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Thoughts on Nerdcore Rising

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I know I promised you guys a review and its still coming, but there’s something else I wanted to talk about first.

So, there’s a new trailer for Nerdcore Rising out and honestly? It kind of annoys me.

The reason for this is summed up by the short appearance of Jello Biafra. His quote in the clip is, “beware your stereotypes, because they can turn into prisons” or something very close to that. Fans of Nerdcore should take heed of Jello’s comment, he knows of what he speaks.

For those who aren’t familiar with Jello, he is probably best known as the former front man of the highly influential San Francisco punk band, The Dead Kennedys. As the singer for DK Jello helped create hardcore punk.

There’s a lot of romanticism of hardcore these days, but what is sometimes missed is that hardcore almost destroyed punk in America.

By 82 or 83 hardcore shows in the US were being overrun by hyper violent, sometimes racist, thugs who were drawn as much, if not more, to the violence of the pit as to the music itself. As a result of this, a lot of people who had helped create the post British punk scene in America split. And there was a definite school of thought that the whole experiment was a failure and that the scene should just be left to these thugs.

You can catch a glimpse of this turmoil in the songs that Jello wrote for DK’s last album, Bedtime for Democracy, released in ’86. On the album Jello turned on the punk scene, using his honed observational skills and biting wit to write songs like Anarchy For Sale and, particularly, Chickenshit Conformist.

I don’t know the whole history of this era in punk, just bits and pieces. Jello’s obvious disgust with the scene, how it played a role in breaking up bands like Black Flag and pretty much all of the other well known bands that were still around at the time. The people that jumped started the punk movement didn’t want to be associated with what it turned into and so they left.

While I don’t know the full story, I’m enough of a hometown kid to know the legend of Revolution Summer. When what was left of the DC punk scene decided that to save their scene, they would have to destroy what they had created. They openly antagonized people in the scene who were giving into the stereotypes. They broke all the rules of what hardcore was supposed to be. Hardcore, at the time, was mostly just brain dead politics and macho bullshit. So, the DC kids started writing songs about their feelings and performing highly emotional shows (inventing emocore in the process). They also openly questioned the practice of slam dancing at shows (which was pretty much the only reason that a fair number of people were coming). Revolution Summer is another period that is romanticized by a lot of people, but in reality it was open warfare between what punk was and what it was turning into.

That punk survived this period is something of a minor miracle.

The reason that I’m going into all of this here is because of what Jello said. There is a stereotype that those on the outside of Nerdcore are dyeing to pin on the scene. That its just a joke. That it isn’t serious. I know this is going to come across as overly sensitive and somewhat militant, but I’m not sure how else to say it, so I just will. Those who care about Nerdcore as a movement, as something with a future, should do everything in their power to avoid this stereotype.

I realize that this is just a teaser for the film and I realize that humor is a key component of Nerdcore. A lot of people are only going to see that trailer though. And the message of that trailer is, ‘don’t worry, this is just a joke. No need to take anything in this scene seriously. Its just a silly little gimmick/fad.’ And that message, especially when it looks like its coming from the scene itself, is pure death. It is the end of the scene before it could even get started.

May be I’m over analyzing the situation. May be I’m just to sensitive. Let’s bring this back to Jello’s comment. “beware your stereotypes, because they can turn into prisons.” This is how I interpret this brief sound byte. If you indulge the stereotype that this is just a joke. Then all it will ever be is a joke.

Written by Matt

January 8th, 2007 at 7:54 pm

Posted in Nerdcore,Thoughts