I watched the Sex Pistols documentary, The Filth and the Fury, last night. As I sang along to almost every song -- except the indecipherable parts, of course, I've never figured those words out -- I remembered how I used to love being a punker chic.
I never dyed my hair, though I did cut it short. It was too curly for spikes so it just looked like a failed attempt to mimic Ronald McDonald's style. But I was a combat boot and short skirts kinda girl as a teen. And I did love thick, dark, messy eyeliner.
I was attracted to punk because of the anarchist message, the idea that you could be whoever you wanted, do whatever you wanted, despite the millions of messages we received each day through social pressures and mass media about what we should be like, what we should look like, what we should do in order to be "normal." Punk taught us that in reality there is no such thing as normal.
That is, until punk became normal.
At one point in the movie, Johnny Rotten sneers at the "rich kids" who started coming to his shows and says something like, "They started dressing alike, and we knew that was the end of punk." And sure enough, there were the clips of show-goers all gussied up in their spiked leather jackets and ripped jeans and safety pin collages.
I have made this same observation, though I attributed it to modern music. (I should have known Johnny Rotten thought of it first.) My kids listen to horrorcore, rap and punk, and when asked, will tell you it's because the music is anti-establishment, anti-normal, anti-group think. They say they like being "different" than the crowd. Then they will don their hatchetman necklaces and requisite Psychopathic Records clothing and Chucks so that other people on the street can be sure to recognize that they are a "Juggalo" too.
Some people fear that the Juggalos are a new gang. Well, they said that about punk, too, back in the '70s. The media called the Sex Pistols a new "cult." But those people who miscategorize kids who listen to unsavory music as cult members or gang members fail to understand. The kids are looking for a way to express their dissatisfaction with the adults in power. And since they feel powerless to make change on their own, the only way they can gain power is to do so through numbers. So they join a group, that in their minds, expresses and represents anti-power.
When you're young, you often fail to identify irony. And that's why my kids roll their eyes when I laugh at their silly clown get-ups and tell them to pull their pants up.
I wonder if they would laugh at me if I were to pick them up from school wearing combat boots and my face smeared with eyeliner with Johnny Rotten screaming, "Mommy! I'm not an animal!" or "I am an anti-Christ! I am an anarchist!" through my Chevy's speakers.