‘This ain’t no love-in, this ain’t no happenin’: Misfits, Detroit hardcore and the performance of zombie scenarios
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© 2014 Taylor & Francis. This article explores the (ever changing) manifestation of the living dead as iconographic metaphor and performance scenario in Detroit’s hardcore punk scene in the early 1980s. Focusing in particular on B-movie references by the Misfits, it will discuss how a shared transamerican vocabulary and image bank was used to respond to a national, cultural and economic landscape that played itself out in diverse ways on local and tribal levels. Here, low-budget atomic age zombie flicks of the 1950s and 1960s were made, as Dick Hebdige suggests they should, ‘to mean and mean again’ as a process of subcultural style. They hysterically re-performed the ‘real’ post-apocalyptic world of unemployment, fuel shortages, nuclear threat, curfews and pollution that was being portrayed contemporaneously in George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978). Although it is commonly argued that zombies, like all monsters, are manifestations of ‘collective nightmares’, for hardcore punks hanging out in Detroit in the early 1980s the performance of zombie scenarios can be better understood as the theatricalization of lived experience and an attempt to work through the fluid relationships between roles and participants.
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