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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.

 

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