder./ I realize the truth as I get older/.
I get to see what a con it is, because it’s my life,/ mine, not his” (Crass, “So What”). I always felt that if there was an almighty and pure God that He/She would not make rules like “obey no God other than me.” Where does that leave everyone raised under any other religion? A child in India will most likely be raised as a Buddhist or some religion other than Christianity. It is not their fault that they don’t follow the Christian God, especially if they haven’t heard of the Christian God. I don’t see the sense in a all powerful God who shows less sensitivity to people who don’t ultimately have the choice of who they follow. Furthermore, any God that is supposedly for the good of mankind should be more concerned with the moral actions of mankind than their preferences of faith .
And how could a Savior expect to be worshipped by everyone under the circumstances of today’s world. Life isn’t fair, so how does that play into an equal religion for all? Hearing the song “No” by the Subhumans brings this thought to an all new reality. The lead singer claims, “No, I don’t believe in Jesus Christ./ My mother died of cancer when I was five./ No, I don’t believe in religion./ I was forced to go to church and I wasn’t told why.” At one time I felt alone with these ideas, all my family and friends followed the God in which I was detached. I felt like I was doing something terribly wrong, like I had to conform. But when I started hearing these same thoughts in punk music for the first time I felt secure in my own disbeliefs.
“Beliefs are dangerous./ Beliefs allow the mind to stop functioning./ A non-functioning mind is clinically dead./ Believe in nothing..” (Tool, Insert). I couldn’t understand the irony in wasting one’s life in hope that it would bring a better death. “Seems like a tragic waste of time, who cares what happens when you die? Life’s too short to wonder why, get on with your life” (Pennywise, “Waste of Time”). The “bible” I follow is written by thousands of individuals expressing their concerns through music. This is something I can follow more than some million year old scripture about a supernatural savior. Life is far more complicated than religion.
It is easy to scapegoat problems off some devil or think that you can do wrong as long as you ask for forgiveness. The ideas seem great, but the reality doesn’t seem to exist to me. I’m not saying that these things don’t exist, but that I have yet to be convinced and until that time I am not going to waste my life running in circles, chasing something I’ll never catch. When I convey these thoughts to most people they tell me “How sad that you have fallen victim to this music that has brought you to be so apathetic.” And I think, “How sad it is that you are blinded to life and apathetic to your existence,” for punk music doesn’t place these thoughts in anyone’s head. It merely suggests them as an alternate way of thinking.
The idea has to be planted before the music can make it flourish. The idea that has to be your own. Ideas are a major concept among punks. Thinking for yourself and choosing your own destiny, that is the freedom involved in punk. By not giving into the ranks of anyone but themselves, punks are true people.
A solid reflection of what their society has brought them to be. A true punk will freely express his or her opinions as clearly and inoffensively as possible, not to say that anyone is wrong, but to express another idea. Punks thoroughly believe that open communication is the key to a better existence. That is why they so strongly stress speaking one’s mind and being heard. Husker Du bluntly covers this point in the song “Afraid of Being Wrong”, by singing “You’re afraid, you’re afraid of being wrong./ Always be the passive one and go along./ You’re afraid, you’re afraid to speak your mind./ That’s not for me, not for me,/ not for me” (Husker Du, “Afraid of Being Wrong”). Along with freely expressing one’s ideas, punks encourage people to do something with their opinions.
This is well stated by Propagandhi in the song “Showdown,” which states “All these words are boring. It’s time for action” (Propagandhi, “Showdown”). It’s not about sitting around and complaining, but about complaining to those in power, or to empower oneself. Jello Biafra, lead singer of one of the most controversial and political of punk bands, the Dead Kennedy’s, ran for governor of Florida. Punks thrive on getting things done, on making a difference, saving the world.
These ideas seem to be repeated constantly by politicians and different activist groups around the world who try to get people to care and express their thoughts. Punks are doing just as much if not more good than many of these people. Punks are responsible, for example the millions of different “Zines” going around. A Zine is a photocopied, handmade, mini magazine, the purpose of which is stated best by Revolution Poppycock, a new and influential Zine in this area: “Revolution Poppycock is a sampling of what we do and believe, as well as suggestions about what you can do. Revolution Poppycock is a collective/collection of social and political ideas and opinions. We are writing this mostly from an anarchist perspective, but we believe that their is always “another side to the story,” so we welcome all viewpoints and ideas. We hope that we will get enough participation out of ourselves, our friends and our readers that we can eliminate any sort of political alignment from dominating the paper – we honor diversity.
We are not trying to force our ideals onto anyone, but rather to open lines of communication, express ourselves and put out ideas. Feel free to agree or disagree – just so long as you first listen to and think about what we have to say – just so long as you give a shit. The majority of idiots in this world are closed-minded idiots. Our purpose is to bring information to people that would otherwise not necessarily have access to it and, in doing so, encourage everyone to think more for themselves. With this in mind, we are attempting to distribute Revolution Poppycock to many different types of people – not just the punk/anarchist community that would normally have access to this sort of literature (we would very much like a lot of response from them, though). Continually preaching to the converted is masturbation. It accomplishes nothing, except getting off on ourselves.
Instead, we hope to encourage activity and involvement in the face of apathy from everyone, so we’re inviting (pleading, in fact) anyone who reads this and has an opinion to write us letters and submit articles (or poetry, or comix, or interviews, etc..). We’ll gladly print what YOU have to say. Mostly, we’re asking everyone to actually care and think about what goes on around them; for everyone to get off their lazy asses and do something about it. Your contributions will make further issues of this Zine better for everyone, so please write us and tell us what you think.” These Zines all have similar articles written within their first few pages describing ultimately the exact same thing. This is done out of total care for the community it is done in, for Zine’s are rarely paid for. For the most part, they are completely free for anyone. People design them, make photocopies, and leave them on counters in music stores, at concerts, or anywhere an interested audience may be found.
In a nutshell, that is a punk existence all summed up by a Zine. That is the whole idea behind being a punk. Uniting all, not into one, but into all. Having everyone come together as individuals and remain that way, but to come together. Unity is a huge thing in the punk community.
It is not at all uncommon to find the word painted on some punk’s jacket or heard in a song. As stated by Operation Ivy in “Unity,” which says “Unity, unity, you’ve heard it all before, this time it’s not exclusive we want to stop a war. Unity as one, stand together, unity, evolution’s gonna come! There ain’t nothing wrong with another unity song” (Operation Ivy, “Unity”). Now with these ideals and morals fueling each punk’s existence, I don’t see how punk music got a reputation for being deliberately offensive or how punks got labeled as inexperienced and insignificant. I find it quite humorous to read in a dictionary that the word punk is used in conjunction with the words poor and inferior. Punk music is indeed my inspiration.
If someone wants to think that this makes me inferior and insignificant, I would just like to ask them when doing things to unite and empower one another became so disreputable.