Apr 25, 2006 • Karen

Trustafundian rebel without a cause for alarm,
'Cuz when push turns to shove you jump into your forefathers arms
He's a banker, you're part of the system,
Off go the dreadlocks, in comes the income


It's one of those insults that has no purpose but to make people police themselves. It works not on principle but insecurity. You can say that any woman is a slut, or (worse?) a dyke. You can denigrate any man's dick size. And you can call any punk a poser.

Eh, hell. Why not. Let's call out a few.

Here's to all the kids who think that getting $10 a week (or more?!) in allowance is "normal." Here's to the credit card princesses with sticky pink lips and salon highlights every couple weeks. Here's to the liberals--the Marxists! the anarchists!--who chat up and fuck a new blow-up doll girl every Friday night. Here's to the college administrators who congratulate themselves for their "diverse student body" just because they admit a bunch of light-skinned middle-class preps who checked "African-American" on their application. Here's to that damn Escalade in my former high school's parking lot. Here's to those of you who smirked at that last one...when your parents bought you a car, too. Here's to whoever the hell turned lesbianism into party entertainment.

Here's to Hot Topic and Against Me.

Today in American Protest Lit, we discussed punk rock and the book Evasion. Most of the people liked the book--admired the narrator's dumpster-diving and veganism. It seemed "real" to them. A room of middle-class white girls (and one boy) felt they identified with the hobo shoplifter life.

I was more ambivalent. Hence the rant.

Now, I've never claimed to be a punk. I listen to a bit of the music, plus a little rap and a little ska now that Nelson's introduced me to it. But punkishness is still a defining characteristic of my generation. The music might have evolved--more folky, more pop, more indie, whatever--but there's still a sense in which including any slightly political statement, any social commentary, in art automatically makes it cool. We're a generation where the Dixie Chicks criticizing President Bush is a big deal. I have claimed to be a liberal, and my politics do inform my music taste to an extent. So the whole punk/poser, "selling out" thing affects my identity too.

One of the more "real" people (stupid term, I know) I know is a trust fund baby. He doesn't like Evasion very much. Doesn't portray anarchism the way he'd like. He goes from hitching and stockyards to green mansions and back again, making a life with his riot-folk guitar. He knows the contradictions. Oh, he knows them damn well. He beats himself up about it pretty much always. He's the most vulnerable member of the scene to that scarlet letter, 'P' for Poser. But he still does it--not for salvation. For love of the music, of the life. And for that I admire him.

Punk isn't going to make up for the fact that we're all white, rich, privileged boys and girls. People are driven to hardcore out of class guilt, but if you're honest with yourself it won't ever relieve it. Safety pins and hair gel won't stop your guilt. Moshing won't make you poor. I don't care how much rap or reggae you listen to--Malcolm X doesn't want your fucking help.

We're eating the other. Colonialism is only finished when the colonized give their consent. So we look for that consent--white people consume black music, white boys exoticize Asian girls, white tourists go on their stupid New Age-y journeys to learn Native American ceremonies. There's a reason why the Last of the Mohicans and the Last Samurai are white, why the face of Harajuku in America is blonde and obnoxious. The Other has a life or spirit to it which we supposedly lack. So we try to absorb it, to fit in among them. If they treat us like a "brother," if we are legitimated as one of the crowd instead of a stupid tourist, the colonization is complete.

Punk isn't going to redeem you. You thought it would be so easy?

Get it? Go ahead. Turn up the music in your headphones. The music cries a river, but it doesn't build a bridge to get over it. That's up to you, if you want to.

We're all posers. Deal with it.