Punk Rock and Disability: Cripping Subculture

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

9 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This essay is focused on (post)subculture and disability, and specifically on the popular musical subculture of punk rock. It considers the extent to which punk rock in the 1970s and after opened up a space in music for disabled performers and audience members. There are two main areas of discussion. First, questions of subculture and counterculture are explored, in terms of both cultural studies theory and of disability. Second is a focus on the original British punk scene of the late 1970s and three major artists, varyingly disabled, from it. These are Ian Dury, Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols, and Ian Curtis of Joy Division.

It aim to extend our understanding both of punk itself and of subcultural theory, adding to ideas around post-subculture by cripping it (see McRuer 2006), that is, by identifying the sounds and styles and bodies of the disabled, who are the neglected already-present of punk, and whose presence disrupts subculture theory, even while such theory exists in large part to understand the disruptive potential of gesture, music, youth, fashion, attitude, and modes of walking and talking. Here I concur with, and seek to develop, the observation by David Church that “disability has been one of the most foundational—and yet, one of the least explored—representational tropes of the punk milieu” (2013, 28). The essay contains two main areas: an initial discussion of subculture and counterculture, in terms of theory and of disability; and a focus on the original British punk scene of the late 1970s and three major artists, varyingly disabled, from it. It concludes with a view of punk’s “cultural legacy” (Sabin 1999) in the disability arts movement.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Handbook of Music and Disability Studies
EditorsBlake Howe, Stephanie Jensen-Moulton, Neil Lerner, Joseph N. Straus
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
Pages226-245
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9780199331444
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2015

Publication series

NameOxford Handbooks
PublisherOxford University Press

Keywords

  • disability
  • punk rock
  • Ian Dury
  • Johnny Rotten
  • Ian Curtis
  • polio
  • epilepsy

Cite this