When The F*CK Did Rock Music Stop being Dangerous?

Many years ago they banned a guy called Elvis Presley from being shown from the waist up on TV because they thought his lewd hip swinging threatened to “corrupt peoples morals.” Later on the Sex Pistols had a number one single but their spot on the chart was simply left blank because the powers that be decided their band and song name were offensive and a “threat to public morals”

The Dead Kennedys had all the christ cash (inc) of the entire PMRC (Parents Music Resource Centre, i.e. Moral Majority Christians) thrown at them for using world renowned artist H.R. Gigers “Penis Landscape” on their “FrankenChrist” album cover, but the reality was the conservative Christian lobby had been itching for years to get at the DK’s for their hard hitting political statements and “anti-establishment” advocating.

“Rage Against the Machine”…. well, unless you’ve been in a coma for 20 years then it goes without saying. Same for a few like Anti-Flag & Rise Against. One reason given for RATM’s success is that they were one of the few bands actually saying something real about the world and the problems in it, as opposed to “love songs”, party tunes and empty meandering’s . And is it coincidence that not long after these kind of bands start coming up, the safe little genre of “Emo” arrived? A highly saleable consumer combo of punk & gothic where the inane songs focus on “ME ME ME” and the only form of aggression (cutting yourself) is turned inwards and creates no social threat whatsoever? Whoa, the implication that “EMO” was a safe lil’ industry created genre, now there’s a conspiracy theory worthy of the “911 was an inside job” crowd! Cheer up Emo Kid ;).

My question is, when in the last 10 -20 years did anything truly dangerous make it’s way into the mainstream? When did you last hear a song on radio or TV and think “HOLY SHIT, that’s edgy!” or get the feeling that you just witnessed something that could truly shake shit up?

Is it the commercialisation of everything that leads to this “bland, homogenous, “plastic rebellion” I mean, what the FUCK is “Golf Punk”? How dangerous can punk bands be if they need to sell their cover art as iPod covers to pay the bills? And, is it the band’s fault for doing it or the fault of the fans for buying it? In an age where protesters request permission to make a stand and then have to “march between the lines” and the media owners create pop star icons to suit their advertising needs, is punk now nothing more to most people than a genre to check out on iTunes or MySpace, a short little angst stop on the road to becoming a good little normaloid citizen in suburbicide? Does it even matter if it’a all just for poops & giggles?

Even in the mainstream of music, club owners are more likely to hire cover or “concept bands” that play old hits instead of paying original bands to play. Is that the punters fault for wanting a “safe night out” listening to things they already know and if so when did we become more interested in safety than adventure and exploring new boundaries, being the first to discover some killer new band on MySpace and draging ya mates along to see em, whether they wanna go or not?

Anyway, I’m just throwing up some “food for thought” but next time we’re buying our punk rock patches from BIG W or KMART, downloading our Gallows tunes through iTunes (or DL’ing them for FREE & forcing the band to sell those old iPod covers ;), making Doc Martens PTY LTD INC richer or purchasing our “rebellious slogan” t-shirts that were prob made by some multinational company in a third world sweat shop, maybe we should keep the old anarchist slogan in mind: “If voting could really change the system, it would be illegal”
and ask ourselves:

“If any of this we’re TRULY dangerous or a threat in any way, do you really think they’d let us buy, wear, watch, hear or download it?”

And if the answer is “yeah, if there’s a buck in it for them” then I got a feeling that’s because they know they’ve got us all to a point of wanting our toys & noises, our bread & circuses too much to ever really upset the apple cart…

I got a feeling the thing they made safe wasn’t the material, the music, the art, the films or the ideas….

I got a feeling that the thing they made safe and non threatening, was us.

cheers
SCART

p.s. This appeared in QPunx a while back

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