Blog #5

Both The Decline of Western Civilization and José Muñoz’s essay offer a nuanced view of the punk subculture and what it meant to its participants.

The Decline manages to capture the bands and the L.A. scene in all their raw and gritty glory without being exploitative or sensationalist – the effect on the audience being, as some of you suggested in class, that punk is a dangerous, nihilistic, and somewhat deranged movement. On the other hand, however, Muñoz focusing not only on the same scene, but also on the same bands (especially The Germs), enriches this reading and acknowledges the ways in which this celebration of stupidity and togetherness announces an important political project.

Providing examples from/referring to both works, explain how (and if!) Muñoz’s piece has changed and informed your understanding of punk acquired through The Decline. Feel free to raise questions for which you don’t have an answer (yet), and to reinforce your argument with external primary sources (a punk song, a punk poem, any other punk cultural artefact).

Mix/Max Length: 500-1000.


14 thoughts on “Blog #5”

  1. After watching The Decline of Western Civilization (1981), I found the documentary to be very interesting and learned a lot about punk. It helped me get a better understanding of the way the punk subculture developed, and through the different interviews, I was able to learn more about these punk rockers, and their way of living. Most of these punk rock bands have their own way of living. They express themselves and the way they feel through the lyrics of their songs, their behaviors, and attitude. Throughout the film, I made note of the excessive drug use, the violent acts performed, profanity writing, and much more. I also made note of a member of a band, named Darby Crash. He is a legendary punk rocker who performed in the band, The Germs. In The Decline, there was an interview going on with him and it was discussed how he would shatter glass when performing, which would lead to his horrendous injuries on stage. He had to get thirty stitches for jumping and falling on broken glass, where he cut his foot open. Crash also mentioned that he is getting hurt on purpose to keep him from getting bored. Additionally, Crash’s performances were very violent and wild on stage. He yelled a lot and was a figure many people were inspired by. Despite the fact that he died, he still to this day has many fans, all because of his talented work. After reading and analyzing José Esteban Muñoz’s essay, he tends to focus a lot on legendary punk icon, Darby Crash. He discussed the band, The Germs, as well as Crash’s life. Without reading the essay, I was able to infer that the focus of the essay will be placed on Crash because of the title, which I also found engaging. The title of the essay states, “Gimme Gimme This… Gimme Gimme That.” This was a common phrase Crash quoted as “a demand for more.” In The Decline, he mentioned this phrase as well, and expressed, “Somebody gimme a beer.” Muñoz’s essay has changed and informed my understanding of punk acquired through The Decline because he helped me attain more background information about The Germ band and Darby Crash. In Muñoz’s writing, he explained the band name. Muñoz stated, “The band’s name itself is important. The germ is not only a grubby pathogen, a harbinger of disease, but also the germ of a time and place where we rise up from the stultifying moments of alienation that are the presentness of our life… the fictionalized Crash argued, we would see a burn, which is a germ, marking the who that is you” (Muñoz 100). I liked how Muñoz vividly explained the meaning behind the name of the band, both literally and figuratively. Moreover, a punk song I found to be interesting and related to Crash was “Circle One.” This punk song was performed by The Germs, and it referred to a small group that was started. The group basically developed some sort of loyal connection with the band. When Crash felt as though he grew close enough with these people, which were mainly his fans and followers, he burned a circle into their hand. As stated by Muñoz, “Crash had a fantasy about a Germs burn, which was a unique ritual that imagined a certain futurity through the act of burning a circle onto the flesh of a Germs devotee with a cigarette. The afterlife of Crash’s ritualistic scarring is the stuff of punk rock legend” (Muñoz 100). These cigarette burns showed that The Germs gained the people’s trust and so, the group began to grow. After watching The Decline of Western Civilization and reading Muñoz’s piece, I was able to understand the importance of the punk subculture, as well as the hidden meaning behind most it.

  2. The Decline of Western Civilization and Jose Munoz’s essay both create differing perceptions of punk rock in the 1970’s. While the Decline of Western Civilization offers a realistic yet stereotypical point of view, Jose Munoz’s essay delves into the metaphorical and calculated intentions behind the creation of punk rockers.

