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Hardcore – A Community

January 28, 2014

Hardcore as a subculture, as a genre, and as an escape has always, since its inception, worked as a forum. Whether it’s a forum for politics, for the social, for the individual’s identity, or for the common identity it has always been a forum. Whether or not hardcore is about venting or celebrating it has always been a forum for community expression. One thing which is absolutely certain about hardcore is that it was created by the excluded for the excluded. Tolerance is (or should be) considered a universally accepted precondition of hardcore music, whether it be in the practice of the individuals within the hardcore community or embedded in the lyrics of the music. It seems, though, that some aspects of contemporary hardcore has taken a step away from this and forgotten what hardcore is for.

Over the past few weeks I have been increasingly more away of the intolerance of modern ‘hardcore’ bands, both in the way they conduct themselves on stage and how those who feel they are part of certain hardcore communities act socially. There is a lot of misconceptions about what hardcore is and how those involved in hardcore should act. Take for example the misunderstanding of former Black Flag vocalist, Henry Rollins. Black Flag are the staple band for hardcore. You ask somebody who knows anything about punk music to name a hardcore band and 9 times out of 10 it’s Black Flag. Now, it’s no secret their former lead singer, Henry Rollins, is a controversial guy. He is macho and speaks his mind. His ethos didn’t stray from what hardcore teaches though. He was venting against the treatment of himself, his bandmates, his musical community, and the wider music industry’s practices which favours one kind of music over the other. I feel the metaphor of Rollins has been misinterpreted and used as an excuse for bands to act inappropriately to ostracised communities, especially the LGBT community. It doesn’t matter whether or not contemporary hardcore bands base themselves upon fast punk influenced bands such as Black Flag or favour the beatdown side of things. What is important is the misconceived idea that hardcore is about being ‘tough’ and making sure other people know you are tough.

There is nothing wrong with being tough, most bands have to be tough if they want to pursue their art (trust me, there is nothing quite like sleeping in a van for a week with 5 other smelly guys whilst wondering if you are actually going to get paid in the next city you visit). Toughness is absolutely no excuse to act like a bully though, which I feel, sadly has become the norm for some bands and some individuals whom have completely misunderstood what hardcore is about. Hardcore is so much more than the music, it’s about the community which surrounds it. I have a problem with bands who use words such as ‘pussy’, ‘faggot’, ‘bitch’ etc. whilst both on stage and in their own public lives. This doesn’t mean they can’t use words like that if they really think it is necessary, but if they do, as far as I am concerned they are not a hardcore band. They may have stylistically the same musical patterns and qualities of hardcore music but they have absolutely no right to call themselves a hardcore band.

Hardcore includes the excluded, and it lets people know that it’s okay to be/feel/act differently from the suggested accepted social norms. People should feel safe when they listen to hardcore bands and interact with hardcore communities, not feel scared to have their voice heard. As soon as a band or an individual uses any kind of platform to voice their misogynist, racist, sexist, homophobic views then they should either look at where they have went wrong down the line whilst claiming to be a hardcore band or simply stop claiming to be a part of the hardcore community.

 

Thicke and Cyrus – A Love Story. (including misogyny, racism, consumption and a little dash of male dominance).

August 30, 2013

Thicke and Cyrus – A Love Story.

(including misogyny, racism, consumption and a little dash of male dominance).

There seems to be a lot of argument (A LOT of argument) amongst the media, tweeters, people on the street and, well, pretty much everybody about this week’s biggest topic. No, not the potential exploding of an Arab nation just west of Iraq and north or Israel – it’s Syria if you didn’t get the clues, but the VMA performance by Miley Cyrus. I write Miley Cyrus intentionally because the majority of the media have wrote Miley Cyrus, probably intentionally as well however, for totally different reasons. The other main performer alongside Miss Cyrus was Robin Thicke. A 36 year old male singer. Very little has been said about what Robin Thicke was up to at the VMAs. In fact, I didn’t even know Thicke was involved until I watched the performance for myself but more on that later on.

Cyrus is just one of the many countless female performers that have been pointed out to be using her sexuality as a means of marketing herself. Feminists and blogs have been the first to argue that Miley has the freedom to sexualise herself, her body is hers and that she can make whatever decision she wants to about it. What is different about this and the way that women are used in advertisement, pornography and  nude magazines – what more commonly known in UK as ‘lads mags’. Just because she doesn’t seem to be behind a big bad man, behind a big bad corporation (which she most definitely is by the way she is signed to Hollywood records which is a sister record company of Disney Inc.) makes it seem like she is making her own decisions. Miley Cyrus, whether or not she is doing it intentionally or not is a product for consumption. She is selling sex to the mass public that are being told not to think beyond the hook lines of her music or the movement of her body. This has all been done before, and it’s going on today by different artists and their marketing teams. Take Rihanna for example – she sells sex ‘Rude Boy’ is an obvious example.

The point though that some feminist and left leaning blogs and  writers have made is that Miley should be allowed to show her body and that she is the one making the big decisions. Last year though saw a huge movement amongst the feminist camps for ‘No to Page 3’ – a movement that sought to end the showing of naked breasts in certain newspapers and to end the easy accessibility of ‘lads mags’. This type of media was deemed unacceptable, degrading and offensive to women. Which, it rightly so is. So what is the difference between this type of media and Miley parading around on MTV wearing her underwear and imitating sexual behaviour with a Thicke. In my opinion there is absolutely no difference. Miley is a star to the younger generation, letting kids think it’s okay and needed to sell yourself as a sexual product to become successful, but what about the ‘stars in their eyes’ hopefuls that don’t become successful?

Another point that has to be made, and is equally important is the exploitation of  black culture by prominently white people. ‘We Can’t Stop’  was originally wrote for Rihanna, but was given to Miley by the writing duo behind it after she said she wanted a song that ‘sounded black’. Her dancing, known as ‘twerking’ is popular amongst new hip hop, which doesn’t really have anything to do with the original hip hop movement in which working-class and under-class black people would express their oppressed place in society through poetry put to bass-y drum beats. The ‘twerking’ Miley does just seems to be a joke to her and it is more offensive when coupled with the black dancers that were dressed up as teddy bears doing the dance with her, trivialising the black female dancers into nothing more than a prop for young rich female singers . Hip Hop has been diluted and degraded by white culture into something that should be joked about and turned into a ready-made cliche for young white girls to jump around on stage with men that are old enough to be their father pretending to have sex.

Thicke is far from innocent when it comes to causing extreme offence also, in  this case it is directed towards the entire female population. Leaving the point behind that his song ‘Blurred Lines’ is probably the worst song to be released this year it supports the idea that women are nothing but an item for men to use for sex. ‘Tried to domesticate you, but you’re an animal.’ ‘I know you want it.’ are just some of the lyrics in his hit song. Is Thicke suggesting that because somebody is a female, they are unable to say no to sex and that because they are female they are unable to be ‘domesticated’. ‘Blurred Lines’ is not blurry at all (pun most definitely intended) when it suggests that no most certainly means yes when it comes to a man demanding sex from a female. Why did mainstream media overlook what Thicke was up to at the VMA awards though? Why did the mainstream media focus on the sexually explicit antics of Miley and not Thicke? Well, let me invite you into the secret. It’s because he is a male. Male sexuality is never shunned and never criticised. Thicke is just as to blame as Miley for this wildly unacceptable performance but because he is a man his ‘dancing’ is not looked at as being out of line. Patriarchy allows Thicke to do what he wants, sing what he wants and write what he wants because our mainstream media outlets are owned by white upper-class males.

Hello world!

May 12, 2011

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