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Cartoon Punk

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Cartoon Punk

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Cartoon punk is a derogatory term for a variety of English-style punk that embodied the most exaggerated version of the most stereotypical elements of the English punk subculture.


Cartoon punk has its origins in the cultural experiments of Malcolm McLaren, but did not come into full being until the next generation of punks developed the UK82 scene. The cartoon punk had a uniform of exaggerated punk fashion, with brightly-dyed mohawks, charged hair, liberty spikes, painted leather jackets covered with spikes and studs, zips, chains, plaid bondage trousers, mohair sweaters, Dr. Martens boots and the like.

The term cartoon punk was largely used as an insult by people who felt that they transcended the perceived limitations of the punk subculture. The insult originated in America, where people in the punk scene would call kids who became enamored with and emulated the English punk style cartoon punk, fashion punk and glam punk. Those who were labeled cartoon punks will often times not know much about the punk genre and will often be labeled ignorant as well. Those labeled cartoon punk would often be seen as intimidating for their "punker than thou" appearance.

A number of punk variants that are pegged with the cartoon punk label are; UK82, streetpunk, Oi!, cider punk and punk pathetique.

It can be easily argued that punk was always cartoonish, starting with the Ramones whose visual style and sound was highly regimented and tongue-in-cheek. The Ramones were also portrayed as cartoons by punk cartoonist John Holmstrom to add to the whole cartoon motif. This cartoonishness continued with the Sex Pistols and every band that followed.

The uniform nature of punk made for a quite profitable punk boutique economy as found on Kings Road, which was often seen as being at odds with the anti-materialistic nature of the subculture. This was the case from the beginning however, as Malcolm McLaren was first and foremost a boutique owner. However, any sort of establishment would be at odds with punk ideology, including music venues, magazines, record labels and the like.

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This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.