    The Decline of Western Civilization outlines to the audience that punk rockers are a bunch of nihilistic teenagers who are attempting to remove themselves from the ordinary boring life of a capitalistic citizen and are trying to live life in their own detached ways. Granted, there are varying degrees of punk rock, where it could be as moderate as The Black Flag, or it could be as controversial as the Germs. Nevertheless, the documentary depicted varying shades of punk rock but all with one goal in mind: revolution. It was just the performance of this similar goal that was all very diverse. What struck me within this documentary is the fact that most of these punk rock bands are living in meek settings and were influenced by this lifestyle due to some external social force. For example, at the end of the film, Michael, a teenager, discussed the fact that he didn’t know his biological father. Additionally, Darby Crash, the lead vocalist in the punk rock band called the Germs, did not know his biological father on top of his brother dying on an drug overdose. The lack of a disciplinary figure in a child’s life can create some rift of loneliness within that said individual. Consequently, punk rock creates an emotional tie that these troubled children can associate with as part of an intricate network. However, the documentary presents the fact that some of these fans lack a higher education, thereby lessening the credibility of punk rock within the documentary, Since they were not properly educated, it just seemed to feel like these children were going through their rebellious stage without any ulterior motives.

    Joseph Munoz’s essay clarified the apparent motives behind punk rock in the 1970’s. For example, the Germs was part of an intricate network that these children could associate with, as mentioned previously. However, this is not only due to an emotional tie, it is due to an overbearing responsibility of uprooting the utopian beliefs. Despite the irony and disputability in this ideology, this group shares a common goal, much like any other group. Munoz’s essay refined my skeptical impressions of punk rock into a more open-minded standpoint. Munoz points out that the band name, Germs, was intentionally chosen as part of a larger metaphorical scheme that conveyed punk rock’s true message of revolution. Although germs are perceived as “a harbinger of disease,” their true role in the punk rock philosophy, is the fact that a germ can withstand the constant exposure of bad substances such as pesticides, vaccinations, harmful chemical etc… and still reproduce itself to bypass the dominating organism. Furthermore, the burn markings of a Germ fan, a lit cigarette bud pressed against the skin, represents punk rock philosophy as well. Flames are used to represent the total destruction. Thus, the destruction of one’s skin serves as some sort of a collateral to the cause of the Germs’ revolution. It symbolizes the destruction of society.

    Although, Munoz helped enlighten me on punk rock’s goals, I still believe there are some inconsistencies that need to be explained in his essay. For instance, the whole notion of Nazism with Darby Crash just seemed irrelevant. Furthermore, he has not changed my impression of these punk rockers lacking basic education. If anything, Munoz’s essay attempted to simply explain the purpose of punk rock bands. Therefore, Munoz has elucidated a view of punk rock, but has not changed mine per se. I still believe that it is just a bunch of rebellious teenagers who are trying to be countercultural due to a lack of proper influences.

