Saturday, July 30, 2011

Thoughts On The Culture I Have An Affinity With.

Thoughts on the culture I have an affinity with.
By Agee Linan

”What we've got is an amalgam of spent ideals, an incomprehensible mismatch of spent ideals. Self-congratulatory edicts spit from gold-plated mouths that will never understand what it means to miss a meal. Don't tell me what I need until you've needed anything. Private-school anarchists with bought trains of thought, donned in T-shirts screaming slogans of wars never fought. And I'm supposed to hide my change? For who and for what? To appease the piss-ants pretending their haves are have-nots? I know what you came out here for.”
As Friends Rust

Hardcore/Punk conceived itself as a reaction against the constants of mainstream culture. It attacks the insensitivity, escapism, consumerism and apathy, which is more than quite often, reflected, concretized and nurtured by it through mainstream culture’s existence. The question now is: why does the “scene” find itself in a state of DENIAL as it contradicts its attempts as an alternative? Examples are followed:

DENIAL. Hardcore zines criticize bands growing beyond their niche amidst cries of SELL OUT!!! And yet they claim that the message of hardcore/punk is important to go around in order to spread “alternative” information and be a threat. Sorry, Hardcore for the Hardcore only.

DENIAL. The kids won’t listen to music on “big” though still independent labels and yet play their CDs on the best sound system equipment made by multinational corporations who slowly kill people in the third world through wage-slave labor. Not to forget their affinity for “hardcore” sporty gear, somehow ignoring the fact that these fashions came out of the blood of sweatshops. Your favorite straightedge youthcrew combo goes paging Nike for endorsement. Everybody wants to be the Tiger Woods or XMikeX Jordan of hardcore.

DENIAL. Everybody criticizes consumerism, yet fall victim to the hunt for that elusive, rare, out of print green 7” of some obscure “legendary” band in auctions that jack up the price a hundred fold? Uh sir, could you call that collectivist materialism?

DENIAL. Kids say that “hardcore” is all about respect and yet do not have the sensitivity to put their words into practice when it’s time to pick up the chicks at the show. Is respect earned as one acquires the chicks and kicks other kids’ butts at the pit? Ohhh,.. Let me touch those muscles, boy.

DENIAL. Kids say that hardcore/punk is all about lyrics, ideas and content, but somehow the ideas gets lost when the time comes for everybody to engage in some ritualistic kickboxing moves on the dance floor, all to the tune of the indecipherable screaming of some person on the mic. “I can’t play soft music because that’s a sell out and its up to the kids to find out what I’m saying.” “Bleaaaurrghh!!!!” Translation: Revolution!!!!

DENIAL. Calls for unity can be heard left and right; but when it comes to practice, in-scene bickering, lack of self-criticism, and backstabbing are seemingly inherent characteristics of the scene. “Yes kids, I know more about anarchy than you do.”

Since the early 80’s, as socio-politically tinged bands took the stage and D.I.Y. started to take form, Punk/Hardcore by some means took up the ideals of changing the world through a cultural movement of sorts (though this idea might be a source of debate). Though there are some substantial changes that have occurred in the “maturing/growing” scene through years, it seems obvious that the scene rarely acted on socio-political matters as an “organized” movement (at least in the Philippine experience), even though there may be a significant number of punk writings on this matter. As I have observed, political concerns were only taken up on the individual level, as manifested in the few independent punk thinkers and a handful of punk activists. 

Some may claim that being punk itself and protesting in silence is the form of dissent they are taking as a reaction to mainstream zombiefication culture. The question/reaction to this position is: “Is it enough to effect social change simply by being hardcore/punk or D.I.Y.?” Even now that D.I.Y. has noticeably becoming an ambiguous term, as compromises are taken into consideration, whenever issues of economic growth and actual engagement comes into mind. 

Also amidst the aforementioned denial/inconsistencies that I have enumerated above, the paradigm is now under question. The practice of professed ideas would seem to be inversely proportional if seen under objectivity. 

Does the kind of social change that the scene aspires to effect occur simply because the kids listen to Youth of Today, Catharsis, Discharge, Code 13, Los Crudos, or even Earth Crisis? Is it enough that the kids read and memorize every word that is written in HeartattaCk, Inside Front, MRR and Punk Planet? What are music, lyrics and printed words if not put into consistent and contextualized actions? They are nothing but just that.

Ideas from lyrics and reading materials are things that may be the starting point of something, but it is not the end all of punk/hardcore culture. The kids can arm themselves with the ideas from such sources, analyze their applicability in the local context, put them into action as personal/individual choices, and then educate/organize others to effect a movement. Only as an organized whole can we substantiate the change we want to make.

One has to understand that punk/hardcore youth culture is a means for empowerment; it has long escaped from the confines of just being music to rock out to. Punk adheres to D.I.Y. ethic to show that independence is empowerment. It is in the wielders’ hands to realize that they have the power to effect change, but are we prepared to take up on that challenge? The question still remains.

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