The punk rock movement let musicians rage against the artistic machine.
The songs were short, surly and yet melodic. The lyrics delivered in-your-face rebukes to conformity, a tone which caught fire with both the young and young at heart. Their music established a bulwark behind which the counter culture bloomed.
The era burned out quickly, but it left us with legendary acts like The Clash, The Ramones, the Sex Pistols and more. Their counter-culture cries shook the artistic world, and it’s well past time for something similar to rise up in our calcified woke age.
Is it heading our way soon?
The Spectator recently argued in the affirmative. The outlet suggested the wave “will drown Hollywoke like the Red Sea did the Egyptian army in that old two-part tome they never read, and in a manner even Ridley Scott couldn’t direct.”
The conventional entertainers – think late night TV, woke streaming platforms and relics like “Saturday Night Live” – lack anything resembling that punk aesthetic. They’d rather wag a finger in your face than screech against The Man.
Heck, they have The Man’s back.
That leaves a massive hole for renegade artists to march right through. It isn’t as easy as plugging in your amp and playing a dive bar, though. Today’s punk artists must dodge Big Tech censors, Cancel Culture scolds and, too often, fellow artists eager to snag a scalp in the woke wars.
Yet, as it stands right now, many are doing just that. The counter culture revolution is well underway. Look no further than the new king of late night comedy, Fox News’ “Gutfeld!”
Now, neither Fox News nor host Greg Gutfeld can be considered “indie” by any definition. Fox News is a mega corporation, one often at odds with its own customer base.
What Gutfeld offers, though, is a free-thinking approach to the late night arena. He might as well be Johnny Rotten snarling at the status quo five nights a week.
He’s far from alone in defying pop culture groupthink.
Rapper Tom MacDonald’s songs are like Gutfeld monologues sprung to life. He rants against the woke police, the death of nuance and how we’re “brainwashed” by the media. He’s angry but thoughtful, a rapper eager for Americans to stop fighting each other and turn on the forces dividing us.
He doesn’t have a mainstream music label. The corporate press all but ignores his iTunes victories, and they’re growing. Rolling Stone won’t give its coveted cover to his rebellious smile, even if one of the Boston Marathon bombers once snagged that honor.
His music videos rack up a million-plus views in roughly a day of late, and the songs typically bum rush the iTunes music charts.
WE HAVE 17 SONGS IN THE iTunes HIP-HOP TOP 200 🤯🤯🤯 pic.twitter.com/SGQ6GmCARq
— Tom MacDonald (@IAMTOMMACDONALD) June 10, 2021
He doesn’t need the media. The fans have his back. Ask any artist willing to defy conventional norms — build a fan base or proceed at your own peril.
It’s precisely what The Babylon Bee has done in a relatively short period. The Christian satire site is telling all the jokes Stephen Colbert won’t from his late night TV perch. Think right-leaning, God tweaking “news” that appeals to audiences with open minds.
Still, it persists and even thrives.
Consider the following faux news article: “Report: Biden Wasn’t Checking Watch, Just Making Sure There Was No Blood Left On His Hands”
Report: Biden Wasn’t Checking Watch, Just Making Sure There Was No Blood Left On His Hands https://t.co/2iYrDORxgT
— The Babylon Bee (@TheBabylonBee) August 31, 2021
In just one day that story earned more than 17,000 Facebook shares along with 16,000 retweets. That’s social media power. And, of course, another sign that Americans are starved for jokes that hit the other side of the aisle.
Can The Onion, a far-left humor site which routinely ignores news that hurts Democrats, even compete?
The counter-culture revolution isn’t always a tidy, Left v. Right debate.
Comedian Ryan Long is aggressively apolitical, pledging allegiance to the funny first and foremost. He’s still a rising star in the comedy space, racking up sizable view counts on YouTube with his jaw-dropping sketches.
Imagine seeing this on “SNL” – assuming you have a robust imagination.
Even the name of Long’s podcast, “The Boyscast,” is triggering to select Americans. The content is doubly so.
