No Cause for Concern? Issue #7 | March 1983 | Page 2 | editorial
This issue was very hard to put together as this time I had to do [a lot of] the writing myself -- something I find very boring. I'd much rather be typing up other people's work but I don't like twisting arms either.
This issue also has some new people writing and there's also been a change in the type of articles herein. Last issue was incredibly hardcore-oriented, while this issue has moved away from that closed-mindedness (that "if it isn't hardcore, it isn't valid" bullshit) and hopefully it won't happen again. I'd like to keep an even balance between the types of bands N.C.F.C. covers (although I think I overcompensated a bit this time). Maybe next issue will have things back in perspective.
But anyway, the topic of today's editorial is the media and the wonderful way they represent punks.
On a local scale, take our beloved Evelyn Erskin who, in her rampant desire to wipe out anything punk or hardcore or just too radical in this city, stoops to incredible journalistic lows, such as in her M.D.C. review which is full of errors ("Many Dead Cops" I believe she called them) or her article on the club situation in which she twisted quotes and generally proclaim punk a lost cause in this city. It is obvious that the Citizen doesn't care that her articles are faulty or biased, but what can you expect?
She is not the only journalist in Ottawa expressing distaste towards the punk scene though. The Charlatan, a Carleton University publication, has also shown itself to be either unfavorably biased or uneducated in this area. In one review appearing months ago, the writer described the audience to a certain punk show as "Leather-jacketed skin heads and punk girls ... most [of] them still in the throes of puberty" (I didn't know puberty lasted THAT long). The new bands coming out, mainly from California, he called "homophobic little racists". As for uneducated, here's another good one: in an article appearing February 18, Ben Schaub called the Restless Virgins "Ottawa's longest lived (and possible only) punk band". This lad is obviously out of touch.
But these examples are so minor when you think of how the media with international exposure are tainting the public's opinion of what "punk" really is. The prime example being the "Quincy" episode where (for those of you who missed it) punk rock music is blamed for the stabbing death of a punk while slamming on the dance floor. Another is the three-part report on "Hour Magazine" that featured: examples of two "typical" punks (two pathetic, unaware kids); an interview with Serena Dank (founder of "Parents Against Punkers"); a middle-aged woman reading the lyrics to the D.K.'s "I Kill Children" in a serious voice; a conclusion where the reporter looked out at the TV viewer with pleading eyes imploring you to help fight this horrid thing called punk as if she were asking you to help combat some fatal disease or something.
At first I found these two shows humorous but not once you consider that people really do believe them. Not once you realize there are no doubt parents out there who have watched these shows and are now shitting their pants because their offspring dresses differently.
But what can you do? On a local scale I suppose you can write letters protesting these drastic misrepresentations when they appear in the Citizen or the Charlatan, or you can continue to support fanzines which usually provide more accurate views of the scene and just be thankful that 'zines like Maximum RnR and Flipside even exist. For once though, I'd really like to see a national publication expounding on all the positive aspects of "punk".
Anyway, I've tried to keep this short (there are so many more examples of erroneous portrayals of punks in the media I could have gone on and on...) How 'bout the next time you see little Evelyn you try to set her straight.
- Janine Frenken
Two lines from this editorial were quoted in the book "TV a-go-go: rock on TV from American Bandstand to American Idol" by Jake Austen. The book contains a very interesting section on punk including a succinct history and an in-depth look at punk as portrayed in the mainstream media. Link.]