  3. Deanna Poltiyelova

    Who are punks? When I think of punks I think of mow-hawks, black lipstick, heavy makeup, leather jackets, guitars, loud noise, violence, rebellious, creative and most of all unique.. I do not think of the positives, such as quiet, intelligent, modern, basic, etc. Many documentaries have depicted punks in a number of ways. Some focus on the positives others focus on the negatives. For example the documentary, The Decline of Western Civilization portrays a bunch of punk rockers that are attempting to remove themselves from the ordinary life style and live their own way, rebellious. They are all trying to find themselves in their own world in their own way. They are rebellious and there ae many degrees to punk. The documentary portrays the real truth about punks. I learned so much more about punks and what punks are about. Punks have a different way of expressing their ideas and living. They express their idea through drug use, violence, extreme emotional music, and writing. Punks tend to be outcasts in many social groups because of how they act. This documentary portrayed that punks have their own way of life. The Decline, showed the truth to punks while depicting the group The Germs. The lead singer, Darby Crash, would always shatter glass when yelling through the mic. The glass would hurt the audience members. Darby Crash, had to have extreme stiches when he cut his foot with glass. From Darby’s wild performances many people have adapted this wild sense, screaming, yelling, and acting all violent. Although he was violent, many people fell in love with his act and his fame grew. Knowing all of this from the documentary, when reading Munoz essay it has opened my perspective on punks in general. I have gained more understanding to punks and what they preach for. Munoz has explained the background knowledge of the Germ band and Darby Crash. In Munoz’s writing, he explained the meaning of the band, where they got it from and what it stands for. They explained that the meaning of germ means disease, in which gets bigger and bigger. Munoz stated “Crash had a fantasy about a Germs burn, which was a unique ritual that imagined a certain futurity through the act of burning a circle onto the flesh of a Germs devotee with a cigarette. The afterlife of Crash’s ritualistic scarring is the stuff of punk rock legend” (Muñoz 100). After watching Decline and reading Munoz essay it kind of made me see a different side of punks. In a way I try to always see the positives in every situation, however I just can’t find the interest in punks. I feel as if punks are unintelligent, rebellious, loud, and violent. Yes this is very broad and vague to say however through the film that was evident. Munoz in way portrayed the light in punks, the positives, however it wasn’t enough to sway my mentality. Munoz focused on depicting the history behind punk rock and how it came about however I still believe that punks are outcasts of society who get themselves in trouble.

  4. Blog post #5

    My background knowledge was very bland when it came to the subject of Punk. I always pictured people who supported punk as crazy violent individuals with unique hair styles. However, it is much more than that. After watching The Decline of Western Civilization, the documentary shed light on my knowledge of Punk. There are always two sides to a story and I got to see the views of the punks along with people who don’t support the movement like the police officer. It was evident from the film that the punks sang songs that were relevant to their beliefs like religion, corruption and equality. A connection can be made to the punk and beat generation in a way of how they expressed their similar beliefs. The documentary mentions Darby Crash who was a member of the band The Germs. Darby Crash was said to be very reckless ON PURPOSE to keep him from getting bored. Crash was utilized a great chunk in the essay Gimme Gimme this…. Gimme Gimme that by Jose Munoz. The essay proposes that negativity can be strangely utopian while simultaneously dystopian. It can represent conterminously both innovation and annihilation. The essay considers the desire, indeed the demand, at the heart of punk, for “something else” hence the title Gimme Gimme this…. Gimme Gimme that. Munoz illustrates how Crash had a fantasy of a unique ritual where they burn a circle into a Germ Devotee with a cigarette, and after crash passed away the band Matamos payed tribute to crash and performed this very ritual. The Germs burn is the mark of innovation, of queer belonging-in-difference, or, equally, in secret. The band’s name itself is important. The germ is not only a grubby pathogen, a harbinger of disease, but also the germ of a time and place where we rise up from the stultifying moments of alienation that are the presentness of our life (Munoz 100). The germ burn was significant because it marked acceptance of the punks. Crash left a legacy that inspired many individuals. These two sources on the punks enhanced my knowledge on the topic.

  5. Blog #5
    Both the Decline of Western Civilization and Jose Munoz’s essay “Gimme Gimme This….. Gimme Gimme That” demonstrate a nuanced understanding of the punk subculture and what it meant to its participants. The documentary The Decline of Western Civilization provided me with great insight regarding punk peoples’, and I learned a lot of new things through the individual interviews they had. Many of these punks had various colorful hair-do’s and different kinds of piercings all over their face. Like any other subculture, they were oppressed by society and they had their own way of living; each of the punks considered themselves family to each other. One police officer from the documentary was interviewed and he thought that all of these punks were deprived of love from a young age, so that’s why they dress and act the way they do. All of these deficiencies can most definitely influence and impact young kids. The essay Joseph Munoz wrote discussed about the performance of punk rock commons that were developed from Los Angeles in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Munoz also states an interesting idea where he proposes the lived politics, “Central to this notion of a punk rock commons is the lived politics of the negative, a politics that is brazenly and usefully illustrated in the history of the early Los Angeles punk rock scene. Theories of the commons emphasize idealist notions of collectivity that often feel utopian. Thus the idea of a punk rock commons that is simultaneously utopian and marked by negation seems contradictory at first glance. I propose that we can see the negation that is negativity as something that can be strangely utopian while simultaneously dystopian.”. The title of the essay “Gimme Gimme This….. Gimme Gimme That” was also intriguing because it shows that these people are always in the demand to have more and more. Darby Crash was also introduced in the paper; he was a doomed punk icon who had a band called The Germs. All of his performances were very violent and loud (from documentary), and lots of people were inspired by his talented work. In general, Munoz and the documentary assisted me to further understand about the punks and what they strived for/their goals.

