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