Music History

What’s Become of Punk? Hand-wringing from New York Magazine

Punk has long since gone from being just above music.  It’s an aesthetic, an attitude, a way of thinking, a way of doing that can involve everything from fashion to architecture to politics.  Punk is a state of mind that can be applied to anything.

Yet there are those who will always fret that punk is dead because it’s not about the music anyway.  New York magazine takes a look at this.

Punk rock has always had an easy time living up to E. M. Forster’s view of music as a kingdom that “will accept those whom breeding and intellect and culture have alike rejected.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute benefit—the “Oscars of fashion,” currently co-hosted by Vogue editor Anna Wintour, and perhaps the city’s most glamorous large social event—feels like the opposite: a celebration of rare finery and a discerning elite. The gala’s theme is generally the same as that of the Costume Institute’s spring exhibit; say, Jacqueline Kennedy or Chanel.
But this year’s exhibit is “Punk: Chaos to Couture,” a look at punk clothing and high fashion’s varied responses to it. A lavish ball pivots on the same word you’d use to describe crusty squatters in ­Tompkins Square Park.One knee-jerk response to this situation is to see it as a laughable irony, like a steakhouse celebrating how brave and inspiring vegetarians are.
I know: It’s tempting. Even a glancing understanding of what “punk” is tends to assume vigorous antipathy toward fashion-industry galas. And it is somehow amusing to imagine socialites commissioning extravagant couture inspired by gangs of raggedy late-seventies miscreants, or Girls actress Allison Williams studying photos of the Sex Pistols and, as she said, getting “really excited to commit to that theme.”

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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One thought on “What’s Become of Punk? Hand-wringing from New York Magazine

  • Punk will come back, but it will be redefined. It’ll basically be music juxtaposed with a new, innovatory technology

    Reply

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