Tag Archives: Social Justice

Punk Rock and How it Influenced My Entry into Public Health…And How it Continues to Influence Me

Everybody has influences in their life.  Their parents, their friends, pop culture.

For me, it was–and continues to be–punk rock.

I currently work in health communication.  Working in health communication is all about focusing on how to make health messages more impactful.  Many studies have shown that there is a dearth of research that gets into practice.  In other words, many resources are spent and used to create impactful things…Without an impact being created.

Communication is a large reason for this.  Many ideas are brilliant in their creation and potential use, but are simply never used or maybe not even known about.  Effective communications and branding can also make an ineffective program get a better reputation from outsiders (i.e. DARE).

I grew to enjoy punk rock as an adolescent.  As a teenager (and even when I got older) it represented an outlet.  There are more than a few reasons why.

Accessible and Immediate

In my opinion, punk rock is rock in its simplest form, undistilled and raw.  Punk is also incredibly accessible and immediate.  Anyone with a guitar can play a punk rock guitar riff.  And in many ways, that’s what has made it attractive to me.

The only main musical rules of punk are loud, fast, and accessible.

Familiar

Punk often appropriates previously used musical tropes into a new package.  The Jam is a perfect example of this.

The Jam is one of my favorite punk acts, often using mod fashion from the British Invasion (think The Kinks, The Beatles, The Who) and soul to new ends.  Peter Weller and the rest of the band were huge mod fans, all it takes is a look at their third album title All Mod Cons.

Concise

Punk rock, quite plain and simply gets to the point.  Quick.  It’s even better when it uses humor.  Just like The Rezillos.  One of the greatest debuts of all time.

Impactful and Powerful (visceral)

Historical points of view/Storytelling

Punk rock is often unpleasant, intentionally so.  It often pushes truth to the forefront and doesn’t sugarcoat.  Rather than ignore, punk rock often brings injustice into the light.

I also truly believe the only way we can move forward is often when looking towards the past.  Punk rock has some amazing songs focused on a point of view unlike any other, that of the disenfranchised or misunderstood.

One of my personal favorites is “Little Boy Soldiers” off of The Jam’s Setting Sons. It tells a heartbreaking, harrowing story of British youths who go off to war with noble intentions and leave forever changed.  Absolutely amazing lyrics.  Pure angry poetry.

Righteous Anger

Speaking of anger, much punk rock is focused on righteous anger, fighting for those without a voice.

An extremely formative band during my youth was The Clash.  My pick for greatest punk band of all time, The Clash is a perfect amalgam of straightforward rock, catchy hooks, excellent lyrics, and a belief in the potential for something better.

This wasn’t summed up in a better fashion than The Clash’s song “The Magnificent Seven”, detailing various forms of corruption and injustice, including but not limited to police corruption, alcoholism and overall ignorance.

In my humble opinion, we should all use punk rock as a compass.  It has many virtuous values that have guided where I have gone and continue to go.

Punk rock: Not just for punks.

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