Back in the baby-batter days of my ramblings on whatever the green-skinned fuck is going on with our societies at present, I wrote a piece (Rebellion? We can get it for you wholesale!) in which I opined and pined, wailed, howled in frustration and snark, that whatever passes for rebellion in whichever generation, will eventually find its way into corporate hands and, as such, become a trend.
It will, without a doubt, spawn a multi-billion dollar industry, selling wholesale rebellion to eager edgy teens with hardcore rebellious tendencies – as long as they come home to mommy and daddy before their curfew. Rebellion sells stupid shit, not least of all (to my endless annoyance, slightly rehabilited punk that I am) overpriced luxury fashion-items designed to look as though they are homemade, going against the entire DIY-or-die ethos of punk such as it was, once upon a manufactured time. People are willing to pay out the nose for something that looks as though it cost nothing at all, disregarding any creative urge within themselves to actually figure out how to cobble together something similar to that one thing with whatever they have at home. People, in short, tend to be trend-hoppers.
Because it is more convenient that way.
Because it is easier that way.
Because it does not matter that there might have been something creative that sparked the trend – some burst, some explosion of something that was floating dormant about the societal zeitgeist of disenfranchised, pissed off, directionless and/or just plain bored kids, waiting to take root and explode into an immense, powerful, juvenile-angst-and-rage lubricated ball of fire, destruction, brimstone and amphetamine sulphate.
…that later imploded in on itself; to burn out as quickly as it came.
Or that is the way it seemed. Rather, I would say that it was caught up in the great marketing-machines of the corporate ether as quickly as possible, leaving the ethos and any pretense of anti-establishment, non-corporate sentiments behind in all but the absolute surface of the thing. It became, as just about everything else becomes given time, a simplistic post-card image. And that’s all fine and dandy, and some new underground-thing will always emerge to take its place, and then the same thing will happen and then repeat, ad infinitum.
This does not bother me as much as it sounds like. It is what it is, and one should learn to just roll with the punches.
Of course – I will freely admit: I am a cynical sort – steeped in a melancholy that has hung about me for most of my life. I am also (an odd combination, but such is the complexity of man) sort of a romantic and an idealist, should one wish to ascribe such labels to me. As such, there is no wonder that the DIY-ethos of punk hooked its nails into me at such a young age as it did.
Not to go all David Copperfield on you, poor audience that you are to be made subject to my endless ramblings, but I grew up dirt poor. And when someone says they grew up dirt poor in Norway of all places, you know they mean fucking business.
As such, I had to make do with what I had.
Most likely, poverty is the core reason for this creative spark that burns within me and never seems to dull itself, no matter how many times I have sworn to never put pen to paper again, be that in writing or in drawing.
Punk – or rather the ethos of punk – seemed to me to be a way out of whatever festering misery a young and dirt poor kid in Norway should find himself in. I later discovered extreme metal, and that still sticks to my skin. But that’s another story. And so – I did what I could with my clothing in order to beat individuality out of them. I drew my own posters to put on my walls through copying CD-covers or pictures in magazines or whatever. I still, to this day, hold to my heart a mantra I conjured way back when: “Make your own damned culture!”
Not that this is particularly original, or particularly special: just trying to put you into that headspace.
Little did I know then, at the age of 13, that this whole punk-thing was a ginormous marketing-thing; a grand and glorious corporate machine. How could it be? The stylings and the songs and the ethos was supposedly opposed to it. And so it could not be. It was the anti-everything. In a creative way: creation from destruction. Anger as a creative force. Something I still believe to be wise, by the way: anger channeled constructively.
It was salvation pouring from the salivating hiss of my piece-of-shit combined tape-and-CD-and-radio thing that I will not refer to as a boombox for fear that the boombox-lovers out there (Who are plentiful) will hunt me down and beat me to death with some vintage 1980’s goodness. It represented, to me, freedom and escape.
I know better now, of course.
