How many punk rockers does it take to change a light bulb? None, because punk rockers don't change anything. Thirty years on from The Sex Pistols, The Damned, and The Ramones, punk bands are still making the same bad noises, protesting against the same failures of society, and wearing the same clothes and hairstyles.
Punks never were good musicians. And that's partly the point. "It didn't matter if anybody had any talent or could do anything," says Bruce Loose from Flipper. "It was whether they had the balls or the guts to get up and do it." This is DIY music for the underdog, music that anyone could get up and play in their local basement club (and anyone often did get up and play). Punk was a reaction against prog-rock, arena gigs, seven-minute guitar solos, vocal harmonies, and light shows. Punk was music with a message, a raw message screamed in your face with all the subtlety of a toddler's tantrum. Punk was "hippies with teeth". But hippies didn't change the world with their message of peace and free love; and neither did punks. "Things that we sing about could be construed as cliché, as far as punk rock is concerned," admits Kevin De Franco, lead singer of The God Awfuls. "But it's not us that is cliché. It's the fucking world. Nothing ever changes."
But as Punk's Not Dead so clearly shows, punk itself has changed. Green Day, The Offspring, Good Charlotte, and Sum 41 have brought their brand of pop-punk to the mainstream – "brand" being the operative word. The Warped Tour is backed by big corporations. Kids can buy their entire punk outfit from Hot Topic stores at the mall. The whole look of punk has been commercialized as advertisers realize there is a self-made demographic to exploit for profit. This selling out has made the older generation of punks quite snobbish and protective of their punk status, claiming that the new generation of commercially successful bands aren't punk because they sell too many records, play to large audiences, and exploit the capitalist mass media to get their music out there. Punk is now more of a fashion statement than an ideology. But as Tim Armstrong from Rancid says, "Who am I to say you're not [a punk rocker]?"