  6. By watching The Decline of Western Civilization and reading Jose Munoz’s essay, my interpretation of punk rock in the 1970s have enhanced. Both offered different perceptions of punk rock and it has led me to believe that the genre is up to one’s depiction. The Decline of Western Civilization shows us a realistic yet stereotypical point of view, while Jose Munoz’s essay goes into depth and provides the symbolic/ intended intentions behind the creation of punk rockers.
    When I watched The Decline of Western Civilization I was automatically intrigued. It defies the idea of counterculture to its full totally by displaying punk rockers as teenagers who attempt to remove themselves from the responsibilities that a capitalistic citizen possesses. The film displays that there are many different levels of punk rock, it could be moderate like The Black Flag, or it could be controversial such as the Germs. Although there are many levels they still had the same goal in mind and that was the idea of “revolution”, the performance aspect was the only thing that made them different for the most part. In punk rock, most people have faced an event that has impacted their life in some way. For example, Darby Crash, the lead vocalist in the punk rock band called the Germs, did not know his biological father on top of his brother dying on and drug overdose. Just imagining the life one goes through not having somewhat to lookout for them/ relate to, presents a challenging aspect on life itself. This is how punk rock creates an emotional tie. It allows for the troubled children to associate themselves with others and live life carelessly for the moment. The only thing I found troubling about the documentary was when they stated fans lack a higher education. It kind of stereotypical to an entire generation and most of the audience may think they are not credible due to one’s opinion.
    Joseph Munoz’s essay offered clarification for the apparent motives behind punk rock in the 1970’s. He discussed that the performance of punk rock originally developed from Los Angeles in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Like states earlier, bands such as the Germs allowed for teenagers to express themselves and associate themselves with a type of culture. It comes as a time of need due to the fact that these kids are found rebelling against the society they live in. Munoz also gives us an image where Darby uses a unique ritual where they burn a circle into a Germ Devotee with a cigarette, and after Darby passed away the band Matamos payed tribute to crash and performed this very ritual. This has made led me to believe that punk rock is a genre where mutual respect is given. In certain genres today we see artist bashing each other, while in punk rock there is a mutual respect that is displayed within the rock stars.
    Punk rock is a genre that defied an era. It continues to be a pathway for those to express themselves and by fully understanding Joseph Munoz’s essay and The Decline of Western Civilization it has enhanced my views of the ideal as well.

