Stories from the Pit: How does a genre become a culture?

An actual Facebook message I’ve gotten.

I don’t just love the music of the pop punk genre, I’m also very intrigued by its culture. Obviously this music isn’t the only thing in the world that has ever united a group of people under a common interest, but I find the pop punk “culture,” so to speak, has its differences and special characteristics that aren’t always found elsewhere.

That picture above is a legitimate Facebook message I received a while ago. The phrase “pop punk kid” means something, it has attached associations and maybe even stereotypes. It’s a label, and there are bands and phrases and attire and behaviors that are unique to this label.

And if someone says yes to this question, it means something. It evokes an entire persona as opposed to simply a taste in music. It’s an interest that seems to commonly bleed into other parts of a person’s life. I don’t know if this can be said for other genres of music – people like country music, people like pop music and they do have cultural associations, but I don’t see them becoming a label as strong as pop punk.

People don’t walk around asking if you’re a “top 40 kid” or a “rap kid” (as far as I know) but this niche genre is a strong community and creates an instant bond once you find out someone likes the same band as you. I guess you know that they identify with it too in some way and that maybe you’re not so different from someone else. Maybe you’re not alone. It’s a connection.

And this connection becomes even stronger at live shows. Everyone becomes united as one under the same lyrics, the same music that they all fell in love with – and the band that produced them is there. In my experience, it can be pretty emotional.

It’s been compared to the same craze that revolves around boy bands, and the lines have been especially blurred due to 5 Seconds of Summer – a boy band whose music is somewhat pop punk (I haven’t listened to them much). But I think what makes this connection deeper is it’s not just an obsession with cute boys and catchy pop hooks, the lyrics and the ideas in the music resonate with fans.

Pop punk has its own subreddit, r/poppunkers, where people discuss the bands they like and can get down into the ridiculous details no one except for strangers online might care about.

It’s something that must be defended. It’s something that can be a defining characteristic for someone. It can be a part of you.

It’s something that has rules, tests of authenticity. God forbid you ever wear a t-shirt for the band you’re seeing to their show, instead, your attire must attempt to showcase what other bands you like. (I break this one all the time.)

So maybe I don’t quite know the answer as to how this genre of music has exploded into an entire cultural movement, but I still find it interesting that the world can be divided into people who will and won’t understand this video below. Even though it’s satirical, it still captures the essence of pop punk and how it really can be someone’s persona and lifestyle. 10 points if you can tell me where they turned on the fountain. (See 1:28)

Stay posi. Also, if you watch until the end – I’ve been to Melrose Diner. That’s how much of a pop punk kid I am.

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