Punk Counterculture

1254 Words 6 Pages
The counterculture movement known as punk defies definition in any concrete terms. Beginning as a perverse fashion statement in the 1970s, punk quickly became something much more politically charged than many initially anticipated. It was a movement that defined itself through a series of negatives: it was more easily seen as what it wasn’t than what it was. Punk contrasted itself to the 1960s, the hippie movement, and the rock’n’roll scene that had established itself; it was opposed to the capitalist society that had grown in the postwar years, the materialism of the times, and of big corporations. Yet, for all of its contrasts, punk was full of contradictions and a multitude of identities, and for that reason it will be examined here in terms …show more content…
Many historians date punk’s arrival in history with Malcolm McLaren’s creation of the Sex Pistols in the 1970s. A group that had no musical training before being created, the Sex Pistols are widely regarded as the start of the punk scene in the UK, and are certainly the reason for widespread public attention focused on the punk style. It was this style of dress that was the initial aim of McLaren in creating the Sex Pistols, and the lasting impression that many had of the scene overall. McLaren was influenced by the emerging punk scene in New York that was happening simultaneously, where he had lived for some time as a manager of the New York Dolls, an early punk band. Fashion was the first visual impression that fans took the mantle of when it came to punk: torn clothing with safety pins holding it together was a staple in the punk wardrobe, and McLaren’s store, Sex, cashed in on …show more content…
Instead it was largely seen as an event or a spectacle that was initially underestimated by the media and thought of merely as a passing fad. However, the growingly volatile exploits of the Sex Pistols’ band members, as well as the reports of concert gigs and growing ideology within the fanbase of the punk movement came to be seen by the majority of the public as dangerous. Though punks proudly wore this badge in the form of clothes and peculiar hairstyles, underlying the movement was an angry, festering rage. Despite the fact that punk began as a fashion statement, it unconsciously tapped into a climate of political turmoil that for many people had been boiling away for a few years. At the time, youth “struggled with feelings of alienation from the social, economic and political forces around them,” and sought solace in the feeling of community that punk provided. This manifested in angry lyrics, violent concerts, and a way of self-expression through style that placed them within a minority that was speaking up about the injustices they felt they were being faced with. For these reasons, punk is – and was – a complex movement that merged both fashion and politics to become a multifaceted movement with no clear definition or aims.
To now consider the ways that punk can be defined through the lens of politics and fashion is to

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