Smash Divisions: The Life And Death Of My Affiliation To Subculture

“It feels it hath been buried under the ashes of aeons!”, whispered I in amazement to malaise personified as I pried its dusty sarcophagus open with the crowbar of divine knowledge. Angst, this song’s for you.

It seems only yesteryear I made a post that hasn’t involved some manner of review or another, and that just ain’t right. I would like to take a moment to bring myself  back to the type of posts I made in the olden days. The ones where I gave a status update, mainly detailing what I’ve been listening to or thinking about. If you missed them, you’re in luck, but if not, then there’s always next time.

It has come to my own attention recently that I’ve gone cold-turkey as far as affiliating with any subculture. If you know me, then you’re aware that I once called myself and to a certain extent acted like your ordinary Metalhead; clumsy afro-headbanging, horn-hailing, going out of my way to complement someone on their shirt whether or not I actually knew the band, and a fervent anti-Hardcore mosdancing stance. I had a good time, yes, but eventually it came time to realize that I wasn’t cut out to keep my pinky and index extended toward a band, regardless of genre, just cos y’know, Metal. In time, as I slowly lessened my dependence on the salute of steel, I also became less willing to lay my life on the line for Metal itself. If I try listening to a Death Metal band I had never heard before and it doesn’t immediately capture my interest, I don’t pursue it. Thrash? Don’t mind if I don’t, since it begins to sound painfully samey after a few hundred bands. Black Metal still has a shot, as long as it goes beyond pots’n’pans in the dårk førest or is otherwise experimental. As far as Gothic Metal goes, if it’s not Tiamat or Therion, chances are I won’t give it a second glance. “War Metal”? Keep out with that fucken shit.

In short, Metal just doesn’t captivate me in that same essential fashion the way it used to when I went under the tag Metalhead. And this does not mean that I was never truly into the music, or am not now, because that would just make me a faker on a monumental scale. Had I continued espousing everything “fuckin’ metal” for the sake of consistency, then I would be a poser in the truest sense. I’m not gonna regale you with all the points I made in the post where I explained why I no longer call myself a Metalhead, but you get the idea.

I’ve had an epiphany in recent months regarding how being part of a subculture, or “scene”, can really affect how one chooses to view others. Belonging to a scene, in my experience, was restricting, you have to dislike or even ignore people from others even though you’re in the same boat as outcasts. It hearkens back to the Catholic/Protestant divide, but far sillier because usually people don’t die. Usually.

Different shades of alternative cultures are always at pains to identify and make fun of the “others”. I don’t really see the point in allying oneself to a “counterculture” if the main activity is to trash others behind their backs for doing what they do. Clandestinely snickering at scene kids, pointing out “poser punx”, making fun of how Hardcore kids like to mosh versus your own way, saying “look at that fuckin’ mallgoth”, or bashing Metalheads; All are tired and vain ways to wile away one’s time that could be spent making friends with whoever you deem to be interesting or even better, just paying attention to what you enjoy. Making bloodsport of what you hate without even the self-awareness to see that it’s pointless is so widespread a malady that fabled Greek tragedians would be fain base a comedy around this phenomenon.

I am in no way proposing that no one ally himself or herself with a subculture; By all means, if you enjoy headbanging along to Reign In Blood with a group of buddies, do so. If you like slamming around in dingy basements with people that spend equal time drinking cheap beer and not showering, be my guest. If you’re all about feathered hair and shirts that are coloured like a box of Fruity Pebbles vomited on a robot unicorn, you are quite free to. If you’re all about The Decemberists or Kanye West, Lady Gaga or mainlining Emmure’s entire discography, that’s your life. Just know that even though my latest preferred mode of dress leans heavily towards Allston gutter rat, I’ve refrained from carrying any sort of subcultural banner, because to be frank, I can’t see myself fitting in perfectly with any of them. Just take a peek at my last.fm, and see that while it is mainly Metal, Rock, Hardcore or related veins, I’d never be accepted into any particular group if my eligibility were judged by scrobbles, though truth be told, I kind of like it that way.

My main reason for this distancing myself from any particular label unless humour calls for it was an evaluation of the types of people that I get along with, which turned out to be a little bit of everything. I can converse with a Metalhead, a Pop Punk kid, a Hardcore kid, a straight up Punk, and even “normies” with equal awkward deftness. Then it hit me: If I am equally daft around an Indie leaning person as I am with someone who is mainly into Metal, Punk, Hip-Hop, what have you, then why bother walking around with a tag that says “Hello, My Name Is Sean and I’m a Fucken Hipster”? It’s the focus on the outward appearance or subculture that one identifies with rather than the content of that person’s character that leads to bullshit like the Punk vs. Metal wars of the 80s, the anti-Scene kid fervor of today, and the Sophie Lancaster murder of 2007. It goes without saying, and is well into the realm of cliché, but it rings true nonetheless: If you don’t like it, don’t pay attention to it, and if you’re gonna jock someone for their preferences, make it quick, and above all make it funny, cos you’re no better than anyone else.

This video of Trash Talk taking the stage to play “Radicals” with Odd Future is a great example of how subculture barriers can break down to participate in a superb instance of countercultural unity. Whether or not you like OF, my point stands, so no bitching.

Whether they were Hardcore Kids, Punks, Hip-Hop fans, “Hipsters”, or what have you, when the chorus of “Kill people, burn shit, fuck school” emitted from the speakers, they all feel it in the same way, they all shout along with equal passion and vitriol towards the majority that tells them to dress normally, cut their hair, act like everyone else. I fail to see how when all subcultures basically share the same base view of the norm being boring, they insist on arguing about which one hates cops more. Get out of your scene, or stop fighting with others. Enjoy yourself by your own rules, not by how other people say you should, least of all your friends, because real friends transcend genre.

Done.

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