THE DAY PUNK ROCK BECAME A PUSSY.

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My ideas of what missing right now.

What is surely needed came to me when I find myself watching the play Punk Rock at Dunedin’s Fortune Theatre in 2015.

The play Punk Rock is based on the pressure our youth face to conform in a world of heightened anxiety fear and confusion over where exactly one belong and what ideas are acceptable and what ideas are not in a changing landscape where the role of gender class and sexuality are not what they use to be. A place which eagerly wants to put people into their definable sub-classes but not to give them a voice but rather to take control so we do as we’re told. The play in fact beyond its title has little to do with Punk Rock other than the playwright Simon Stephens makes the astute observation;


“Punk rock is not a musical genre. Punk rock is not even as simple as a state of mind. Punk rock is an energy of total interrogation. Born out of New York CIty in the wake of the collapse of the hippies, it spanned the world on Tom Verlaine’s guitar and Patti Smith’s back and John Cale’s violin. Some of the Brits got it but mainly Mark E Smith. The rest wanted to be Chuck Berry with cheaper amplifiers and swear words. Punk rock is not about swear words. Punk Rock is not about class war. Class war only ever feeds into structures. Punk rock dismantles them. Class war wears swastikas and communist flags with equal irony. Punk rock is not ironic. Punk rock wasn’t born on housing estates. Punk rock was born in art schools. Punk rock was never about redistribution of wealth. It was about savaging the idea of money. Punk rock was never stupid. Punk rock was never graceless. Punk rock moved like a gazelle, read book after book after book and looked at every single kid in class at school and knew they were wrong and dared to tell them.”


I like the idea of ‘evolution’ (as opposed to repetitive revolution), which seeks not to tear the world down with anger and rage as it lashes out at the words unfairness. Rather it is their to challenge old ideas, the dominant dogma of the day (the status quo) based on two simple rules.


1. What powers the evolution is fun!!.
Its not into rocks and molotovs cocktails. It fuelled by any art form which has the passion to stand up and say ‘success is not a bag full of gold or fitting in. Success goes way beyond these tiny ideas’.

2. Participation is all that’s required. You succeed not by conforming but simply by doing. It use to be part of Dunedin’s rich musical heritage that anyone could get on stage and give it a bash be it poetry, music, painting or whatever. You did not have to be cool you just had to have a brave heart.

Somewhere along the way Dunedin music and art scene (as is the case in so many parts of our world) turned into the hostages of the ‘kool kids’.

It became a pussy.

So afraid that the lime light might be taken from them it became the norm to create tribal riffs where people encouraged each other to tear apart those who did not stand with the crowd. For in the attempt to own and claim ownership, establish control, of the kudos of the ‘good old days’ , the actual punk philosophy that lay behind the Dunedin sound has been forgotten.

Whats missing is the bit where people simply took it as their birthright to have a voice and the right not to have to conform. To feel they did not have to belong to something greater than themselves as opposed to simply being allowed to be a self thinking autonomous cell who co-existed alongside the tribe of cultural evolution (as opposed to boring stagnating predictable repeating revolution – stuck on its hipster hampster wheel doing revolution after revolution and still going nowhere fast). A healthy community which embraced and applauded not a single Truth or the “right way” but rather welcomed anyone who wished to contribute whatever their talents.

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