We're Not Here to Entertain: Punk Rock, Ronald Reagan, and the Real Culture War of 1980s America

ISBN : 9780190908232

Kevin Mattson
288 ページ
163 x 237 mm

We remember the 1980s as the era of Ronald Reagan, a conservative decade populated by preppies and yuppies dancing to a soundtrack of electronic synth pop music (the "MTV generation"). But the decade also produced some of the most creative works of punk rock - not just the music of bands like the Minutemen and the Dead Kennedys, but also visual arts, literature, poetry, and film. Kevin Mattson documents what Kurt Cobain once called a "punk rock world." He shows just how widespread the movement became, and how democratic (not at all New York-centric), due to its commitment to Do-It-Yourself (DIY) ethics. Mattson puts this movement into a wider context, telling about a culture war that punks opened up against the sitting president. Reagan's talk about end days and nuclear warfare made kids panic; his tax cuts for the rich and simultaneous slashing of school lunch program funding made punks seethe at his meanness. The anger went deep, since punks saw Reagan as the country's entertainer-in-chief - his career (from radio to Hollywood and television) synched to the very world punks rejected. Through deep archival research, Mattson reignites the heated debates that punk's opposition generated - about everything from "straight edge" ethics to anarchism to the art of dissent. By reconstructing the world of punk, Mattson shows that it was more than just a style of purple hair and torn jeans. And in so doing, he reminds readers of its importance and its challenge to simplistic assumptions about the 1980s as a one-dimensional, conservative epoch.


Preface: From memory to history
Prelude: When Punk Broke and Opened (1979-1980)
Chapter 1. 'Teeny Punks:' Pioneer Your 'Own Culture!' (1980-1981)
Chapter 2. It can and will happen everywhere (1982-1983)
Chapter 3. It's 1984! (1984)
Chapter 4. Marching Towards the 'Alternative' (1985-?)
Conclusion: punk breaks again


Kevin Mattson grew up in the suburban sprawl known as the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area. It was here that he first experienced the punk rock world that fuelled his formative years. He played in bands, wrote for zines, and became politically active, helping to cofound the organization Positive Force. He now teaches American history at Ohio University and is the author of numerous books that explore the intersection between culture and politics.