  7. After reading Jose Munzos I feel very differently from the way I felt after watching The Decline of Western Civilization by Penelope Spheeris. The Decline offered a more harsh understanding of the Punk age, possibly because it was a visual. Jose Munzos’s article on the Punk subculture was displayed as a more wholesome group. For example, when I watched a mosh pit, I got uneasy and uncomfortable. In the documentary it said that the music is too slow to really dance to – meaning you can dance do it but it is uncomfortable, so people start fighting instead. The fighting, the mosh pit, it all seemed unnecessary and almost disappointing. One person in the documentary also kept saying that he was the way he was because he is ‘searching’. However, he didn’t have an answer to what he was searching for. He had no aim, no goal, no hope. He was just aimlessly searching. From the documentary this seemed like the whole idea. People were ‘searching’ and being violent because they felt a void and they didn’t know how to fill it properly. As a person that has a wholesome life, it was hard to connect with this and see eye to eye.
    Jose Munzos offered a different outlook on Punk. He acknowledged the violence and the aimless searching, but he put a positive spin on it. His article left the reader feeling a sense of understanding, and a sort of appreciation almost. His perspective was that their violence and fighting during a concert, the mosh pits, all of the bodily touching and togetherness was not stemming from hatred, but rather for a sense and thirst for unity. They were in desperate need for the sensation of togetherness. Munzos said that although it wasn’t the most outwardly pure of circumstances, it was possibly one of the most pure internally experiences at the same time. Meaning, that although one was a singular individual, he was attached to the crowd through something much larger than himself. The loud music and the sense of togetherness was so strong and powerful, it was almost a holy experience. It took such a dirty experience to something that maybe held powerful meanings and potential. After reading his take on the Punk age and the Punk subculture, I am much more at ease about the whole thing.
    I am not a lover of the Punk subculture, but after reading Munzos article, I appreciate it. There are areas that still make me uneasy and disappointed, but I loved the positive spin Munzos took on it all. To each their own – this was their way of expressing themselves and feeling wholesome – trying to fill their voids. They have a void and although they aren’t taking action as I personally would, at least they recognize their voids and they’re trying to fill it and fix it, and that I feel deserves an applaud. Munzos article presented a positive spin that definitely impacted my feelings and thoughts towards them as people and as a subculture.

  8. Blogpost #5

    The documentary opened my eyes to the actual world of punk. However, when I heard the loud music these people listened to, it hurt my ears, and I couldn’t understand the words. I’m not one to judge, to each their own, but I didn’t really enjoy it. Another honest thought, I never thought about punk rockers, and before watching the documentary I just imagined a bunch of racist drug addicts that criticized all but their own. After watching the documentary, I wasn’t entirely quite wrong, punk supporters opposed people of higher authority such as cops, and drank constantly throughout the day. Most punk rock bands live their own lifestyle and express this to their supporters. A popular part of the film was an interview with someone named Darby Crash who was part of a band and was known to be reckless on stage on purpose. Through his loud yelling and glass breaking actions, many people were inspired and looked up to him. When asked in the documentary how often they drank, many said as early as when the liquor store opened (6AM) to as late as when it closed (2AM). Many also started drinking during their pre-pubescent years, which shocked me. I did realize that they genuinely didn’t care about what others thought about them because they had each other. Punks got their feelings hurt in different times of their life, however, they covered them with the spikes on their head, different colored clothing, and tattoos. To punk supporters, it’s not about the way you look or your age, it’s all about how you live your life. According to one of the punk supporters, being a punk isn’t about what you are, it’s about what you are not, which is not selfish and there is a form of mutual respect towards each other. Each punk supporter dressed differently and their clothes symbolized themselves. After reading the essay written by Joseph Munoz, I also got a better clarification of the punk culture. For example, going back to Darby Crash and his band, The Germs, Munoz discussed a lot about them, their songs, and their meaning. The band was one of the connections between the reading and the documentary. Munoz discussed the meaning of the band’s name, he talked about Crash, and the inspirations the fans gave him and vice versa. The Germs band, along with many others, allowed for teenagers and various other people to feel accepted in a certain society and allowed them to express their feelings through looks and design. Punk supporters knew they wouldn’t be judged by their own there was always a form of mutual respect. Like stated before, both the essay and the documentary expanded my views on the punk era and how these groups of people led their day to day lives.