He’s still got a rabid following, a movie in the works and no plans to stop holding the woke’s feet to the fire. Long can thank YouTube for much of his success. The same is true for country crooner Buddy Brown.
The unapologetically conservative singer tried to be a star the conventional way. He visited Nashville, guitar in hand, hoping to snag a record contract. The powers that be didn’t want his right-leaning lyrics on their albums, so he went rogue.
Brown cranked up his YouTube channel, avoided touring while directly interacting with fans, and became a small “s” superstar. His channel boasts a half million subscribers, and satirical tracks like “We Gotta Be Less White” go viral in a hurry.
New media platforms like YouTube and podcasting allow artists to buck the system on their own terms. It’s why Tim Dillon is a comedy giant, even though you won’t see him grace any late night show couch. Dillon’s podcast banter is like Howard Stern 1.0, a savagely honest voice unafraid of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.
And why not? He’s a comedian, not a head of state.
Heck, the fact that Compound Media exists today is more proof free speech junkies are waiting to be entertained. The subscription-based channel, which launched in 2016, offers a lineup of comics who refuse to toe the woke line.
They’ve even branched out to a live tour, courtesy of the “Comedians of the Compound” show.
Comedians of the Compound in Cuyahoga, OH
August 19th-21st ‼️
— Compound Media (@CompoundAmerica) August 17, 2021
Podcasting offers other counter-culture voices, from the current king of the heap (Joe Rogan) to disaffected liberals ready to speak truth to power (“Breaking Points”). Adam Carolla helped pave the way for these voices on two sizable fronts.
He quickly segued from terrestrial radio to podcasting in 2009, giving the budding medium instant gravitas. Plus, he forged a fiercely independent voice from Day 1, modeling for others that it was safe to speak out against false narratives.
His recent broadside against the mainstream press is a prime example.
What do those in this counter-culture wave have in common? Raw talent.
Who argues that Carolla isn’t one of the most engaging comics of our time? Long’s videos would be the breakout hit of any late night show or “SNL” episode — if they had the courage to air them.
MacDonald isn’t just a plucky lyricist but a songwriter with a knack for hooks that defy genres. Rogan can interview a guest for three hours – three hours! – and keep his audience engaged.
Still to come in the counter culture revolution?
- The Daily Wire’s expanding slate of original content
- SalemNow, a budding streaming platform aimed at right-of-center audiences, is expanding its content lineup
- Angel Studios is just warming up with fresh fare
Massive road blocks remain in the revolution’s way.
Conservative stars like Nick Searcy still struggle to raise funds for select film projects, suggesting wealthy GOP types remain wary of pop culture risks. Actor-producer Kevin Sorbo says the purse strings remain relatively tight for indie films that defy cultural groupthink, with roughly a 10 percent boost of late.
The upcoming Loor TV, dedicated to faith-friendly fare that doesn’t make audiences cringe, seeks more funding to start its novel approach to the streaming wars.
For every crowdfunding success story – think indie artists like Ethan Van Sciver and Chuck Dixon – others struggle to meet their goals. The crowdfunding campaign for “My Son Hunter,” a project with a veteran director attached and a can’t miss subject, stands at 65 percent of its crowdfunding goal since its March debut.
That’s despite the team behind the film’s successful resume, including the indie hit “Gosnell” and the play and telefilm “FBI Lovebirds: Undercovers.”
The media and Big Tech, already wary of the counter-culture revolution, could throw more obstacles in its way.
- Some of Long’s videos have been blocked by TikTok and Instagram … could Twitter and YouTube soon follow suit, and block other comics along the way?
- Podcast giants may start censoring content that doesn’t align with government-approved talking points.
- Leftists could shift from ignoring the aforementioned content to actively seeking its removal.
Anyone doubting these scenarios hasn’t been awake over the past 12 months.
Even if some of the above happens it might be too late. Once a revolution gets moving, it can be hard, if not impossible, to stop.
I’ve been beat up, I’ve been thrown out
But I’m not down, no I’m not down
I’ve been shown up, but I’ve grown up
And I’m not down, no I’m not down