‘youth subcultures’

punk, youth subcultures week4

A subculture is defined as, ‘a cultural group within a larger culture, often having beliefs or interests at variance with those of the larger culture.’ by the Oxford dictionary. People will often categorise people into various subcultures and stereotype them accordingly. There have been many subcultures in the past and subcultures still very much exist now in modern day society.

The image above is taken from The Gazette, a local newspaper in Basingstoke and North Hants, from August 26th 1980. The article itself is entitled ‘THE PUNK SHOCKER’, this for some will sum up what they believe punk to have been about, ‘shocking’. Marc (yes the article spelt his name wrong, much to his annoyance) was a 20 year old from Basingstoke living in London at the time and without a doubt was a part of the punk subculture taking the UK by storm. But what exactly was ‘Punk’?  ‘punk n. 1. A youth movement of the late 70’s characterized by anti-establishment slogans and outrageous clothes and hairstyles. 2. An inferior, rotten or worthless person or thing. 3. Worthless articles collectively. 4. Short for punk rock. 5. Obs. A young male homosexual; cat 6. Obs. A prostitute- adj. 7. Rotten or worthless’ is how the book ‘Punk’ (2001) has defined the term. To me Punk was about anti establishment and challenging social conventions.

The T-shirt Marc is wearing in the photograph above was a Vivienne Westwood design bought from her and Malcom McLaren’s store ‘SEX’ on The Kings Road, London. Shocking and often pornographic prints were typical of the Punk look; a look which often fuel certain stereotypes and assumptions about those that worn them. This particular print caused Marc to be stopped by the police and arrested. The cowboys ‘showing a good bit more than their six guns’ was deemed just too outrageous by the arresting officers and he was subsequently fined. It seems ridiculous considering the boobs you see on printed tops all over the place now days. Punks where often stereotype was being aggressive or out to cause trouble, which Marc certainly wasn’t, meaning they were often stopped and search by the police just because of the way they looked. In the case of this article Marc was actually warned about the presence of police by a fellow punk and had zipped his leather jacket up to hide the print. Back in the late 70s the leather clothes, bright hair and piercings was seen as confrontational and shocking.

A lot of the iconic Punk pieces are currently back in stores such as the tartan that is seen everywhere at the moment. There are also a lot of ‘Ramones’ T-shirts about. a punk band from the 70s. When certain subcultural fashions hit mainstream fashion some many years later one question that arises is, has the original meaning been lost? From personal experiences i know that quite a few people wearing the ‘Ramones’ T-shirts will have no clue  who they are and what they were about. So yes, I do believe that as time passes the original meaning gets lost and things just become another ‘fashion’.


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