This is where the Kylos are coming from: in the late-1940s, a biker culture developed, culled from people coming back from the war, all about independence, and not necessarily belonging to any one political group. Then, as the Baby Boomer kids started growing up, some protested for civil rights, but there was also a sub-group, in the ’60s, and ’70s of punks, who created a new punk culture. Some punks were liberal, but others were rebelling against their WWII-era parents by wearing all black and adopting the iconography of the Nazis – death heads and the nascent leather culture – some ironically, some not. Now, of course, the punk and leather subcultures today are much bigger than these roots, and include many liberals and progressives.
However, this continuum was harder to figure out back in the ’80s and early ’90s, as the biker, punk, goth, caged fighter and leather culture grew as an underground ballast against the predominant prep and jock culture (“Sixteen Candles,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Footloose”). ’80s culture itself was rehashing the culture of the ’50s, which also had its share of gangsters and bikers – see for example, “West Side Story,” and “Rebel Without a Cause.”
It is from those roots that we get retrofuturistic throwbacks to goth and punk culture (the 2000s punk and goth culture and music, like Avril Lavigne, Fall Out Boy and Evanescence) and cyberpunk (“Serial Experiments Lain,” the “Ghost in the Shell” franchise and its 2017 live-action film, “The Matrix,” “Blade Runner 2049,” “Thor: Ragnarok”), and biker/leather/caged fighter culture (“Mad Max: Fury Road,” UFC, the film “The Wrestler,” professional wrestling, “Sons of Anarchy,” “Fight Club”).
This dichotomy between the mainstream and the underground sub-groups in the ’80s is clearly seen and depicted very well in the “Black Mirror” episode “San Junipero” (Tucker’s v. the Quagmire). Another throwback cultural artifact that encapsulates these observations is Lady Gaga’s music video for her song “Alejandro,” which is itself based on “Cabaret,” and the WWII era of the TV show “Allo Allo.”
This brings us back to the present day, with synthwave, vaporwave, vaportrap and other forms of retrofuturism. The dark side of the proto-fascist weeds that grew up with the punk, biker and goth grain is also coming forward in time: hence fashwave, Trumpwave and the Kylos. Eventually this cultural phenomenon will die out as the ’90s comes forward in time (grunge, “Twin Peaks”) and that whole ’80s mainstream v. subculture dynamic cycles out of the retro-continuity and is completely played out.
There were goths in the ’90s, who now claim they were goth and punk before it was cool. Since they were born in the ’80s, these adherents held on to goth and punk past its sell-by date. Goths and punks have been around from the ’60s and ’70s at least, and as far as the biker culture, as far back as the ’40s. These punk and goth cultural sub-strains never stopped existing; they just went underground at various times in pop culture history. Such people’s “accomplishment” isn’t something to be proud of necessarily: it just shows either a strong allegiance to one fad or subculture or a lack of knowledge of when historic trends are going to cycle back in and come back in style.