SPIEGEL SPEZIAL (2/1994): Pop & Politik. Photo: Spiegel.
Campino, singer of Die Toten Hosen, interviewed the then youth minister Angela Merkel for a special issue of the German news magazine DerSpiegel with the title “Pop & Politics” in 1994. The cover featured a collage which comprised of people like Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Bill Clinton playing a saxophone. Among them, Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols glared at the possible buyers in neighbourhood kiosks. In this issue the journalist and pop theorist Diedrich Diederichsen formulated ten theses for contemporary pop culture. Tony Parsons, one of the first journalists to write about British punk from 1976 onwards in the New Musical Express, pondered about the popularity of punk and its relation to mass culture in the 1990s. Punk as a media phenomenon and a lifestyle became part of mass culture and was a topic taken seriously by cultural critics. Continue reading →
Punks in Tallinn, ca. 1982. Photo: Arno Saar, collection of Tõnu Trubetsky.
The first punk bands in the ESSR were established at the end of the 1970s. Punk was blacklisted in the ESSR, after youth riots erupted at a September 1980 concert of the punk band Propeller. During the first half of the 1980s the punk movement was small but steady in size. The punk’s main ways of expression were extravagant behaviour and clothes, organizing illegal concerts and social life in Tallinn’s cafés. Nevertheless, being a punk was socially frowned upon and meant problems with family, in school and in public where the youths were ofter arrested by the militsiya. Continue reading →
The punk scene was in a deep existential crisis when post punk, new wave and goth music and fashion trends finally reached East Germany in the Orwellian year 1984. For the punk community in particular, the prevailing mood was indeed a dystopian one (Pehlemann, Papenfuβ, Mieβner, 2015). Punk was not dead (yet), but East German punk (no) future views increasingly contained a sense of pessimist fatalism, while goths escaped any kind of future scenario by playing already being dead. In any case, change was happening within the cultural underground which corresponded with a broader societal change and a spreading Endzeitstimmung (Wirsching, 2006) during the final phase of the Cold War. This ‘global’ existential fear, caused by political, societal and environmental crises, like nuclear threat, AIDS and environmental pollution (for example the ‘Waldsterben‘: dying forests) inspired both avant garde artists and participants in protest movements on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
Initially, delinquency and crime provided the lens through which academics discussed youth culture. Studying deviant behaviour ensured that criminologists focused on questions of re-education and the relationship between the newly-branded ‘teenager’, delinquency and youth culture.With the emergence of Cultural Studies in Britain, ‘youth’ was interpreted in generational terms, through which a critical understanding of the changing nature of British society could be inferred. Across the academic landscape of historical studies, however, youth cultures tend to play but a minor role in general overviews and historical narratives of the history of European societies after 1945.