The image of modern angst.
Last week, the Daily Mail reported that Twilight actress and notable pile of wet laundry Kristen Stewart was spotted wearing a Black Flag t-shirt (the Everything Went Black logo, heather grey v-neck, twisted into a side knot omg soo kewt) and more notably, she seemed to have tattooed on her arm what looked like a very fresh, very tiny Black Flag bars logo.
I posted about this on my dumb punk rock blog and every dingus in the world had an opinion on it. Some of the dinguses, like me, had a sense of humor about it and thought it was funny in a facepalmingly ridiculous way. Our mentality was: “Ugh, another day, another celebutard burying punk rock even deeper into its own grave.” Other dinguses had a pretty visceral, defensive attitude towards the dinguses who found it funny. Their mentality seemed to be: “So what? Just because Kristen Stewart likes your pwecious-wecious Black Flag, it doesn’t take away from your enjoyment of the band.“ And then I imagine those people took a giant, satisfying whiff of their own farts and listened to a Macklemore album. One particular fart-sniffing dingus wrote that if this bothered me, I needed help. And while I definitely do need help for unrelated issues (Search WebMD for a condition called “Irritable Dingus Disorder”), I feel like Kristen Stewart having a Black Flag tattoo is a pretty reasonable thing for a punk fan to be a little bummed about. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but as far as day-ruining bummers go, it ranks somewhere between getting the fabric of your coat jammed in the zipper and seeing a homeless dude jack off on the bus.
Sure, Bella Swan having a tattoo and wearing a similar (but, I’m sure, much more expensive) version of a shirt I own does not at all take away from how good Black Flag’s Damaged sounds—nor does it make Family Man sound even vaguely listenable, by the way—but there’s definitely something irritating about it. On a personal level, my problem with it has something to do with the fact that I wore that shirt throughout high school and was promptly mocked relentlessly by dudes with spray tans and spoilers on their Honda Civics. One kid looked at my shirt and told me that once “everything went black,” everything would not go back. Actually, that was kinda funny. The “Black Fag” comment that followed, not so much.
That was back when punk was still somewhat of a countercultural movement. It was a place you turned to when you didn’t fit in with the popular kids and that’s what was great about it. The other great thing was that it gave you an excuse to make terrible hairstyle choices and not wash your clothes for months on end. And now it’s 2013 and punk is slowly being co-opted on a very superficial level by the popular kids and it feels like the genre loses more of its bite every day. That’s the problem with being part of an all-inclusive movement: sooner or later, the shitheads you’re rallying against will want in and it becomes meaningless.
Perez Hilton, noted punk
On a larger level, the problem with celebs adopting punk fashion is that everything they do has a HUGE trickle-down effect. When the Daily Mail reported the story, for example, they included a pop up box on the photo that says, “Get The Look” with a bunch of links to Kristen’s outfit items for sale on Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Ave’s websites. That’s because every single thing a celebrity does, touches, looks at, or farts on is used to sell stuff, and punk, in theory, should not be a used to make money for high-end clothing retailers. The Daily Mail also reported the story with the following headline: “Kristen Stewart gives first glimpse of her angsty new punk tattoo.” And just like that, a story about Black Flag got dragged onto a totally gross garbage heap of vacuous, gossipy tabloid headlines alongside stories like “Bikini-clad Kendall Jenner fools around with 'boyfriend' Julian Brooks on the beach” and “Rihanna tries to soak up the sun in Poland but complains about 'epic fail' beach day after she's forced to take shade.” Those are both real headlines about celebrities I assume exist.
Really, I’m not trying to dump all the blame for this on Kristen Stewart. She seems like a nice person and I thought she did a good job as the little boy in Panic Room. If she wants in on this club of very sad old punks, I say welcome aboard, K-Stew. But it seems like every other week, another celebrity jumps on the punk bandwagon. Sometimes, it’s pretty harmless, like when Hollywood überhunk Ryan Gosling rocks a Misfits shirt, but it stings a lot more when you have to tolerate someone like Chris Brown wearing a studded leather jacket with the Exploited and Suicidal Tendencies logos on it, smirking like a total dickbag AND OH GOD CHRIS BROWN EVERYONE FUCKING HATES YOU, JUST BLOW THROUGH YOUR MONEY AND START DOING CASH-4-GOLD COMMERCIALS ALREADY SO WE CAN ALL LAUGH AT YOU. So that’s where we’re going to draw the line on this whole punk inclusionary thing. We’re drawing it at Chris Brown.
Chris Brown, garbage human
If you want to call this punk rock elitism, then go a-fucking-head. If you never cared about punk rock, or were even just a casual fan, you probably don’t understand the burn of being raised on bands that preached anti-establishment messages only to see them eventually adopted by the establishment. We’re not talking about disgustingly rich celebrities wearing Smash Mouth shirts here. We’re talking about Black Flag, a band that once stood for something more than the music they made, a band that shaped the ethos of a huge community of people.
Ultimately, none of this matters, because if you look at the recent sad-ass Black Flag reunion tour, it’s obvious that punk is pretty much a joke at this point anyway and it’s pointless to even analyze how far it’s slipped into the pit of rampant commercialism. If the joke is on anyone, clearly it’s on us punks for caring, because there’s no way Twihards would give two vampire shits if Henry Rollins got a Twilight tattoo. Although, part of me really wants to see that happen. He seems like a Team Jacob kind of guy. So enjoy your tattoo, Kristen. I hope it sparkles in the sun.