The Culture Clash by: Brian Talipan

The second we are born into this world we earn ourselves a spot in some type of community. Often times as young children we are very impressionable to what surrounds us. However, it is up to the individual to decide how the surrounding world impacts their life and this is something that always fascinated me. People can either take in their surroundings with love and care or one can go against what they are surrounded by. How a person reacts to their surroundings impacts so much of their future it is honestly incomprehensible. This is what also leads to a division of community which in turn leads to differing cultures being formed for people of all shapes and sizes. One very excepting and dominating culture that thrives through all its explicit controversy is that of the arts (Donnelly, 1984, Spiro, 1986).

Straight Edge

Art is emotional, everlasting, and powerful. What people have done with art is simply amazing. The division of cultures is shown in all types of art but two forms of art that I will focus on are street art and punk music. These are often called counter-cultures, and they are cultures in which go against another culture (Dirke, 1997, Pojman and Vaughn, 2004).

As shown by these two photos the art is made to express a feeling about a specific topic. The counter cultures are usually, but not always, are sticking up for what is right. Especially shown in punk music the lyrics are often based on something political because in one way or another the government seems to be screwing us all.


Cultural relativism can lead to people not being accepted with the community they live in. This often leads to arguments or judgement of the people who do not agree with what is right or wrong with the community they are a part of. When someone does not agree with what the rest of the community believes there is often a division within the community. The people on both sides of the spectrum being the ones who are strong members of the community and those who disagree with the norm and are not participating in the community (Pojman and Vaughn, 2004). The ones who disagree with the status quo of the community often express their feelings by word of mouth or by creating multiple forms of art that demonstrate how they feel about the community. The art that has been made is vast and is prominent in music and visual arts. The biggest type of music that came from the division of community is known as “punk” and it often is about the government or just expressing your anger through music. Besides music there is amazing visual arts that came about due to the rebels of society. Some of these important artists include Jean-Michel Basquiat (SAMO), Banksy, Judy Chicago, and plenty more. These people that are going against the norm are often the minority of the population. These are what forms the COUNTER CULTURES. Some, but not all, choose to go unnoticed such as the people today that still tag “SAMO” on their spray paint displayed around New York City, and the notorious “Banksy” who is wanted all over the world for vandalism because of the controversial art Banksy makes on private properties. Feminism is also a good example of the minority unit that is strong in this day and age. This wave of feminism is everywhere in pop culture and I literally can’t go a day without hearing about it, and me being the kind of person I just keep my thoughts to myself because no matter what I say someone will attack it with their views on the subject. It is exactly those actions that create the divisions in a community, and that is beauty behind it all. If no one stuck up for what they believe then no one would care about anything and life would just be boring. There must be division and disagreement to add a little spice to our lives because if there was not then no one would have anything to stand up for. Bottom line is cultures have to be formed.


SAMO was an artist that came out of NYC. He was known only by the name SAMO and was anonymous for quite some time during his early days as a street artist in NYC. What he is best known for is making quotes that are rather relatable to a niche of distraught people. SAMO sticks out to me and many others because he lived in NYC which is a fast city with lots going on literally 24/7 and it may seem like such a good place to live. In reality there are lots of bad things going on in NYC and this is what SAMO really based his art on in my opinion. The reason I think he is a good example of cultural relativism is because even though he was apart of the NYC culture his art was looked down upon as vandalism. The irony about his art being considered vandalism is that the reason people may have felt so upset and left behind is because of all the actions done by the ones in power such as the government. Also, back in the 70's and 80's when SAMO was expressing himself on the streets, NYC was an awful place to be unless you were extremely wealthy. The was homeless people everywhere and drugs were everywhere. So it was SAMO that really captured this depressed feeling of the city in his art.


Growing up I always loved these two quotes because it shows that not everything can be as it seems. For instance, people love flowers but what can come of something so beautiful will make you hate it. Something as subtle as a flower can make millions of people die and leave even more crippled. Also, something like the drop of something as subtle as a pin can change so much about your life. In this day and age our lives change on a dime with all the new technology, education, and even the new cultures that are rising up and being noticed.

As some may the present day SAMO is none other than Banksy.

Banksy, like SAMO, is a street artist and he is known throughout the world and his art is also all throughout the world. Banksy is anonymous and for Banksy sake that is great due to the fact this enigmal figure is wanted in many countries for his abrasive art.


Banksy is anonymous so I personally find it very hard to elaborate on exactly what this persons intentions are. So here are a few more photos that leave powerful messages and can be up for interpretations. But again, this is the beauty of art and the fact that it comes in all different shapes and sizes. Also depending on the culture you live it may be able to influence how you appreciate the art and how you interpret.


The counter culture that I can completely relate to, and am apart of, is Punk music and more specifically Hardcore Punk.

