According to the media's myth of the time: punks were against everything, and hated everyone. Personal anecdotes aside, an impressionable young me thought so, but that's what you get when a kid in the mid-'80s puts his image of punk together from news clippings and following around his girlfriend's hot older sister.
As the misdirected me grew up into the scene, I learned about political activism, the ethics of self-improvement, and the liberating lifestyle of Do-It-Yourself. Still, I had come in with a chip on my shoulder, so I always knew there were others who started out with similar ideas, but were scared off instead of joining in the revelry. It's always been that way, and no one knows why, besides conspiratorial whispers involving the division of youth. Rockers versus mods. Metalheads hate hippies. Rappers killing other rappers.
When punk came to most of America, its fashion sense scared many, but it also brought outright hostility aimed at simple kids who were just trying to enjoy their music. While I don't understand that kind of hatred, I do recognize a sort of disdain some scenes hold for outside music genres. There were a number of acts who loved to play good ol' rock 'n' roll, and—when crowds at the club began to change, and wanted something other than a redneck bar band—they didn't want to change. Not only did some not adjust, they decided to write a song in protest.
Speaking of protest, and on a quick side note, one such character was Village musician and marijuana law activist David Peel, who kind of did the opposite. His first LP, the John Lennon-produced The Pope Smokes Dope (1971), gained him notoriety in the underground, but by the time punk sprouted out of his own music scene, he wanted to incorrectly remind the kiddies that it was him who started it all on his 1978 album, King of Punk.
Released as David Peel & Death—hubris aside—it's a catchy couple of numbers, but the song "Punk Rock" is another look-at-me-a-thon that showcases the wishes of one man asking an entire genre of music to take notice of his genius. Strangely enough, he not only caught onto the swing of things, but he gave the world GG Allin, so all is forgiven.
Anyhow, we're off to see some haters now...
A real group of hippies hostile to punk were Rokker, who in 1979 couldn't understand the thinning fanbase at their shows, and penned a few pokes at their competition on their debut 7" EP.
What many started to focus on was the suburban upbringing most in the punk scene actually had, feeling the kids were playing pretend rebellion. In Australia, From the Suburbs released the track "Suburban Boy" on their Mug's Game LP in 1978, with those very complaints.
Only the next year, songwriter Dave Warner wrote the track "Suburban Rock" for From the Suburbs' Free Kicks album. a scathing song that cautions people about the pitfalls of the punk scene, supposedly written after a few meet-ups with legendary producer Kim Fowley.
Punks in the U.K. had their own haters when New Wave of British Heavy Metal band Race Against Time gave the 1980 metal scene "Bleed You Dry," directed straight at a friend who had the gall to want to play another style of music besides metal.
Another act in the U.K. that made punk-hate history was comedy rock band Alberto y Lost Trios Paranoias, and their jab at punk became an entire musical, Snuff Rock, in 1976.
Strange how a label known for punk releases, Stiff Records, would put out a collection of songs from this opera. Each song in the show consisted of jokes aimed at the punk bands of that time: "Gobbing on Life" (Sex Pistols), "Kill" (The Damned), and "Snuffin' Like That" (The Clash).
Even stranger is the case of Doug Mulray. The Australian shock-jock DJ thought to bury a joke about punk deep on his 1982 Oz Records debut, What a Rude Album, with "I'm a Punk." It became a minor hit down under, and gave him a course to keep running on.
This Aussie bastard has the dubious honor of later writing the original version of "Smoked Two Joints" (1986), made famous by alterna-losers Sublime—all while much of the public placed the blame on poor Bob Marley, who died before the song was even penned.
A few say The Tubes' "White Punks on Dope" and "Sheer Heart Attack" by Queen were two public callouts of punk music. The truth is the tracks were released a year apart (1974 and 1975, respectively), and were too early in music history to be doing so. While Patti Smith was hanging around with Blue Öyster Cult, and though Suicide were using the term "punk" by then, it wasn't enough of a household term at that time for anyone far enough outside of New York to notice.
Others are marked by gossip as being enemies of punk music, such as Billy Joel, whose song "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" was seen as a diss, when he's actually stated in interviews, "I thought punk rock was healthy for the music business, which had gotten bloated."
A few bands' hate was real, but well-hidden. The Pet Shop Boys admitted "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)" was a shot at punk's attitude, and Eddie Van Halen told Guitar World that he wrote 1978's "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" to parody punks, but it didn't come off right. I wonder if the Minutemen recorded their cover of it because they knew that, or—if not—would still have sung it after discovering that little known fact? I mean, The Diodes covered "Red Rubber Ball" specifically because Paul Simon hated punk music.
Well, hidden or open, the hate is there. While most of it was innocent jealousy or even misunderstanding, the reality of it is that there were those outside of music that thought punk was a Marxist conspiracy to undermine Western society—like U.K. Conservative Party politician and chairman of the Arts Council during the late-'70s, Bernard Brook-Partridge.
This outlook soon took hold in Ronald Reagan's U.S., and the early-'80s proved to be a difficult time for punk and its offshoot, hardcore. Many a preacher's sermon began pointing out the perils of it.
In the heyday of the moral majority, 1980, the Christian comedy group Isaac Air Freight took punk head on through their LP Foolish Guys... to Confound the Wise. Among the peppered skits and songs chastising children on the woes of sin, is one where they pretend to be punk band "KUSS."
Around this time, TV shows took up the mantle of the religious right, and 1982 was the year America became scared shitless over a style of music. Thanks to the January airing of CHiPs, where Jon and Ponch battle a mad punk rocker who fronts the band Pain...
...and in December, the year was well-rounded when the episode "Next Stop, Nowhere" of Quincy M.E. played the good doctor against self-harming punk outfit Mayhem.
By that year, punk was feeding upon its own essence, becoming a caricature of what it once was, and the underground began taking shots at itself. Descendents sang "I'm Not a Punk" on Milo Goes to College...
...and John Waters' egg lady, Edith Massey, released her 7" single of "Big Girls Don't Cry" with a B-side of her original, "Punks, Get Off the Grass."
Being a latchkey kid raised on TV and radio, it's a wonder I escaped that era with any morals at all. Those manners didn't keep me from lashing out in song, but I always remained pretty subdued in my lyrical attacks. I only later learned that if you have to set it out, then get it out, so I understand if any of you feel you need to let the hate flow.