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Punk Rock 101: Dressing "punk" verses being Punk

Posted on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 in Punk Rock 101

There are lots of people out there who dress “punk” but very few punks. If all the kids who talked the talked, walked the walked, the world would be amazing. But this is not the case. Most of the time these punks are little more than frat boys in leather jackets. My friend Alex suggested that I write about the difference.

First off, anyone who claims to be a “real” punk is a poseur. It is impossible to be a real punk in capitalistic America. From the clothes you wear to the food you buy to the gas that gets you around – someone is being exploited. No one’s hands are clean. We are all guilty by association or are we the mere victim of society? Anyways, the crust punks you see begging for change for money to do drugs: not punk. They are still living off the system by being leeches. They still depend on money and the system. Plus, they smell bad and are annoying. Most of the time, when they are done playing street rat, they have a trust fund waiting at home.

Drinking, doing drugs, and smoking: Not punk rock. The beer you drink is made by some corporation that is doing evil things to the world. The drugs you buy are transported and damage lives. The cigarette companies are terrible plus harmful to the environment and yourself. Putting chemicals in your body is self-destructive and irresponsible. Imagine if people stopped smoking, doing drugs, and drinking and put that money and time to changing the world: that’s punk rock.

Being punk is all about a mindset. It’s about thinking for yourself, being independent, and not a sheep. Most people who dress punk are assholes and violent – thanks to the media representation of punk rock to give punk rockers a bad name. A real punk is probably one of the nicest people you will ever meet because they know the world is a cesspool and the only way things are going to change is if the people change. Be that change.

People who are activists are punk rock. People trying to make the world loving, tolerant, equal, and free from oppressions are punk rock. People wearing a punk uniform and doing what they think they should do rather than what they know they should do: not punk rock. People getting an education to change the system from within: punk rock. Someone dressing punk who listens to punk music but remains ignorant: not punk rock.

Listening to punk music doesn’t make you punk rock. Dressing in punk clothes doesn’t make you punk rock. Being DIY (do it yourself), learning, growing, and sharing are all punk rock. Just being a good human being is punk rock.

Bring on the comments

  1. Alex says:

    Awesome! I’m glad you mentioned the drugs/smoking/drinking thing too.

  2. mandy says:

    ha! I just left that comment in your newest entry before reading this one. It appears we are on the exact same page 🙂

  3. Pythos says:

    You think you got it bad?:)

    Several years ago two screwed up little jackasses went into a school dressed all in black, and proceeded to unleash all holy hell upon it.

    The media and police did something that I think was entirely unforgivable. They identified these two monsters….as Goth.

    This resulted in my black clad brethren, my gloomy sisters, our odd little group of artistic pacifists with eyes for beauty in the unusual and or dark to be labeled killers, and nut cases.

    Several of us found that we had to hide our selves out of the public eye. It became more acceptable for kids to look like full out thugs, and carry the associated attitude, than it did for guys to wear black eyeliner, and or dark colored clothing of fancy and tasteful design.

    I myself had to tone down my only just starting wardrobe, due to my elder’s irrational attitude.

    Then, several years later those news agencies, and police officers that incorrectly identified these killers as Goth, came out and admitted they were mistaken. They then described what was found on the bodies and homes of the Collumbine shooters.

    1) Both shooters had red laces in their combat boots, a known signifier of White supremacist groups.
    2) At one of the shooter’s homes were carved swastikas nazi flags, copies of Mein Kaumph (which is not a signifier on its own, being the student of history I have a copy myself)
    3) Literature pertaining to the KKK, and Neo Nazis.


    Yet years later I am still having to tell my mother Goths are not killers, they are not satanists (for the most part), or anything like that.

    But the damage is done.

  4. Jess Five says:

    That’s what happened to punk in the 80’s. The media portrayed punks as being violent assholes and it attracted those people to the scene. It happens to every subculture that’s outside of the norm, unfortunately.

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