I don’t know how I overlooked The Chronicle’s feature this week on research into Straight Edge punk rock. In case you were curious, the movement’s title was derived from a 1981 song, which provided:
… a name and a mission statement to a subculture that, more than two decades later, remains very much alive. The message of the song and the movement is vehemently anti-drug and anti-alcohol, a reaction to the excesses of early punk rock, a rebellion against rebellion. Minor Threat managed to sound like the Sex Pistols and Nancy Reagan at the same time — a remarkable, if very strange, achievement.
But there are complexities. Some Straight Edgers swear off caffeine, others casual sex, and their relation to violence seems at times nuanced. Sounds impossible to figure out on your own, right? Don’t despair, two books by academic sociologists (one an avowed Straight-Edger!) will soon illuminate the subject: Straightedge Youth: Complexity and Contradictions of a Subculture, (Syracuse University Press) and Straight Edge: Hardcore Punk, Clean-Living Youth, and Social Change (Rutgers University Press).
In the latter book you might learn such things from the author as:
Straight Edgers do regularly get hurt while moshing, but the bloody noses and busted lips are, he says, like badges of honor.
Well, it’s good to hear that sociologists are keeping busy, but even better to know that they’re likely not sniffing glue.