Turning Point

Ever since I was around the age of 12 I started to listening to old school 80's hardcore punk bands. In a sense since I was so young these bands such as Youth of Today, Gorilla Biscuits, Inside Out, and Minor Threat had major impact on my life and I positioned myself in this culture during my teen years. All of these bands except for Inside Out are straight edge bands. Straight edge is a term, and a lifestyle, that came about in the early 1980's. What it means to be straight edge is that one does not drink, smoke, or do drugs.

Youth of Today

Straight edge is really a counter culture because during high school and college most of the kids think its fun to hang out and drink and smoke on the weekends. Being straight edge I was literally the only one in my friend group that did not drink or smoke but this didn't bother me at all. The reason it did not bother me is because it meant that I was standing for something I believe in and even though there was plenty of temptation not once did I ever succumb to the peer pressure.

After I finally met some other people that were into hardcore punk and were also straight edge we talked about what it meant to us and then we started a band. Before doing this project I brought it up again at band practice about what it means to all of us to be straight edge. We came to the final conclusion that even though all our reasons are different the underlying message is that we like that we are being true to ourselves. Being true to ourselves means that we never have to worry about being in a altered state of mind that is not our own and that were always in control of who we are.


As I previously mentioned earlier Youth of Today, Gorilla Biscuits, Inside Out, and Minor Threat are some bands I grew up listening to. I want to break down what each of these bands mean to me and how they each impacted my life.

Minor Threat

Youth of Today is one of the most popular hardcore bands from the 80's. The lyrics this band put out were all about being positive and being equal to one another. They are also a straight edge band and the lead singers lyrics are about being positive, equal, and straight edge are very powerful and moving. The lyrics and the passion that went into them just make you want to make a change in your life. Youth of Today really gave me a sense of fitting in and also standing up for equality amongst the population. I never stood for racism and I never will and neither will any of my friends. Make a change!

Youth of Today

Another band that played a HUGE impact on my childhood was Gorilla Biscuits. This band was and still is very energetic and seeing them live is quite the experience. The singer for this bands lyrics are all about going out and having as much fun as possible while at the same time not caring at all what people think about you. There are plenty of lyrics about how it must be boring to be lazy and how it is so much better to just go out and have fun. When I was young I was never one to sit around the house and do nothing unless I was reading a book but after discovering band I literally was always down to do anything as long as it meant I was not at home doing nothing. This still stands true to this day and probably will for many years to come. Go out and make friends and memories to carry you a life time. 

Gorilla Biscuits

Inside Out is a hardcore band that had front man Zack de la Rocha and he is very political and gives great speeches about the how the government controls our lives in a sense. Zach gave speeches before their sets started and also in between songs and let me tell you these speeches were powerful and so were his lyrics. Whenever my band covers one of their songs the crowd goes insane because this band truly means a lot to the people that listen to hardcore. What I learned from Inside Out is that I should never take no for an answer and that if you should speak out instead of being just another face in the crowd.

Inside Out

Finally, a band that made an everlasting impact on my life is Minor Threat. This is one of the first bands to really kick start the straight edge lifestyle. Ill never forgot the day I heard the song called "Straight Edge" and ever since then I also stayed true to myself and committed to being straight edge. Ultimately this band had a big influence not only on me but thousands of people around the world. Stay true to you.

Minor Threat

The take home message from this project was to show how being part of a counter culture can really influence your daily life. Whether it is the quotes from SAMO or the controversial art made by Banksy or the punks and their music. All of this stuff was made to stick up for something and go against what is in the norm of common culture. Honestly I am the black sheep in my family due to the way I go about my life. This leads to a lot of them not respecting me or socializing with but honestly it does not phase me one bit because as long as I can stick up for what I believe in I will be one happy camper. I am proud to be straight. I am proud to be a punk. What these two things allows me to do is lead a life of true aspiration and culmination. All of these arts are associated with "underground arts" meaning that they are not in the popular realm of things. I intentionally wrote this paper in a way that I would speak it to someone during a conversation. What I mean by this is did not explain everything thoroughly because if I did so the art of the conversation would be lost. I was always one to speak in a poetic manner and this is shown in my lyrics, poems, and short stories I write. Although this is not written in a poetic manner I still tried to write it in a way that it is more of a conversation than a presentation. To me what this allows is for the reader to actually try and engage in what they are reading rather than having it all just spoon fed to them.


The most important thing that comes out of all this is we all get to have so much fun!

Donnelly, J. (1984). Cultural relativism and universal human rights. Human Rights Quarterly, 6(4), 400-419.

Pojman, L. P., & Vaughn, L. (2004). The Moral Life (p. 985). New York: Oxford University Press.

Spiro, M. E. (1986). Cultural relativism and the future of anthropology. Cultural Anthropology, 1(3), 259-286.

Von Dirke, S. (1997). All Power to the Imagination!: The West German Counterculture from the Student Movement to the Greens. U of Nebraska Press.

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