VIDEO FEED: What's Up America 'Punk' (1981)

posted Wednesday Mar 25th, 2015

Ah, is there anything more refreshing than the mainstream evaluation of "Punk" culture as it quickly spread across the American landscape in the early 1980s? This is the fledgling Showtime network's coverage of the new musical phenomenon, circa 1981 on their news show What's Up America, and features classic video footage of The Dickies, The Cheifs, Suburban Lawns, Phranc, and The Angry Samoans in 1979. Also Rodney Bingenheimer nodding in approval as a teenage girl dances uncontrollably to "I Wanna Be Sedated," while the Angry Samoans list Rodney (along with Phil Spector and Kim Fowley) as people they'd "Like to kill" in the next segment, served over two parts and delivered by the typical style of repulsed/confused TV host of the era. Add some commentary by VOM's Richard Meltzer, and you've got a prime slice of vintage punk slop fed through a cable TV filter, what could be better than that?

"If your father and mother are smoking dope and listening to The Eagles, then suddenly smoking dope and listening to The Eagles isn't going to be an attractive form of rebellion to a teen-ager." Clothing from thrift stores, as well? Oh, the humanity! As the show quickly changes focus to the more palatable acts of the tamer New Wave and ska persuasion, hold tight as the live clips of prime-era Dickies and Suburban Lawns are not to be missed. Both episodes are streaming below here, so go ahead and blow this up to full-screen mode and revel in the inane mainstream grasp at punk in all it's cable TV glory.