Having grown up in the 1980s, I cannot escape the irony of so many young people today imitating the punk look from that era. Today’s bluehairs are guilty of cultural appropriation that would normally offend these poseurs. Their blue hair mocks the legacy of the great movement.
It may come as a surprise to young people, but they did not invent blue-dyed hair. In the late 1970s through the late 1980s, suburban youths across the country didn’t buy their ready-made punk couture from Amazon. We picked through army surplus stores and used bleach and sandpaper to distress jeans. We hunted through craft shops for spikes to fasten to our clothes. In the 1980s, the punk movement was all about defiance of authority, particularly the corporate overlords who curated music for the public. Today’s “punks” are perfect little drones for their corporate masters.
We didn’t lazily switch our streaming music to the “punk” channel. We drove outrageous distances to record stores that carried imports and small labels where we paid up to $20 (the equivalent of $50 today) for American punk albums that could only be obtained from British labels. Everyone knew somebody in a band that practiced Saturday morning in a parent’s basement. And when punk acts opened for mainstream bands, we would pay a week’s wages from part time jobs to buy general admission tickets.
Tattoos were rare. Punks in the 1980s knew they would someday grow up and get a job. The piercings would grow back. The hair would grow out and return to its natural color. Older punks fell out of grace and would eventually be regarded as losers if they continued clinging to the lifestyle after their 20s. Today’s bluehairs carry their tattoos and emotional fragility into late adulthood and beyond.
Punks in the 1980s strove to offend. Bluehairs today strive to be offended. In the 1980s, a punk who spouted Democratic talking points would be laughed at and called a sellout. He would be reminded to think for himself and that neither political party should be trusted. The blue hairs today screech like Maoist Red Guards if their peers don’t parrot the latest political slogans. The Democrats were no friend of the punk movement. In the 1980s, the wife of then-senator Al Gore led a movement that destroyed iconic punk band The Dead Kennedys, the name of which intentionally mocked Democratic royalty.
Punks of the 1980s cultivated an image of toughness. The culture overlapped with the athletic and pain-immune skateboard culture of “thrashers,” who savagely mocked tears of self pity. Today, the bluehairs never stop telling their personal sob stories of victimhood. They demand that authorities sanctify their hurt feelings. They crave pity. Nothing could be more pathetic.
Blue or green hair in the 1980s would get you harassed by the police. Today, it’s as ordinary as a pair of tennis shoes. It’s not rebellious. It’s cosplay, and bluehairs are used as props in commercials and mainstream entertainment. Today’s wannabe punks snitch on the maskless and tattle to authorities if a social media post questions a “recommendation” from our health policy overlords.
A punk in the 1980s knew the names of punk acts from across the country and could knowledgeably debate the difference between D.C. and L.A. punk styles. Today’s blue hairs are slaves to Rachel Maddow and can recite each of the genders represented by the unabridged LGBTQ2S+ movement.
Punks of the 1980s held illegal concerts in abandoned buildings. We moshed on broken glass as speed guitar deafened us. Today’s bluehairs shake their fists in unison to social justice porn on Netflix. In the 1980s, the only time “safety” would be used in the same sentence as “punk” was to refer to a pin and piercing. Today’s bluehairs demand censorship from corporations to protect their feelings from wrongthink.
Punk helped make all music better in the 1980s. Crossover bands like Blondie and the Ramones infused mainstream music with energy organically grown at the grassroots. Today, the music is all heavily produced and forced into predetermined categories. Rebellion today must fall within a pre-approved “justice” category. And if a young person steps out of the corporate-approved channel, a bluehair isn’t far away to scream at and shame the maverick.
A punk from the 1980s would not recognize the frightened conformists that make up the ranks of the bluehairs today. The weak-minded, script-reciting bluehairs of today would be called what they are: sellouts, poseurs, and wannabes.