Punk Rock Is Good for Those Kids

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Forewarning*: I know some people will probably read this and tell me a horror story about how so and so music is wrong and ruined their cousin’s great-aunt’s brother-in-law’s brother.  I don’t think that ALL punk rock is good for ALL kids. There are unstable people in every group and you never know what will set them off. There are always a few bands who aren’t ideal, in fact they probably shouldn’t ever play, for anyone. In the end, if you don’t like the music, don’t listen to it. 

Iakov Filimonov / Shutterstock.com

This past weekend I went to my first punk rock show.  Nobodys, Guttermouth, and Pennywise were there. I don’t really listen to much punk rock, but of course I’d heard various songs from many different groups in this genre. Punk rock is primal and gets into your bones. It’s music you can’t walk away from without thinking about it.

Over half of the kids there for the first band were young, late teens, early twenties. Average kids, mostly.  While the band, Nobodys, played, these kids “danced.” You can’t really call it dancing, they thrashed, they jumped, they moshed. It was aggressive. They slammed each other, pushed each other, but always helped each other up. If one guy went down, three more were there to pick him up.

Punk Rock is good for your kids. 

Why?

  • They have a release – they have a chance to get out the aggression in a non-criminal way.
  • Punk rock encourages social consciousness and thinking outside the box. The people who live the punk rock lifestyle advocate for the weak and demand social justice.
  • If they don’t fit in anywhere else, they will probably fit in with punk rock.

Primal Release

When I read this bit about metal, I realized you could take out metal and insert punk rock.

Metal [punk rock] teaches people to leave the old ways and live a wild life without any constraints it teaches the man to turn it’s back to the old ways and look for a new order of things.

I think metal [punk rock] teaches man to rebel against any set government authorities and life order.

This kind of music preaches complete freedom from any normal habits, it pushes the fan to live on the edge, get the best of life, rarely talking about the consequences on the person who grasps this abnormal ways (ideas). 

Georgi D. Georgiev

However, these punk rock kids rarely get into trouble. They don’t commit crimes. They live out their primal instincts and urges in the “mosh” pit at concerts.

Keith Morris, front man of the Circle Jerks, commented in "American Hardcore"

“I hate my job, I hate my boss, I hate the people that I work with, I hate my parents, everyone’s poking their finger at me everyone’s bugging me, Friday a punk show comes around and I have a chance to go off” .

My husband noted that kids from the South hunt and that is their way to get out the primal urges. Kids, especially boys, need an outlet, it’s that simple. They need a way to get out the extra energy, the aggression. It’s not just about running ten miles or lifting weights for half an hour, they need to exert the aggression.

We need to stop telling our boys to sit still and be quiet. They need a place to get it all out. This can be that place.

Social Accountability

“Music is a voice for change, if people don’t use it for that, if they just use it to be hip or cool, they aren’t taking full advantage of it.” -Steven Blush

Punk rock music speaks out against social standards they don’t agree with.

Sonic Youth had a song on their 1992 record Dirty titled “Youth Against Fascism”, and it had the lyric “I believe Anita Hill/Judge will rot in hell” on it. It almost feels like an understatement to say that this lyric blew my mind. A man standing up for a woman—a woman he didn’t know, especiallly—in a dispute between a man and a woman over sexualized mistreatment?” -Amanda Marcotte 

Spencer Ackerman wrote about his teenage years and the positive influence punk rock had on him. He was part of a “punk club,” ABC No Rio, in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Every weekend bands would perform and the teens would share in the collective responsibility of setting up, cleaning up and keeping the order.  He called it “the punk rock version of the Boys & Girls Club.”

“It socialized me and shaped my values. If you wanted to be part of the committee that booked bands, planned events and made decisions about the direction of the venue, then all you had to do was show up, commit to clean the place up, and submit your suggestion for consensus. That was DIY, an ethic that became a religion and taught teenagers about individual and collective responsibility.

Most importantly: it was supposed to be a place where you would be made to feel unwelcome if you groped someone in the pit; if you made a homophobic or racist remark; or if you engaged in otherwise destructive behavior.

You could be drunk or high and have sex — you weren’t supposed to be, but no one was really going to stop you — but if that translated into behavior that threatened others, your ass would be kicked out. It was filled with contradictions — a scene that supposedly glorified nihilism and free expression being so rigid? — but they were resolved, intellectually speaking, according to the baseline principle that those were the basic social responsibilities needed for the world in which we wanted to live to exist, a haven from the aggravating bullshit around us.”

How can we say an ethos like that is wrong? The genre is telling the truth, the way they see life, the way they see politics and not whitewashing it because their are kids out there. They are giving responsibility to kids and asking them, “What are you going to do with it?”

Too many kids are growing up entitled and expecting society to give them everything. It’s not real life and it isn’t going to happen. Punk rock has a history of “do it yourself” and make it happen.

Fitting in with the Misfits

There are lots of kids that don’t fit in. They aren’t jocks, they aren’t cheerleaders, they aren’t at the top of the class or the bottom of the class, they aren’t dressed like everyone else, the list goes on and on. The bottom line: they’ll fit in with the punk rock crowd.

Punk rock is not exclusive, it is inclusive.  As Ackerman stated, punk rock was supposed to be a place where the instigators and, for lack of a better word, the mean people, were not accepted. You are encouraged to be yourself, be who you are. If you don’t have a crowd, make your own.

Saturday night I saw many different kinds of people. I briefly talked with a 39-year-old mom who was keeping an eye on her teenage son and some of his friends. Many of the people there were in their 30’s and 40’s. They had been fans of Pennywise since the beginning. The kids had nothing on these middle aged punk rockers.

If you have some aggression, some primal urge to get everything off your chest in a wild and crazy way, this is a great way to do it. Find a punk band you like, turn it up loud, and move until you can’t move anymore.

 *It’s not a forward, it’s a forewarning, you are warned before you read that this will probably ruffle your feathers, if you are uptight like that.

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