After watching the splendid American Hardcore Friday night, Ryan and I got to talking. Hardcore originally came from a time of great disdain for the current Republican administration. Ronald Reagan was the target of many, and as Henry Rollins puts it in the film, "oranges were hurled." Young people were pissed not just at politics, but the world around them. They wanted to do something drastically different from the norm. The deal is, Ryan and I wonder why there hasn't been something similar with George W. Bush's term in office.
I could be completely overlooking something here, but here's my take.
For one, back in '80-'85, there was no Warped Tour. There was no Green Day. There was no blink-182. And losers, drop-outs, nerds, punks, and angry youth were not mass-marketed to. If anything, hardcore was seen as a failure of society. It was what wayward, problem kids were into, as seen in unintentionally funny episodes of Quincy and CHiPs. It's what reportedly caused $250,000 worth of damage on a Halloween episode of Saturday Night Live (though it was actually $2,500). In other words, it was a threat.
Ever since the first wave of hardcore, things haven't been the same, for better or worse. Things splintered and splintered some more. You had post-hardcore, emo, straight edge, metal-tinged hardcore and so on. Post-Dookie (and especially post-Enema of the State), the mainstream's view of punk and its hardcore spawn has been much more welcoming. What is sold as youthful rebellion and anger is very much from a marketing angle. This has been this way for a long time and I doubt it's going to change.
Teenagers could very well think punk and hardcore is what Alternative Press, Fuse and the Warped Tour covers. For those outlets, they listen and care about what their audience wants. So it doesn't surprise me by how well they do what they do. But I wonder about the people who reject all this stuff. I'm talking people who cannot relate to the struggles of Panic! At the Disco, Taking Back Sunday and The Academy Is . . . I'm talking the people that don't like going to the Warped Tour. I'm talking the people that want to actually develop a band instead of getting on the fast track to fame. Where are these people? I know they're out there, but I'm just curious if they're speaking up.
I still believe there's a sharp difference between what gets promoted and what's really out there. It's difficult for me to gauge because of where I am in my life and where I live. I don't live in the suburbs. I don't have teenage children. I'm not in high school. If there's any sort of alternative to mall punk/screamo/emo, I haven't found it. But something tells me I'll hear an alternate history of this time that was completely under my nose. And that is pretty promising. But for now, things are very foggy.