A brief history of punk


Elliot Mennel, Staff writer

Edgy fashion, loud music, and unruly behavior have become something commonly associated with the punk genre. Punks, goths, and metalheads have been confused with one another for as long as they have existed. They are all alternative genres with music and style that’s considered less mainstream. Having said that, how are they different? How can these subcultures that seem so similar to an outsider’s perspective be so varied from their very core?

It is essential to acknowledge foremost that the punk genre is so much more than just music and style. Surprisingly, the punk genre started in Southeastern Michigan. The home state of two foundational bands to the genre The Stooges, a Michigan-made band, was led by Iggy Pop, an influential punk singer. MC5, another punk band from Michigan, is well known in the punk community for loud, explosive, and politically charged performances. 

MC5’s politically driven rage is something that has been a staple for all punks that have come after them. When people are angry about something, they often crave change. The passion for change is a very critical part of the genre. One important thing to note about the punk community is that they have a no-tolerance policy for hateful people. People like nazis, racists, sexists, homophobes, and transphobes are seldom welcome in the community. There is a pleasant aura surrounding punk events contrasting the loud, alternative, and unruly atmosphere typically associated with gatherings. 

A common form of punk fashion is patches and pins. This trend started as a way to outwardly display one’s political views, ideologies, and identities on an individual’s sleeve, or rather a jacket, pants, backpack, and more. It is a common motif for punk style to be very expressive. There is no set uniform, and it tends to be a very customizable, personal, and unique style that varies from person to person. These style choices can range from colored hair, DIY clothing, tattoos, piercings, and much more.  

Punk fashion became rampant among young British People in the 1970s. These 70s punks wore the disappointment, rage, and passion of the British youth for the world to see. After world war two Britain fell on economic hardships and social fragmentation. These injustices fueled the need for change that was so important to the early British punks. As more punk bands rose to fame, the punk genre became more and more popular. Some of the most notable bands include Blondie, The Damned, The Clash, The Misfits, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, to name a few.  It was appealing to young people all over the world who felt silenced by older generations. 

The anger at older generations continues to be a common theme for the issues of punk songs and punk fashion to express. In its original incarnation, the punk subculture was primarily concerned with political concepts—these include rebellion, anti-authoritarianism, individual expression, free thought, and discontent. Lyrics about the oppression of minorities, normalization of racism, global warming, and aggressive politics get highlighted in punk songs. Be it subtle or loud; punk singers have a common goal of creating awareness and venting rage about these injustices. 

 Punk going mainstream had begun to create new waves of punks who were more focused on the style and music than the political movement. These types of punks started to take up a majority of the community. However, in our modern world, there has been an uprising of young punks fighting once again as our generation struggles against a broken world left for us to clean up. Be it systematic racism, global warming, or political corruption, and the modern-day punks have once again started fighting.



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