Tag Archives: T Shirt

A Veteran’s guide to dealing with the Cultural Appropriation of The Ramones

* My very first Ramones T Shirt from the Too Tough To Die 10th Aniversary Tour
I feel the need to address the reactions that some hardcore Ramones fans have when seeing how the band has achieved cultural acceptance
It is easy to feel like your culture has been yanked out of your hands and sold on E-Bay but read on and I will tell you that “It’s Gonna Be Alright”

There is a certain attachment that we ascribe to the things that help us deal with everyday life
We can all agree that music is the most accessible way to deal with your feelings and to express your own identity
There has never been a more perfect band to provide that kind of strength as The Ramones
Their minimalist approach to their songs also applied to the lyrics, which can range anywhere from hard and cold reality to completely psychotic ramblings and fantasies
This allows pretty much anyone, no matter what kind of culture produced them, can identify with The Ramones because everything was boiled down to the most succinct possible statements about life
I latched on to the Ramones as a teenage middle class suburban kid whose only problems were feelings of alienation and how to get a girl to like me
Meanwhile, a kid in a different situation ascribes their own set of circumstances
Instead of worrying about silly suburban things, maybe this kid has to deal with harsh economic realities or suppression of individuality
Where I saw The Ramones as my imaginary intellectual punk friends with a dark sense of humor and irony, the other kid sees The Ramones as their imaginary street gang brothers who come from nothing, become famous but refuse to forget their roots
So, you could see how some people see The Ramones on a more personal level than others

I can only relate what it was like to be a Ramones fan in Dallas Texas during the mid 80’s
I was a drummer in thrash bands back then and most of my friends looked down on The Ramones
I can remember one particular quote that was lobbed at me across the lunch table at school “Take 4 retards, give them instruments, give them some some jeans that you got out of the trash can and you’ve got The Ramones”
Most older fans experienced the same treatment because The Ramones didn’t have their cultural impact yet and people never took the time to really understand the subtle intelligence that was at work in the Ramones presentation
You wore your T Shirt like gang colors and there was even a chance that your colors could get you beaten up (back in the Punk v.s. Metal days, my Ramones shirt cancelled out my long hair and I went to many punk shows with no issues whatsoever)
But there was also a chance that you would see someone else in the cultural desert wearing a Ramones shirt
Even if you never got to know that person, you received validation for all of the shit you took for liking The Ramones because you knew that person was getting the same amount of shit
Being that you either had to buy your shirt at a show or that you had to go to one of those “scary” record shops to buy a T Shirt, there were very few “posers” back then

Fast forward to modern times and we see how deeply The Ramones have embedded themselves in our culture
One of the things that bothers some of The Faithful is seeing the band concept get co-opted
It was hard enough to see “Blitzkreig Bop” used in a beer commercial but now we see young people with absolutely no context of what The Ramones mean and they are appropriating it for their own culture
It is appalling for many of the Old Schoolers to see some Barbie Doll pop singer or model wearing an original Ramones T Shirt that their wardrobe department bought for $200
I know this because I have been struggling with those resentments myself
But I have to tell all of you grizzled and resentment filled veterans something very important

We carried The Ramones on OUR backs and made them what they are today
We did not want approval or acceptance, all we wanted from them was acknowledgement, which translates into respect
We earned the respect of our culture by sheer willpower and perseverance
It is now our responsibility to show benevolence and to add depth to the new perception of The Ramones legacy
Which translates into “Don’t be a snob”
Next time, instead of grilling that person to make sure they deserve to wear our “gang colors”, how about engaging them in a conversation about what The Ramones mean to them?
True, you are going to run into a lot of people who just see the shirt as a fashion accessory but you will also find a kid who only knows about The Ramones from what they see on the internet
It is your responsibility to forgo the frustration of seeing people treat your culture as “Just a T Shirt” and to give emotional depth to those who identify with The Ramones for the same reasons that you did
It doesn’t matter if it is 1984 or 2016, that kid has the same basic reasons
for identifying with The Ramones message as you did
Do you want their experience with you to be a negative memory that they try to forget?
Do you want their experience to be the same as the positive experiences you had when someone identified with you over the Ramones back in the old days?

Repeat after me:
Gabba Gabba
We Accept You
We Accept You
One of US!

The RAMONE is a One Man Tribute Band that sees The Ramones as a cultural phenomenon and not just an influential rock n Roll band
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