  9. During our studies of sub-cultures, we can assume that punks would somehow be the same in that they aren’t treated with the respect they deserve. To be honest, at first my thought of the word “punk” and the possible meanings behind these types of people were way off. Its always good to understand and digest who people are, and why they act in a certain way. Different is not bad, rather it shows the beauty of life and how everyone has something special to them that another person can not take away. The Decline of Western Civilization helped me understand the true meaning of “punks”. Like the beat generation and authors such as Ginsberg, punks express their thoughts a bit differently. Some examples, are their use of drugs, love for the arts, music, and writing. In the beginning I doubted the writing part, because I felt as though it was not culturally normal to put those two ideas together. I realized I was extremely wrong and didn’t know a thing about what I was talking about. Like me, we see an officer with a lack of knowledge himself during the movie. He claims that the punks were not loved when they were in their youth and that it affected them to be who they are. I perceive these comments as negative toward the punks, and believe as though the officer didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. All this goes back to the idea of capitalism, and the dramatic affects it has left on the society we live in. Sadly, these affects are negative and don’t portray a society that can think freely without social consequence. When looking at the punk society, we can see a sense of unity and trust within one another. The sad part is, that lacks in other people, yet they complain about punks and discriminate against them. During the movie, punks were shown to have each other’s backs which in my eyes is one of the most important social aspects necessary in a healthy society. Munoz takes a different approach to explaining the punk society. He goes into detail in trying to make the reader understand the little details. In other words, he tries to resemble the punks with nice regular everyday people as best as he could. Munoz tries to tell the history of punks by explaining how they have come so close today. After reading slowly and slowly, readers continuously became more understanding of who the punks truly. Munoz incorporated an interesting idea when explaining the band’s name, Germs. First of all, germs describe something that people want to run away of. Yet the reason for the picking of this name, is because it fits their representation pretty well. Sub cultures are all about the misrepresentations that society assigns a group of individuals. The same could be seen with the beat generation movement and how society perceived them in such a defamatory way. There should be a stop to judgment without understanding the basis. Without true inspection, comes unseen and unfair rule.

  10. After reading Muñoz’s essay regarding the aspects of the Germs, specifically Darby Crash, my understanding of the lifestyle of a punk rock star has changed. While The Decline was able to offer a deeper understanding of the Punk movement, it wasn’t until I read Muñoz’s that I was able to understand the deeper implications behind the mind of Darby Crash, and his punk rock experience.

    For instance, prior to watching The Decline I had little idea of what it meant to be a punk and I knew little about them. I always assumed that they were rebels, antisocial, problematic, and disorderly. However, once I watched the documentary, I realized that most of the people that made up the punk movement were in their twenties. While they did display nihilistic attributes, I realized that the majority of them just wanted to express themselves and diverge from societal norms of those times. I also discerned the idea that the reason that most of these people such as Jennipher and Michael joined the Punk movement was to vent their emotions and/or to hide their emotions. For example, Jennipher describes how she is “very good at hiding her feelings” which she uses as a coping mechanism for her depression. Because of this, she claims to be able to control her depression which results in her feeling detached from everyone around her.

    After reading Muñoz’s essay, my knowledge about the punks was increased and I was able to discern more about the behavior of the punks. He raised the implication that perhaps one the main reasons that the punks acted this way could be because they were trying to cover up their sexuality or they were trying to express themselves without being scrutinized. For instance, Muñoz mentions the song “The Other Newest One” which depicts what he calls a “moment of secret recognition” and “…an ode to the lusty and sweaty scene of an aleatory encounter for queer boy…”. He also notes that “the queer scenarios and energies that run throughout his work are instantly glimpse-able if one has any access to a queer sensibility…”. He makes these remarks to demonstrate the fact that Crash’s songs secretly contained cryptic meanings regarding homosexuality.

    Furthermore, after reading Muñoz’s essay I was left with the impression that in a way, the punk movement was used as either an opportunity or an excuse for people to express their sexuality cryptically. Crash, as seen in the documentary and in the essay, had a miserable life and over the years his anger towards himself was built up and bottled inside. It only seemed natural for him to become a punk since he saw it as an opportunity to vent his emotions. What I would like to understand even further is if Munoz’s essay could also be applied to other punks at the time or if Crash was the only exception, which I doubt.

