The Null Device

The new face of punk

A Grauniad piece on punk rocker Avril Lavigne, who seems to be some sort of Alanis for the wallet-chain set or something.
The four punk rockers have been trying to school Lavigne on what she should listen to. "For her birthday, I got her [AC/DC's] Back in Black, the Clash singles and the new Me First and the Gimme Gimmes - your straightforward rock & roll, your punk and your pop punk," says bassist Charlie Moniz, the resident indie-rock connoisseur. Brann gave her a copy of Nirvana's Nevermind. And Colburn gave her the Smashing Pumpkins's Siamese Dream and some Pixies albums."I started her off with the more palatable ones, like Monkey Gone to Heaven," he says. "Then I give her Debaser, and she's like, 'I don't know about that.'"
Reid contends that "there are no guys in suits that can manufacture artists like Avril Lavigne. I wish there were. God knows the record business needs them right now."

She may not be manufactured (according to the article she was singing for a while before LA Reid (of LA and Babyface, who were the Stock/Aitken/Waterman of 80s R&B) snapped her up and made her into a star), but it's apparent that any association between her and any sort of "punk" tropes is entirely artificial; even more so than for the usual mook bands whose members weren't born when Sid killed Nancy. Mind you, if she didn't have this gimmick, she'd probably not get anywhere other than small clubs and open-mike nights, and some other malleable giglet would be storming the Top 40 in her place.

(It seems these days that everybody has forgotten Jello Biafra's maxim that "punk means thinking for yourself", and it has become just another form of rebellion-through-aspirational-consumerism. Or maybe not even so much rebellion, at least not of any form that leads to questioning, soul-searching and finding one's own identity, but merely a mindless outlet for excess testosterone, like video games or backyard wrestling.)

There are 5 comments on "The new face of punk":

Posted by: gjw Sun Mar 9 23:02:18 2003

Yeah "punk" is pretty pathetic these days, but the kids love it, so what can you do? When I meet people a bit younger than I am, who are into "punk", I ask them what bands they're in to, hoping to hear about some new underground punk music.

"Oh you know, real punk, like Blink 182, Lagwagon, Sum 41 and some old-school stuff like NOFX."

'nuff said. Most haven't even _heard_ of Jello Biafra. Certainly, few bother to even check out the underground punk bands in their own city.

Posted by: mark Mon Mar 10 10:32:54 2003

Rebelling against the Evil Corporate Establishment by wearing Abercrombie & Filch and listening to Limp Bizkit.

Conformity. Because individuality's like that.

Posted by: df http:// Mon Mar 10 17:55:40 2003

Punk is a state of mind. It does not necessarily mean wearing that tee-shirt and listening to this or that commercial crap. But you can't explain that to kids... If they really love Punk music, then they will sooner or later discover the Saints, DK and Crass. Most of them won't, but some will, and that's the point.

I remember that when Nirvana appeared, I considered this only as a boring crap (I was so wrong...), because, Joe Strummer and Jello Biaffra were prophets to me. Now I have to recognise that Nirvana really had a good influence on many people and on music.

Rancid, The distillers, the Transplants, Voodoo Glow Skull... plus Exploited and Discharge coming back, plus that East Bay hardcore stuff... How can you say that Punk is pretty pathetic ? In Europe, that music was half dead only a few years ago... And nobody cared about the Exploited.

Posted by: gjw Mon Mar 10 22:51:57 2003

Are you saying the Exploited are coming back? Won't they just be a bunch of beer-gutted old english codgers? :)Barmy Army!

It's not dead, it's just that 95% of people who consider themselves "punks" feel that Sum 41 represent what punk is all about. Extreme Sportz. Brand-name clothes. Fudge in the hair. Jock lifestyle. Sexism towards women. Driving daddy's car to the skate park. It's as true here as in the US.

5% of people who consider themselves "punk" are into actual gritty, real, political, underground music.

Posted by: acb Tue Mar 11 00:35:31 2003

And then there are things like the "Golf Punk" fashion label, with its posters with some bird wearing a bikini bottom with "#19" on it. Yes, objectification of women is punk as fuck...