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‘The Offspring’s ‘Americana’ Rode Resentment And Respectability Politics All The Way To The...

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Nov 16, 2018.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    Pranav Trewn, writing at Stereogum:

    But what the Offspring popularized is a far more noxious strain of punk music, and especially punk ideals. The band did not revolt against systems perpetuating economic inequality or authoritarianism, but instead expressed a middle-class teenage resentment that comes from already getting everything you want at home but still being forced to go to school. “The Kids Aren’t Alright” and “Why Don’t You Get A Job?” depict the struggles of people with implied choices, who ultimately squander opportunities as they burn out. Because Holland keeps the details that led to those “choices” vague, it’s easy to read the characters in these songs as unsympathetic. You focus on the absence of ambition, not on the factors that eroded it in the first place.

    Interesting argument.

  2. smoke4thecaper

    out of context reference Supporter

    Gotta admit, this is a really interesting & intriguing take. Granted, there's some context to the band's overall career and how precisely "punk" they have been... but I certainly agree with the viewpoint the author brings up. You can hear similar songwriting perspectives on other Offspring records, too.
    Dan O'Neill and Jason Tate like this.
  3. DerekIsAGooner

    So assuming that this weekend...

    This was a great read. It gives me a lot to think about and makes me a little grateful that I never listened to the Offspring beyond casual radio play.
  4. DandonTRJ

    ~~~ヾ(^∇^ Supporter

    That argument falls flat for me because it requires assuming that lyrics of general application must fit all specific fact patterns equally in order to be valid/non-problematic. It's essentially arguing all these tracks should have been laden with specifics negating theoretical structural impediments for various behaviors, which would have made the songs (a) less impactful/universal and (b) more bloated/clunky. It keeps asking "what if [insert sympathetic possibility]?" when that's an exercise you could engage in for millions of songs to ill effect. It's telling that the author doesn't argue that the traits depicted in the songs (emotional baggage, criminality, irresponsibility, etc.) are good by any means, merely that they're potentially excusable in certain scenarios. Which, fine, but that's a pretty weaksauce critique, all things considered, and certainly not something genre-specific. But as to genre, we can have punk that skewers "the man"/"the system" and punk that also skewers perceived individual failings, and you can read both strains in an ungenerous fashion if you so choose to. This author chose to, and specifically by importing elements not found on the albums proper. Which made for an interesting read, as Jason notes, but requires buying into more premises than I'm willing to grant.
  5. mercury

    modern-day offspring fanatic Supporter

    tbh I'm a little mad that someone wrote this article before I had the chance to, because this is basically what my internal monologue is every time I listen to this band lol.

    anyways, this raises a ton of valid points -- i still feel my blood pressure rise a lil bit every time I think about how much songs like She's Got Issues/Want You Bad/etc definitely contributed to my internalized misogyny as a teenager, much less the dudes I know.

    I do think the article's take on the record as a whole as a statement of "treating socioeconomic failure as personal fault" is a little bit of a reach. Walla Walla is a weird song, and I do see that theme coming through in it. Otherwise... the title of the record is a play on the name of the country lol, which always signified pretty clearly to me that the point was "American society is messed up" and not "laugh at the lower class because it's their own fault."

    I also don't really see how The Kids Arent Alright shifts blame onto the kids? If anything, when I was young + heard that song, my takeaway was more along the lines of "hey, those burnout adults started as regular kids, and that means that there's something else at play here, more than just the individual." I don't see where the author drew their conclusion from on that one at all.
    Dan O'Neill likes this.
  6. midtown1870

    Newbie Supporter

  7. Dust Of Fallen Rome


    I mean... yeah. They wrote some great songs but its always been obvious enough that The Offspring aren't one of the more 'PC Punk" bands.
    Raku likes this.
  8. Dan O'Neill


    tytymcg likes this.
  9. maxracer


    just. say. no.
  10. Serenity Now

    deliver us from e-mail Supporter

    tytymcg and Dan O'Neill like this.
  11. VCargo08


    No shade at all, I really love this absurd fancy gentlemen thing you do with your posts. One of the first fun trips down someone's comment history I've had in a while. Cheers!
  12. domotime2

    It's an Albany Expression Prestigious

    Yeah maybe. Idk. I never really thought about it. Just a bunch of catchy punk songs to me
    Raku likes this.