  11. When picturing punk music in my head I imagine people who wear all black, dark black eyes, black lipstick, platform shoes, mohawks, and all these chains, just imagining “scary” looking people, not the norm of society. I think the average person associates punk with rebellion, anger, and almost “weird.” In the documentary, The Decline in Western Civilization, shows the reality of punk and how it is completely different from what people, including myself, really think it is. The documentary shows this counterculture of being teenagers who try disassociating themselves from ordinary responsibilities everyone has to do. The punk bands would write the lyrics to their songs reflecting their exact feelings and attitudes in a way that is expressing themselves. All the bands had the same ultimate achievement which was creating a revolution. Their expressiveness comes through violence, and drugs. One majorly known and loved punk superstar was the lead singer of The Germs, Darby Crash. People fell in love with his life performances due to his extreme, rather dangerous way of performing. He would smash and step on glass causing major injuries to himself. He once had to get multiple stitches from cutting himself on glass while performing. Crash admitted that he would do insane things to keep himself from getting bored or dull. In Jose Munoz essay, “Gimme Gimme This…Gimme Gimme That,” brought light to the themes behind the counterculture of punk. Punk allowed all these bands to be apart of something, a part of a culture that they felt most associated with and could be their true self. Throughout all the violence punk is there was a lot of mutual respect amongst each punk band and they saw themselves as a family, not as competition against each other. The purpose of the essay was to break the stereotypical view of punk and to bring open-mindedness to a culture that though was rebellious, was hoping to be accepted and find acceptance within its members.

  12. The documentary “The Decline of the Western Civilization”, was a very engaging and factual film. It helped me understand why the Punks behaved the way they did during the film. Before watching the documentary, I didn’t know a whole lot about the Punks. However, the film provided examples of different punk bands and the types of music they created. Additionally, it mentioned different famous punk rockers. For example, Darby Crash was mentioned in the documentary. He was a well-known punk singer who performed in the band, The Germs. During the film there was a scene where he talked about how he would jump on broken glass, which caused him to get multiple stitches. He also mentions that he does this on purpose because this helps him from being bored. Although, Darby Crash died, he still has many fans and will always be important to punks. While reading and analyzing José Esteban Muñoz’s essay, I noticed that he also mentions a lot about Crash in his essay. For example he mentions, “To that end, this essay’s central presence is the tragically doomed punk icon Darby Crash and his legendary band the Germs” (98). This shows that Muñoz believes Crash is a legendary figure and how he is going to mention Crash and the Germs in his essay. Additionally, the film and the essay both talked about “mosh pits.” Mosh pits is an area where punks dance to rock music and jumping up and down. When punks jump up and down in a mosh pit it is called “pogo.” Punks participate in pogo because this creates an abnormal adrenaline. Additionally, mosh pits create a scene that comes to life for the punks. The yelling and screaming that goes on in there is to help them relieve stress. While watching the film I did see people pushing each other around, however they weren’t too violent which showed that it was controlled. Additionally, the mosh pit was a place where queers could interact with other punks. For example Muñoz states, “The story of “The Other Newest One” conjures the electrifying and animating world of touching and breathing along with other boys in the mosh pit. Was the gateway for many boys to touch other boys without having to wear a helmet and catch balls in the air” (102). This displays the idea that anyone was welcomed in the mosh pits. Furthermore, the title of the essay “Gimme Gimme This…Gimme Gimme That” sounded very familiar; then I remembered hearing it in the documentary. The film mentioned it when they talked about Darby Crash. This was a typical phrase that Crash used when he wanted more of something. For example, in the film he demands for more beer by saying, “somebody gimme a beer.” A song that stood out to me while watching the documentary was “Depression” by Black Flag. This song stood out to me because it talked about depression and also the way they turned a phrase into a song. Overall, after watching the film and reading the essay I got an understanding of punks and their music.

  13. It was very interesting and truly eye-opening to, both, watch The Decline of Western Civilization and read José Muñoz’s essay “Gimme Gimme This…Gimme Gimme That”. When watching The Decline of Western Civilization, I almost felt like there was a certain message that was trying to be made, or put out there for the viewer to absorb; it almost felt like the film itself was barely touching the surface of what punk really is. Muñoz’s essay helped in clearing up some of those gray spots.

