As I walk through every High Street, I see punks, goths, mods, greasers; name a pivotal movement or lifestyle and it's there. Step into any chain store and you can pick up a pre-distressed biker jacket, creepers and your favourite band shirt.
Now maybe I'm cynical but I just don't buy it. By that I mean I don't buy that these people are passionate about the bands they sport on their T-Shirts. I don't buy that they were ridiculed in school or stared at on the street for the way they look. There was a time when you would be ousted and punished for "faking it" by your peers. Now it seems few people have any perception of what it means to be truly alternative, and instead of standing out, the result of their efforts is that they are simply fitting in.
I worked hard to be the way I was...which is the way I still am. I wasn't from a multi-cultural metropolitan city. Where I was raised was a world apart from the scenes happening in London. Dressing like I was from 1964 made me a soft target for ape-like men and women, who were all afraid to be noticed for anything other than their good looks or how much they could drink before they fought someone half their size. When I wasn't in any physical danger I suppose I got a kick out of it too. I never wanted to be like them anyway, and my lifestyle and interests were part of a statement for me.
It feels like those statements are few and far between. There is a more diverse range of looks in the street than ever. But it just seems like the bandwagon has swept them off their feet. What I'm alluding to must be akin to how Sonic Youth and Mudhoney felt when Nirvana exploded. It tore apart their happening. Grunge was king and everybody wanted to cash in on it. By proxy they were made mainstream practically overnight, and the people that mocked them weeks before were now wearing flannel shirts and Doc Martens and no doubt had one of their records. Ouch!
I know it's been happening for years. Joe Strummer complained in White Man In Hammersmith Palais,
"The new groups are not concerned
With what there is to be learned
They got Burton suits, ha you think it's funny
Turning rebellion into money"
But with the development of the Internet it feels different somehow. I love the Internet and the pool of information it provides us with. I can delve deeper in to my obsessions like never before thanks to some extremely informative blogs and sites out there. But it used to be that a lifestyle was influenced by a music scene or vice versa. Now it's all too easy to pick a bastardized imitation of a style on lookbook to copy, and sadly probably all the bands you look up to are doing the same thing, and you wear that uniform for a couple months before you move on to the next look.
To me it just feels contrived, and it's easy to spot someone who is faking it. Maybe that's why I always find the Hells Angels so fascinating. It's the genuine imagery of a person who is truly living what they wear that is always the most striking for me.
Granted, my passions have spread farther than 1964 and I feel okay with wearing something other than a Fred Perry shirt, a parka and desert boots. It's more that when you find something you love it doesn't change overnight. It becomes part of you, and there is a clear organic progression in the other things you come to love. It's all born out of your initial passions. But I'm not going to turn around tomorrow and start wearing aztec prints and waving glow sticks, because I don't know the first thing about the rave scene and frankly I don't care for it.
My point really is that for over a decade now everything has felt so bland, and I can only hope that somewhere there is a positive and genuine youth uprising waiting to happen.
Follow Chris Ellul on Twitter: www.twitter.com/theheavy