I fell into the late 80′s punk scene for three main reasons — the sense of dislocation caused by my mom’s death in the November of 1988, Repo Man, and my growing disgust with the po’ faced onanism of the speed metal crowd. The appeal lay in the fact that it allowed geeky misfits to renegotiate their outsider status on their own (ritualized and often absurd) terms. “Yeah, I know I don’t fit in, so fuck you.”
Which would explain why Riverdale High’s prince of underachievers would embrace the liberating nihilism of the punk scene…
It happened in the pages of Jughead #327 (February 1983), which opens with the terminally prep Archie Andrews haranguing a disinterested (but hot) Betty Cooper about the plague of punk rockers that has descended on their beautiful surburban (and overwhelmingly white) community. The filth and fury outbreak strikes home when Archie discovers that his best pal Jughead Jones has joined the throngs of middle-class teen anarchists, swapping his trademark felt crown for a mohawk and the new persona of “Captain Thrash.”
Refusing to accept this affront to the established status quo, Archie attempts to enlist Betty’s assistance in rescuing Jughead from the horrible world of cute chicks with pink hair and leopard print stretch pants. When Betty refuses, Archie turns to the raven-haired Veronica for support (for more than just punk deprogramming, if you catch my drift).
The pair’s impromptu intervention fails to bring Jughead back from the subcultural wilderness (again: cute chicks with pink hair and leopard print stretch pants), so Archie is forced to pursue his wayward pal into the belly of the punk rock beast: Club Chaos, Riverdale’s all-ages answer to CBGB’s…
Club Chaos is a swirling maelstrom of caricatured adolescent angst and vaguely punk archetypes, similar to every late 80′s hardcore show I ever attended. The club’s ways are not Archie’s ways, however. When the clean-cut everyteen breaches proper mosh pit protocol, Jughead is forced to eject him from the venue before a pair of skinheads acquaint the terminal preppie with the concept of a “curb job.”
Smarting from their failures, Archie and Veronica discover that the worst is yet to come. Not only has Jughead succumbed to the punk epidemic, but he plans to spread the contagion to the wholesome Betty Cooper!
Imagine the horror! Betty in black lipstick, a plaid skirt, and torn fishnets! Her long blue bangs flopping to and fro as she pogos to “I Wanna Be Sedated” while the chains on her leather jacket jangle with each jump! Yes, let’s…imagine that for a while…yeah….
…or it could just be part of the most crushing fakeout in a story filled with crushing fakeouts.
FINAL SCORE: Status quo: 1, Andrew’s long-held fantasies: 0.
Recommended listening: Decadence – Slam (from This Is Boston, Not L.A., 1982)
Jughead’s experiences as an undercover punk convinced him that punk rockers are good kids that just need to see the brighter side of life. I am convinced Jughead needs to lay off the Ian MacKaye records. Give me that old time Boston aggro any day.