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Punk and the death of Pop Culture.

Punk and the death of Pop Culture.

Above Photo: Screenshot of Blondie on Top Of The Pops in 1979.

I received an email from a former Punk and a Bombed Out! reader, about modern culture versus the Punk culture we were lucky to have grown up in. It raised some interesting points, so I asked if could I post it and he said OK, but to use his initials, so here goes. I added the photos for illustration.

By M.H.

“Your book (‘Bombed Out!‘) was excellent and made me think about a lot of things which directly relates to your – and my own – experiences of getting into Punk and New Wave in the late 1970s.

The Damned on Top of the Pops in 1979.

Screenshot of the Damned on Top of the Pops in 1979.

Anyone born before 1990 grew up at a time where their identity, experience and memories are/were of popular culture at that time.

The Stranglers on Top of The Pops in 1979.

The Stranglers on Top of The Pops in 1979.

For the most part pop culture, as its name implies is a shared experience, either by everyone or by large groups in a sub-culture (like Punk). Back then, in the 1970s and early 1980s, most of us listened to the same radio stations, watched the same TV programmes and read many of the same magazines and newspapers.

Screenshot, Billy Idol of Generation X on Top of The Pops in 1979.

Screenshot, Billy Idol of Generation X on Top of The Pops in 1979.

Most of us can relate to times in our lives through music, which your book was fantastic for, by the way, and TV shows, commercials and, more recently, music videos, as shared milestones that can evoke deep feelings and emotions, along with good and not so good memories.

But since the arrival of the internet, particularly in the last 5 years with mobile phones and tablets, everything has changed.

Screenshot of Debbie Harry and Blondie on Top of The Pops in 1979.

Screenshot of Debbie Harry and Blondie on Top of The Pops in 1979.

The music (and TV) business as it existed pre-2000 has changed forever. The business models no longer stack up as they once did.

Most people rarely listen to national radio stations playing music. TV numbers are dwindling and the entire nature of TV programming has changed completely – now we have talkback radio, pointless game shows, cooking programmes and fly-on-the-wall reality shows about the guy next door and his cat.

A Google server centre.

A Google server centre.

Most people are now watching ‘stuff’ on tablets, phones and (in decline) laptops and PCs. Billions of videos, tv-streams, online games, billions of websites and blogs – all competing for eyeball engagement from everyone on the planet.

So ‘popular’ culture as an experience has gone. So have fashion tribes or ‘style waves’ as a cultural phenomenon; without a mass-market method of introducing new trends simultaneously to a wide youth market, nothing will likely ever gain enough traction to take hold and grow as a dominant popular culture. That means it is unlikely that other strong sub cultures, such as Punk, will develop and be able to play off from them.

A row of Google Servers.

A row of Google Servers.

The public user experience is so fragmented that it simply isn’t possible anymore. Everything is personalized – the geeks behind Google, Facebook and others have seen to that.

It’s all quite sad really as all we seem to be left with is a global swamp that has nothing exciting to say, a cultural UFO going nowhere; its sole purpose to be a planetary consumer, a hydra with 7 billion cellphone heads…”

Buy a signed copy of Bombed Out! here: http://www.bombedoutpunk.com/buybook.php

"What do you mean, this isn't cutting edge?"

“What do you mean, this isn’t cutting edge?”

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 www.bombedoutpunk.com © Peter Alan Lloyd

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1 Comment

  1. Edward Young

    Was just thinking about this today. Will there come a point where a mass number of people (some future youth generation?) say enough of this shit and turn their phones off and ignoring the internet? I sure like to hope so.
    Also, this brings to mind something I read of Alan Moore, he speculating that “the underground” needs a samizdat culture as a sort of bedrock, written documents that can be passed from hand to hand, a slow time exchange of ideas and debate in which to culture and thrive. Which the internet has replaced. Interesting speculations to say the least.


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