Broken-down Poetry: Title Track: sXe


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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Title Track: sXe

I used to think I was hardcore. If you know me at all – and even if you don’t – you can probably find the irony in that statement. I am not even close to being hardcore. I don’t dress hardcore (note the cardigan in my mug shot), I don’t listen to hardcore music and I don’t act hardcore. I’m quiet and conservative – nothing about me is hardcore.

But in high school, I thought I was hardcore. It started freshman year. My friend Katie, who was legitimately hardcore, always went to shows to see her friend Cam play in a band called Chinese Express. As a sheltered 14 year old, this blew me away. I didn’t know teenagers formed garage bands anymore. It seemed so 1980s. I kept thinking about that episode of Doug when he starts a band with Skeeter. Who knew kids actually did that kind of stuff?

I decided that I was going to love this band too. I adored Katie and her hardcore clothing and scene hairstyle and musical knowledge, so I played copycat. Katie burned me Chinese Express’s CD and I pretended to enjoy all the screaming. (Though, I did listen to a lot of semi-hardcore music at the time – lots of Emery – I didn’t really care for all the screaming.)

I would talk about all the local bands as if I knew anything about them: “Oh, the lead singer of SaidHe is awesome, but their music is too raucous for my taste.” Or, “Japan with an E is the worst band ever. I’d rather gouge my eardrums out.”

My junior year of high school I dated a boy in a hardcore band. Luke was the guitarist for Hanacoda, a band that broke up because its members couldn’t decide if they wanted to play for God or for rock-and-roll.

The first hardcore show I attended was at this sketchy local in downtown Fort Wayne. My favorite hardcore poet, Bradley Hathaway, was reciting some of his work and I was dying to see him. My best friend Ashley and I went together. I told Ashley, who looked even less hardcore than me, that we can’t go to this show looking like we usually do. Ashley and I typically wore bright colored polo shirts and neon headbands in our hair. I told her that we needed to look cool and tuff.

So Ashley and I wore matching shirts. We looked infinitely less-cool than we would have in polos.

At the show, Bradley recited one of his most well-known poems called, “The Annoying Hardcore Dude Who Goes to Far,” about, well, an annoying hardcore dude who goes to far. In the poem, he rattles off all the things hardcore kids stand for – animal rights, manliness, not being emo – then exposes their contradictions.

The poem says, “Somebody told me hardcore was a place to share what you believe, but I didn’t like what dude said, so I flipped him off and told him to leave.

“I’m mad at society because my parents won’t buy me a new computer, even though I asked politely. My Playstation 2 is broken, but my Xbox works. When that breaks though, something will hit the fan and I’ll express myself with rage and anger, just like a man. ‘Cause that’s how it’s done, right? You get mad and start a fight, right?”

Bradley argues that these kids are quick to stand up for trendy issues, but not for things that matter – like combating materialism or hatred.

Some hardcore kids call themselves “straight edge” (sXe), which means they are hardcore kids that are socially softcore. This is the category my friends and I fell into. We didn’t drink, we didn’t do drugs and we didn’t have sex.

I think what Bradley was hinting at in his poem is that lots of sXe kids stand up for things, but not always the right things or the best things. There’s a lack of consistency.

And I don’t think this problem is unique to the so-called hardcore or sXe kids.

I think it’s interesting how quick we Christians are to rally against something like gay marriage because homosexuality is forbidden in the Bible, but get drunk on weekends, even when there are more verses forbidding drunkenness. We boycott abortion clinics but cheer on the executions of our enemies.

When I was in high school, I really wasn’t hardcore, I was just ascribing to a culture I thought was cool. I wanted to be trendy; I wanted people to admire me.

Christianity isn’t something we can put on like that. We don’t get to pick and choose who we’re going to love or what truths we want to stand behind. If we believe in a faith that transforms us, that makes us new creations, we have to become more consistent in what we stand for.

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