I know that just about everything is a corporate thing. And if it isn’t, it will become it soon enough. It gets increasingly difficult to find anything that is truly of the underground. Barring some extreme metal fringe-stuff (Of which I have a constantly growing collection), I have more or less stopped looking. Which sounds defeatist, but is quite the opposite. I learned to enjoy things merely because I enjoyed it. At the same time, I learned to dislike things merely because I disliked them. Disregarding what anyone else might say about it. “Oh, you really enjoy (Insert former black metal pioneers here)? You are aware they sold out, right?” Well, yeah. I do. And yeah, I know. And I don’t care.
Which brings me, sort of, to the point I am trying to make: rebellion and anti-establishment sentiments have spread their wings and become the establishment. It has taken root, and it is bought and it is sold, wholesale by corporate goons, by putrid politicians proclaiming themselves to be of the people and opposed to the establishment, all the while being precisely that which they claim to be opposed to. Rebellion is a nothing-word. Anti-establishment is a McDonalds happy meal.
And the ones who follow suit, such as I did when I was 13 and believed punk to be what it presented itself to be, are not 13. They are in their 20’s. Or older. They are immature. Non-grown beyond the unthinking “rebellion” of their teenaged poop-chute pop-culture. And they follow, because they have been told, presented and sold that this is rebellion; that this is anti-establishment: to do exactly as the establishment says, to swallow everything CNN says (No-no Trump said Naughty Word (Trademarked), No-No Trump must go), for example, as truth.
This is anti-establishment here and now.
All evidence to the contrary, these people believe themselves to be opposed to the establishment, opposed to the very same corporations that sell them rebellion and sell them slogans and share their supposed sentiments. Opposed to capitalism, despite capitalism having them by the balls – or lack of such – and guiding them precisely where they need to be.
And we see it in the culture and we see it in the movies and we see it in the video-games. The same preachy nonsense; the same woke gobble-de-gook; the same political sermons that have that odd religious flair that is written so terribly as to remove any semblance of nuance and any semblance of complexity and any semblance of wonder. Everything is propaganda, and it all points to the same place: diversity is our strength. Diversity forced, diversity squared, diversity in the form of mono-culture diarrhea. Diversity in all but thought and in all but actual god-damned diversity. In all but choice.
Nothing remains but the superficial.
Nothing remains, but the surface.
Nothing remains, but plastic.
And – we – we who tend to side against the establishment, we who obviously are the underdogs, who talk about change and who aim for change and who poke the hornets nest looking for change, bound together by the flimsiest of the flimsiest of ideas, and nothing but that – the idea that states, quite bluntly and quite simply “Hey, boss – men are human too, how’s about some crumbs, eh?”
We who stand there rubbing our palms and holding our hat in our increasingly broken hands, saying, “Excuse me, Xir, could I have some more?” Are presented as the establishment, as the wielders of the wand of Status Quo, the reactionary knuckledraggers.
Yeah, I told you I was a romantic.
You’ll have to excuse me my somewhat melodramatic leanings. Too much of that kind of literature in my youth, I suppose. Does something to the brain. The point is: it is all topsy-turvy.
Obvious to us, of course – Here I am merely preaching to the choir (or, as the case may be, to people readying their pitchforks and their torches for thinking that I have got it all wrong – the internet, after all, is a harsh mistress) – but not obvious to those who believe they are the rebellious ones, who, for some reason, would believe that they are oppressed, despite all but a few knuckledragging reactionaries (hey, that’s us – woohoo) hanging on their side of the increasingly terrifying fence.
The language of the day is broken.
And we gain little by playing nice.
The problem lies in getting people to open their eyes and look beyond the funeral veil tied about their herd-brains.
And we gain little by playing nice.
Granted: we gain just as little, excepting notoriety, by being naughty.
The language is key, I think.
To reclaim the romantic label of “Rebel”; to become the legendary “outlaw”; to become the “Radicals” which, in a way, the MRA-thing actually is.
At least by this definition of the thing: “(especially of change or action) relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough.”
I would dare say that men’s rights activism is just about the most progressive and the most radical thing floating about today. For men to be transformed from disposable human-doings, valued for their work and contributions only, into valuable human beings, valued for their humanity in the eyes of society and themselves? That would indeed mean affecting the fundamental nature of something.
Or am I, perhaps, merely being romantic?
Why the fuck not?
Everyone else is doing it.