Saturday, June 20, 2015

No Future

This blog has been created as a forum to dig deeper into why punk and hardcore isn't a sustainable culture. Our mutual hope in the outcome of this blog is that opening up a constructive and critical analysis of the foundation for free thinking youth (punk/ hardcore scenes) will be the beginning of problem solving the issue these scenes have with creating space for marginalized people. That is what we believe is the cancer that is killing the culture that makes us who we are and why it can't grow into something productive and ultimately beneficial to the societal outcasts it was originally intended for.

As it stands the scenes we are familiar with are riddled with all of the worst ism's and phobia's our larger society has to offer. We don't generally experience things like racism or homophobia on a direct enough level for most people to understand that these things are genuine concerns that harm the longevity and well being of a scene.

Starting small and as broad as possible we'll touch on classism. It doesn't feel tangible to a lot of people active in the scene here in town but it's devisive enough to hinder the scene from flourishing to its full potential. In our minds a flourishing scene would be extremely diverse. The more diversity you have the more creative energy and effort you have contributing to nurture the scene. 

Classism, by definition, is "prejudice against or in favor of people belonging to a particular social class.". Classism can be and in our scene is a huge dividing factor. As much as people try to deprogram their minds against our larger society's "keeping up with the Jones'" mentality we are drawn to people we want to be like. When you meet someone you go based on looks first, it's a seriously long and probably never ending process to unlearn this. It might even be a more primal thing, but everyone does it so don't front like you don't. It's easy in a scene where you came up in it being called a poser and having to prove yourself, to hold new kids to the same standards of initiation. "Posers" are typically pegged as such for not looking the part or for not "knowing their shit". Looking the part whether you're a punk in studs, patches, and leather or hardcore in band shirts, brand name shoes, and camo cargo shorts (I'm generalizing and probably dating myself here but bear with me) isn't fucking cheap! I've never been able to maintain a "punk" aesthetic up to my own standards let alone anyone else's and I've identified as one for 17 fucking years. I kicked around the straightedge hardcore scene for years too and I couldn't afford skinny jeans AND new balances AND a band shirt from every show. I was just trying to figure out how to get a ride and afford getting into the show at all and they were all $5. If I was more comfortable and probably if I was a dude (there's another "ism" for another day) I don't know how I would dream of affording gear to be IN a band. The money flow just was not there. I didn't have an allowance. I had lunch money and I'd skip meals to afford to hang out with my friends and support local bands. And to clarify even further I didn't come from a family below the poverty line. I grew up in an affluent part of the city but my parents weren't supporting my pursuit of being a punk rocker. 

BUT my story isn't everyone's story. In fact the town we're from is currently the 6th poorest large city in America. The census report for our town from 2009-2013 shows that more than 25% of our city lives below poverty level. An entire quarter of our city. That's a lot of people a lot worse off than I was and those kids need punk too. Fuck, they need it more. Being broke, being pissed, being stuck. Punk and hard core are incredible outlets for your grievances with the society we're all stuck in. It sucks to think those kids miss out. Even if they do make it out to a show it's likely it's not every single one. If they make it out to most can they afford a shirt? A record? Will you take them seriously or approach them if they don't and you can't identify with them because they aren't dressed the part or they don't earn enough punk points after some shitty quiz you hit them with on the spot about some shitty band?

Ok, so classism in action. Ready? One of my most frustrating moments at a show was around 2011/12. My boyfriend was in a band and wanted me to see them play. I was broke and he said he was pretty sure I could get in for free. I got there late and they had already started playing so I walked up to go inside and the girl running the door stopped me and asked for money. I explained that I knew someone in the band and was told I would be let in for free, she wasn't having it so I said "ok" and went and sat down on the curb out front. No big deal, there would be another show right? Right, except for what happened next. I sat there on my phone, alone, waiting when I hear the door girl start going on about how she wished she could "just fuck somebody and get into shows for free.". It went on and on, her berating me to two guys laughing and avoiding eye contact with me as she tore me down for even daring to assume I could come in to see a local band play for free. 