    The film immediately begins by portraying punks in their stupidity- younger kids smoking, putting straws, drinks, and fingers in their noses; calling others “Filth” because “they smell bad”, or “troll”, or “spoon”. It all seems to be very shallow and lacking in meaning, and greater purpose. Furthermore, Penelope Spheeris films a cop giving a testimonial of what he believes to be the reason/meaning behind what punks do. He states “they’re looking for the attention they didn’t get while growing up…with the way they dress, the mohawks, piercings, tattoos, leather, chains..”; he believes that they act in order to see “who can do craziest thing, most outrageous thing so everybody notices them.”
    This perception or interpretation of punks seems to be flamboyantly hitting the surface, as I mentioned earlier. Muñoz’s digs deeper into this in his essay, and offers insight.
    Rather than them acting selfishly as the cop echoes in his statement of them looking for the “attention they didn’t get while growing up”, punks are an artistic movement in which they are part of a “a larger choreography of being and belonging, of life within a circle that expands and grows” according to Muñoz. Punks are more focused on a logic than the set of practices that the cop discusses, such as their fashion, hair styles, piercings etc. They’re actions were meant to negate, and disrupt the status quo. Muñoz mentions this, that while their actions and beliefs do follow annihilation, it also can represent innovation; innovation in the desire to look for “something else” that does not follow the “pattern of a devastated present.”
    Furthermore, it was great to gaining a deeper understanding of the mosh pit and its function through Muñoz’s essay. While the film can depict the mosh pit as a violent scene in which punks are simultaneously expressing themselves and harming others, Muñoz illuminates that the mosh pit as a scene that united the punks- it was where the punks and commons came together. He writes, “not to do harm, but instead to touch in a way not predicted on mastery and control, signaling a salient desire for an encounter, and engaged participation, an invigorating melee”, Muñoz helps clarify that the mosh pit was not only a scene for punks to express themselves, but also an encounter for queer boys.
    I appreciate Muñoz essay in that it allowed for me to gain a more broad and clear understanding of punks after watching The Decline of Western Civilization. The film itself left me searching for a source with more context and background (as they say “believe only half of what you see”;). I was pleased to read Muñoz essay, and have some of my questions and points of uncertainty addressed.

  14. Blog #5

    Both works extend the theme of counterculture. To talk about punk, I have to relate to this key word because it makes why punks are being nihilistic and why they are being so opposite from others. Before reading two works, I thought punks are just the crazy people who want to do things differently for following their own trend. I thought they were just bunch of unreasonable people do unreasonable things, in which refusing to make connection of with rest of the people the whole society. I didn’t understand why they did that. What benefits will they receive for not following the conventional norm? Why they are enjoying staying in a group play their songs all day long without going out to earn money? Money versus hobbies, which one is more attractive to them? After I read these two works, I figure out Punks are a group of people actually want to do something for their lives, rather following the trend. Going back to counterculture. This word might be the best to explain their situation. The larger purposes or motivations of counterculture are for living in a better or meaningful life. Like punks that were mentioned in the Western Decline, jump from a high stage, they broke leg, dropped out from the schools are all just for make their life meaningful. This connects what Crash defines his punk life from the reading, Gimme Gimme This. “Crash wanted to belong to something larger through his messy martyrdom; he desires to die young/beyond finitude to a vaster plurality.” Punks action is also associate with the symbolic definition of the name of a band, Germ. In the reading, it states that the Germ “rise up from the stultifying moment of alienation, signal the potential of our life to take the shape of something beyond the here and now.” So, the reason they did these what outsiders regard as the crazy things is they want to live in their own way. They don’t care what other people think. Others don’t understand them, it’s fine, they could make their own community, and people in their field will understand each other. They would rather to “die young” rather than doing something that hated for their rest of their lives. They satisfy of being who they are and what they are doing. Somehow, I start to like their living style because they can just do their favorite things at any time and any place. They can start a short concert in their living room, garage, or even on the street. They shout and scream out their pressure and excitement through their songs. This is what makes Punk unique and emphasize the counterculture. A lot of their songs are black metal or hardcore which is not socially acceptable during the 1980s. But they don’t care, they just shout and screams to say whatever they hate and say the sensitive topics about hating politics and religion.

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