The Death of Punk Is Brought To You By...

by Gerrit Kat

For years I’ve waved a middle finger at the mundane and mediocre fashions and trends that seem to define the small town in which I live. Now I’m a very understanding person, I am not blindly prejudiced against anyone and everyone who does not share my taste in music and clothing. People who genuinely like how they look in pink and blue and Roxy and Nike deserve just as much respect as we who love ourselves in self-altered creations and band tees. It was those who follow the media-inspired trends that turned my stomach so. With the rising influence of hip-hop and rap it seems most are content to don the sideways visors or baseball caps and matching fluorescent sports jerseys and track pants. What has upset me is the fact that these individuals have thrown away the idea of looking like themselves for the premise of looking like their favorite rapper.

“The wardrobe I’d lived my life in had become popularized and my individuality had been hidden beneath a blanket of fashionable-anarchists.”

And this trend hasn’t just dug its teeth into fashion: many words spoken now by rich children raised in suburbia and given $20,000 cars for their birthday show that they have decided they’ve had the “hard-knock life” of a child born in poverty in a New York ghetto and talk accordingly. I have great respect for those who have worked hard in any fashion to bring themselves out of poverty and rough environments to achieve something good, and I don’t ostracize the rappers for their craft but rather the mindless zombies who are content to follow the trends in order to help themselves look “cool.”

I’ve lived my life in combat boots, spikes, chains, and patches and taken all the pressure and pains that comes with the territory. I’ve been assaulted, insulted, and generally shunned because I don’t fit snugly into the fashionable. The way I dress is a reflection of myself, someone who wants to break free from what this world considers normal. I’ve been asked to remove myself from the school premises upon wearing a "Bad Religion" shirt (and I thought I was attending a public school!), and I’ve been threatened with criminal charges for donning spikes and chains with my regular apparel. I’ve even been threatened with death, for my audacity in wearing a fishnet shirt and black make-up and nail polish to school on the odd occasion.

I had succeeded in my efforts to shake things up and unsettle those who can’t understand individuality. My life had been lived well in my eyes; I turned deaf ears to the propaganda of common fashion and tastes. But my life-long independance from the mainstream soon became lost in a tidal wave of fashionable rebellion in my final year of high school.

When Blink 182 came into mass popularity, the scene became more common. Now, my bondage pants and safety-pinned, torn-up shirts had maintained their uniqueness as only the skateboarder form of punk rock had become cool. The guys started wearing camo and getting pierced in more places then their ears, and the Britney Spears look-alikes swooned and flirted with the trendy punkness of their cohorts. I shrugged my shoulders because the diluted form of punk lifestyle that had become trendy was still nothing when contrasted with the unique style that I and some friends of mine still maintained. Good Charlotte and Avril Lavigne soon arrived to spawn from the popularity of skate-punk music and donned the "cutting-edge" look.

And as pseudo-punk music spread, so did the pseudo-punk trend. Soon dog collars and mohawks were the norm, as were band tees, spiked bracelets and chains. The wardrobe I’d lived my life in had become popularized and my individuality had been hidden beneath a blanket of fashionable-anarchists. People soon found it “cool” to wear anarchy patches and ostracize government officials and law enforcement.

A friend of mine and I had begun work on our NFP organization based upon the principles of Marxist Anarcho-Communism, and were shocked at the sudden onset of anti-establishment ideals. Of course, despite their “rage toward the corporate machine” they still wore the oh-so-punk-rock clothing made by brands like Roxy and Parasuco. Their hatred of government was a weakened and diluted version of the formerly uncommon and unfashionable rebellion that I and several of my cohorts had proudly shown for years. It had seemed that the true meaning of rebellion and anti-establishment sentiment had been drowned in the flood of fashionable alienation that was brought to us by all major corporate brands. My friends and I mourned our loss, the very things we were once despised and shunned for had made us.... trendy.

Back in the ’80s people predicted the punk movement would die out quickly as soon as the music lost its popularity with the angst-ridden, rebellious youth. But the movement now faces an even greater threat, the very loss of its definition at the hands of the popular kids and their “I’m gonna piss off mommy and daddy” forms of rebellion and mock-individuality. I, for one, know that I will always continue to stand fast against the establishment, and against the fashionable and the trendy. And even if punk forever loses its true definition I’ll still know what it means, because what it means is who I am.

Gerrit Kat’s been living against the norm for all his life. He’s a small town outcast and loving every second of it.