The Kids are Alt-Right: Hardcore Punk, Subcultural Violence and Contemporary American Politics in Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room

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Emerging from his own autobiographical experiences as part of the Washington DC punk and hardcore scenes in the late 1980s, Jeremy Saulnier’s ‘siege-thriller’ Green Room is a film that considers the militancy and organised violence of white power fascism, albeit within the relatively contained space of the film’s title. It is in this respect that the current chapter seeks to address ideological conflicts within punk and hard-core music subcultures and the degree to which Saulnier’s ideas of ‘soldiers pitted against civilians’ plays out within a genre film predicated on cold, calculated, systematic violence.

This chapter aims to position Green Room as an allegory for racial tensions and fascist extremism in contemporary America, touching upon recent trends in the horror genre. The presence of white nationalist spokespeople such as Christopher Cantwell (“Unite the Right”) and Richard Spencer (president of the white supremacist think tank The National Policy Institute) in recent media culture points to a significant social moment of ultra-conservatism. Although the existence of extremism within the US punk and hardcore scene is nothing new (as identified by Forbes and Stampton [2015] and Dyck [2016]), it is through the emergence of the ill-defined terminology and fascist ideologies of the so-called ‘alt-right’ since 2010 that the figure of the racist skinhead as a feared cultural object has been solidified.

The ‘mainstreaming’ of these ideologies, concomitant with figures such as Steve Bannon under the current Trump administration, makes these issues more apparent. As such, the position of the Neo-Nazi in recent horror fiction in relation to ideological spaces of conflict in established punk/ hard-core subcultures presents an interesting form of narrative tension that will be explicated in this chapter.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew Blood
Subtitle of host publicationCritical Approaches to Contemporary Horror
EditorsEddie Falvey, Joe Hickinbottom , Jonathan Wroot
PublisherUniversity of Wales Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781786836359
ISBN (Print)9781786836342
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


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