Straight-Edge and the Scene
For some youth it’s all about the scene. What is the scene? The scene is a general reference to the music venues in which these youth participate. The straight-edge subculture is one that many may not be familiar with. Why is this? Probably because the straight-edge lifestyle is one of the few countercultures in which the youth that is involved tries to steer clear of drugs and overindulgence. It is closely related to the hardcore/punk music scene. The straight-edge lifestyle refers to people who are involved with the hardcore/punk lifestyle but they refrain from drinking alcohol, using drugs, smoking cigarettes, and promiscuous sex. This subculture was created as a social movement against authority, drug abuse, and any type of overindulgence associated with punk rock (Kirchner, 2009). Background: the 1970’s to the Present
Individuals who are straight edge take a pledge to live a drug, promiscuous, alcohol, and cruelty free lifestyle. Sometimes, this even extends into vegetarianism and veganism and Hare Krishna, a belief based on Hindu scripture (Kirchner, 2009). The basic philosophy of the straight-edge lifestyle centers around self control and regaining as much of one’s personal control over their lives as possible, by getting rid of the negative influences (Kirchner, 2009). Straight-edger’s, a common nickname, usually are involved with the environment, animal rights and pride their counterculture on keeping their focus on higher learning and a positive outlook (Wood, 2006). The straight-edge subculture emerged in the late 1970’s (Wood, 2006). The term straight-edge was coined by musician Ian MacKaye in a song called “Straight Edge” which he wrote for his band, Minor Threat. Their music was fast and powerful with angry and thoughtful lyrics, which is how straight-edge seemed to be viewed as at first. With further understanding, it was found that the straight-edge lifestyle was the opposite. In the 1970’s only a slew of prominent artists rejected drugs and alcohol and influenced the straight-edge ideology (Wood, 2006). After the term straight-edge was thrown out into the music community, many people picked up on it and many other bands for decades to come centered their music and lifestyle on the straight-edge, drug free lifestyle. Minor Threat was the first band to use the term straight edge and adopt the letter X as a representation of being straight-edge and living the lifestyle. The X symbol was believed to originate from the use of the letter on people who were underage (under 21) to symbolize that they were too young to drink at the shows and became the symbol for straight-edge by being used on album covers, as body art, and other paraphernalia (Kirchner, 2009). In the 1980’s the influence of music on the straight-edge seemed to be at an all-time high. Many bands seemed to be using the straight-edge lifestyle as a stepping stone and inspiration for their songs. During the mid-1980’s many of the vegetarianism and veganism ideas stemmed out and gripped straight-edge community members (Cogan, 2008). This propelled a trend towards animal rights and vegetarianism that would reach its peak in the 1990’s.
Straight-edger’s want to be directly involved with both the music community in which they support, by either playing in a band or writing a webzine or article for the music and their regular community by helping with any aspect of it. Straight-edger’s use this subculture to move away from the stigma of destruction that hardcore and punk music seems to have veiled over the industry. Militant straight-edger’s were first identified in the early 1990’s. These individuals were characterized by less tolerance for those who were not straight-edge, more outspokenness, and more willingness to resort to violence in order to promote clean living and fight against homosexuality and abortion (Woods, 2006). This willingness to resort to violence led to some parts of the...
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