One of the boys she was ranting at was the guy who RAN the space. It sucked. It made me feel like total shit for not having money and for even being there and I'm already insecure and hoping to be accepted so triple ouch. The guy who ran the space never stepped in and called her off. He just giggled and blushed at the gall of the girl for tearing into me when I was sitting 10 feet away within earshot. I wasn't going to argue. I never intended to. I honestly didn't even care about the band beyond being invited and wanting to be supportive.

 I never went to another show at that venue. I didn't go to any show for probably a year after that. I had zero interest in being treated so poorly for not being able to cough up $3. I just didn't have it and I wasn't going to be taking up space that a paying person needed. So i said fuck hardcore. That girl wasn't even local and because of who she knew, how she dressed, and how loud and domineering she was it left no space for me to even feel comfortable to try and come back. So that's one less person going to your shows. The person who couldn't dress the part enough to not be questioned when three other dudes ahead of me did. The person with no friends to loan me the cover because I didn't get a chance to know anyone. And officially no reason to stick around. 

We could piss and moan about people sneaking into shows for free or how no one wants to pay but this was not a thing I did regularly. That night I just wanted to hang out and I didn't have to cash. So as a result those kids never got my support or the support of my friends again because they were total turds and way beyond out of line for shitting on me about it the way she did for 20 minutes. Maybe I'm special and she only ever had that one blow up but I highly doubt it. That shit starts to add up quick ya'll.

Later that night when another band went on in the middle of the set 3 young kids poored out the door. One of their noses got broken because a notorious asshole mosh turd smashed into him. I'd bet everything I have to this day it was intentional because that's what this kid does. He smashes people he doesn't know or accept. He treated them like disposable trash he could hurt with no consequences and have the support and validation of his friends who more than likely were just glad to be keeping the bully on their side instead of being the poser getting their nose crushed and sent to the e.r. 

A few kids came out to check on him but the scene regulars were nowhere to be found and the jerk who hurt the kid walked right past him laughing with his friends. Senseless violence from an at least 200lb man directed on a 15 year old 110 lb kid. To add insult to injury here, imagine being 15, convincing your parents to let you go to a show, convincing them it's not dangerous or a bad crowd to be around, and then coming home with a broken nose and an e.r. bill you can't afford. 

If that was me at 15 I'd be done as far as my parents were concerned and I had insurance. I hope this kid did too but nobody ever thinks about that shit and that's the problem. Everyone thinks everyone's got it the same if not better and that's just not realistic. Those kids never came back either. They probably went to another venue to try their luck there, but they'd been treated like they weren't people. So, what do you expect?  

Kids complain all the time that people need to show up for shows. They need to pay. They need to buy a record and support the touring band and I'm all for it IF (big big if here guys) people can do it, but A) say it with me now, NOT EVERYONE CAN, at least not every time and B) where's the expectations to take care of each other? Where's the concern with furthering the scene by embracing new people? Where's the ideology that money is a systematic tool to hold people down when YOU are acting as the machine you supposedly are fighting against? and you're the one treating people that aren't dressed like you or who can't afford to get in like complete and literal garbage there solely for your disposal to entertain yourself and your friends with however you feel... Does that not ring a loud clear irony bell? How is that supporting the scene if only people like you are welcome? Where is there room for growth if everyone is the same and you create a bottle neck at the door for new blood to come in and keep shit going when you get old and don't want to do this full time like you did when you were young? Gate Keepers really fuck everything up. I know it's fun to be different and whatever but are you really doing that if you can't accept the differences in others? Be real here though, this specifically stems from an insecurity of your prepackaged individuality being challenged by someone who's interested in the same things as you you know? It's cool, we all do it. Just accept it, pick it apart, and do something about it.

That's all for now nerds. Think about this stuff. Try not to take it as a personal attack. I'm just trying to point out what I see and what I've experienced and how to make shit better because at the end of the day I wouldn't be who I am without this bullshit scene and I don't want to deprive anyone from the good things you can take away from it. And if you relate to this issue or have another experience that made you feel excluded in some sort of way write to us about it at shedding light on these kinds of experiences to paint a more complete picture of the stuff people go through navigating through these scenes is the only way we're going to be able to work on it as a community.

Take care of each other, take care of your scene, and thanks for reading,