Straight Edge Subculture (Sxe)

Topics: Straight edge, Hardcore punk, Punk rock Pages: 6 (2063 words) Published: November 30, 2005
The straight edge subculture is a clean lifestyle movement born in a "just say no" era, which has received little attention since its origination in the 1980's. Subcultures, like social movements, engage in conflict over cultural reproduction, social integration, and socialization; they are often especially concerned with the quality of life, self-realization, and identity formation (Habermas 1984-87; Buechler 1995). The basic definition was created during this time in a hardcore-punk song of the Washington, DC, band Minor Threat. Ian Mackaye, the lead singer, wrote a song about living a life without drugs - the song "Straight Edge" included the six legendary words "don't drink, don't smoke, don't fuck" and this gave a name to a new movement amongst the youth of that time and preserved its fascination and attitude up to the new millennium (Irwin 1999). The importance of their song, "Straight Edge" was not only that it was the first time the term was used, but also that it epitomized the movement by encompassing many of its philosophies. The first two lines of the first and second verse, "I'm a person just like you, But I've got better things to do," manifests that unlike previous punk ethics which called from a huge revolution, the straight edger emphasized the individual. Instead of a call for a revelation, they preferred to improve on what they already had. The movement's prominence lied within individual factors and choices. They lyrics of "Straight Edge" enforced the self-critical view of the straight edgers and their longing for purity as a human. The late 1970's and early 1980's held major frustration in the punk scene worldwide because it was mostly about sex, drugs, and rock n' roll, and participants got intoxicated or stoned at every opportunity they had. This began to break down the solid foundation of the strengthening of political power among individuals that created the punk scene. People realized that being "punk" was becoming a mainstream ideal and decided for themselves to resist against the organized chaos and peer pressure. They believed in getting and staying clean in order to save their power for the fight to reach their beliefs. This straight edge (sXe) view on life deliberately changed style to counter the mainstream look and brought a renaissance to the punk scene and created a new kind of subgroup, as well as music now known as old-school hardcore. "Straight edgers" are universally against anything that is involved with self-destructive behavior, but that which constitutes self-destructive behavior is constantly debated. Being true to one's beliefs is the heart of what divides the straight edge subculture from others, as well as among themselves. The original philosophy was simply no drinking, no drugs and no sex, but throughout time it has grown, changed and splintered off into several different directions. Straight Edge is antithetical to the existing drug culture by offering an abstinent identity; while abstaining from alcohol and drugs are universal standards of this subculture, sex, vegetarianism/veganism and political issues are interpreted at different levels (Irwin 1999). These differing opinions on what it takes to be straight edge has caused division throughout the group. Those who follow the straight edge subculture try to demonstrate "clean living" in most aspects (if not all) of their lives. However, no specific details have been given and therefore this lifestyle is widely open to interpretation. The Straight Edge scene is now nearly 25 years old, predating most of the youth who have adopted that identity. In the United States, the typical sXer is a white, middle-class male, aged fifteen to twenty-five (Haenfler 2004:409). This could be because of the geographical areas that the Straight Edge scene is most common, just like the rap scene is more common in disadvantaged, black, neighborhoods and cities. With different people incorporating different ideals into being straight edge,...

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