I was a girl in 1999. I mean, I was a girl in 1993 (when blink-182 recorded their first demo), and I was a girl when “Dammit” was on heavy late-night cable rotation in 1997. But by the time “What’s My Age Again?” was getting radio air I was a girl, a body, sexually situated and old enough to start thinking of myself as A Girl. And then, by the time “All the Small Things” was ubiquitous, I was A Girl negotiating girlhood in the notoriously hypermediated year 2000. And by the time Take Off Your Pants and Jacket was released in 2001, I was, of all things, a self-styled Punk Rock Girl. Maybe I don’t need to say it, but I will say it anyway: in the late 90’s and early aughts, blink-182 and the particular pop culture climate that created them had everything to do with my adolescence, my identity, and how I understood what it meant to be a girl. And, maybe more importantly—
I hated blink-182.
(Oh hey, my name is Rikki but everyone calls me RGR and I have a women’s studies minor and a blog and a lot of feelings.)
We cannot examine how much we like this band or why we like this band without addressing the time we’ve spent hating this band. Most of us hated them, right? If you were a preteen punk, or a kid that got picked on, or even just some high-school sophomore who maybe overidentified with Stephen Malkmus, there’s a pretty solid likelihood that you’ve dropped the “poser” bomb once or twice in conversation. (Or at a least, like, you called Tom Delonge a douchebag.) It wasn’t cool for hip kids to like blink-182, and it wasn’t cool for uncool kids to like blink-182. I hated blink-182 in my adolescence and then, after that, I spent nearly a decade forgetting that they ever existed.
This hatred, and the halls in which it festered, to me, is as much a text as anything—a reading of blink-182 is a reading of our own situated identities and our relationships to media (and, duh, high school) in the late 1990s and the early 2000s. There is no blink-182 without these things.
Oh oh oh this is so promising. I don’t know how to weigh age/geography/gender divide here but I can say that circa ‘99/2000, in Southern California middle school and early high school, it was perfectly fine and cool and normal for my dorky dumb self and friends to like this band. A lot.