Assignment 1 Blog 2 – Punk, Green Day and Identity

“Music, like identity, is both performance and story, describes the social in he individual and the individual in the social, the mind in the body and the body in the mind; identify, like music, is a matter of both ethics and aesthetics” (Frith, 1996).

Green Day’s front man, Billy Joel, has expressed his anger openly in the media several times about Donald Trump, before and after his election. At the MTV European Music Award, Green Day has dedicated the song “American Idiot” to Donald Trump, changing the lyrics from “The subliminal mind fuck America” to “The subliminal mind Trump America” (Britton, 2016). He also reassured his fans that Green Day’s shows are “safe” for everyone, and he quoted “Especially if you’re gay or trans, black, white, brown, or of any nationality. Period. Green Day is a safe place for you to be. I think it’s a problem that we have to face every day, and we have to do whatever we can to fix it.” (Daly, 2016)

Green Day’s statements influenced his fans to embrace their identities and to accept others’, however, it also sparked different debates on a significant amount of media platforms. On their official Facebook page, Billy Joel expressed that he totally supported Hilary, and the result of Trump being president was because “millions of people are sick and tired of the economic, political and media status quo”, that “too many Americans were sold out by their corporate bosses” (Bill Joel’s Instagram). According to Lang (2015:178), “punk rock possessed an impulse to construct an identity that would be an alternative to the institutionalised…, the identity would be associated with all the features gathered together under the sign of subculture”. And as Green Day stated their beliefs, especially against someone who wants to “make American white again”, that no matter who you identify with, music is where you can belong.

Some negative comments includes “Don’t get political, just play music”, as if according to them, the meaning of music has changed, that artists cannot express themselves when it is not in a song.Some other fans (who claimed to have bought several albums), faulted Billie Joel for having his own opinions on the band’s page, that it affected his likings for the bands because of the political status. Some even asked how much money do they get for saying this, that Billy Joel has changed his opinions about Trump voters from “sexist, racist and homophobic” to “corporate status quo” and that he needs to make a public apology”. Most of the comments have received a large numbers of replies, as other fans just want Green Day to be able to express freely, that people who hate their music because of their political views can stop listening to them instead to saying “uncool” things on their website.

According to Herrmann (2012: 168), ”punk is always personal, political, and communal”. Some fans showed their support and that they love the band in the comment section, claiming “more bands need to be political, I’d rather the music have a real message …”. Some claimed that what Green Day wants is for people to speak up, as he mentioned how Billie always said after their show that “Remember, we have the power, not them”. In conclusion, despite all the debates online, the fact that Billy Joel has openly expressed his views on current events, which might or might not help music listeners feel “safe”, has somewhat influenced his fans (and others) to accept who they are and that punk is not just a genre, it is also an identity (Hermann, 2012:168).


Britton, L.M. (2016) Watch Green Day dedicate ‘American Idiot’ to Donald Trump at MTV EMAs 2016

Available at: [Accessed 14th November 2016]

Daly, R. (2016) Billie Joe Armstrong: ‘We accept anyone who feels marginalised at any Green Day event’

Available at: [Accessed 14th November 2016]

Frith, S. (1996) Performing Rites: On the Value of Popular Music, Harvard University Press

Herrmann A.F. (2012), “Never Mind the Scholar, Here’s the Old Punk: Identity, Community, and the Aging Music Fan”, Norman K. Denzin, in (ed.) Studies in Symbolic Interaction (Studies in Symbolic Interaction, Volume 39), Emerald Group

Publishing Limited, pp. 153 – 170

Lang, D. (2015) One Chord Wonders: Power and Meaning in Punk Rock, PM Press,


One thought on “Assignment 1 Blog 2 – Punk, Green Day and Identity

  1. This is really succinct in it’s summing up of Green Day’s punk standpoint towards their music and the vehicle for being outspoken which it offers to them. Part of their charm is that they offer an antithesis to the cornfed American pop idols prevalent in pop culture and it is good to see that despite making millions of pounds some of the ethos that they would have started their careers with are still apparent.

    It’s also interesting, looking at your analysis of social media, fans who are just interested in the music and not the political message, and why if they are this way inclined they would be engaging in any debate with Billy Joel.

    The all female band Pussy Riot have similar political persuasions, using music and the status it has allowed them to push for justice, equality and questioning the status Quo.

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