Friday Ephemera
Elsewhere (143)

Big If

More niche sorrows from a certain newspaper:

If punk is the ultimate anti-establishment scene, why is it still run by all these white men?

And so we find “would-be musicologist” and transgender punk musician Alyssa Kai pining for a cartoon scene that reality can’t live up to: 

DIY punk – with its self-released music, non-corporate labels, cheap all-age shows in basements – embraces those things not as means toward corporate success, but as intrinsically worthwhile tools to build authentic rebellion and powerful community.

She wants none of that “corporate success,” which entails “getting signed, getting famous, getting a world tour,” terrible things like that. No, Ms Kai wants “authentic rebellion” and the purest of motives. Inevitably, disappointment looms:

Our authenticity [is] built on false premises of what it means to be “true” to punk in a messed-up, still-exclusionary scene made up of mostly white, abled middle-class men who make and buy most of the music.

Yes, too many punk musicians - and too many of their fans - are white, male and able-bodied. Will the horror never end? Apparently, our “would-be musicologist” is unfamiliar with the genres afro-punk and queercore, to say nothing of Pussy Riot, Pansy Division, Dinah Cancer and of course The Slits. 

And then it gets worse.

Without warning, in the audience or on a stage, I’ll hear someone say, “This song is about feminism,

Yay. Girl power.

which means: How hard it is to have a vagina in this world!”

Oh dear. Major gaffe. Ixnay on the v.j. 

And I’m suddenly… excluded from the supposedly ultra-inclusive community I’m trying to build.

Because feminist punk that doesn’t nod to transgendered women and their pseudo-vaginas is just no punk at all.

Naturally, it’s all the fault of capitalism:

However anti-establishment in spirit, punk has always been tied to money… Even if rebellious energy or violent imagery remains in the music, economically speaking, punk is just another sales category to the male-dominated establishment... While the genre hasn’t yet torn down the state apparatus, it has enacted that state’s violence on the lower class, non-white, disabled and non-men folks in the scene.

And so despite the “rebellious energy” and all that alluring “violent imagery,” Ms Kai’s politically corrected punk utopia slips even further out of reach. We’ll need towels for those tears.