Kevin Mattson - We're Not Here to Entertain Virtual Event

Kevin Mattson - We're Not Here to Entertain Virtual Event

Tuesday, Sep 29, 2020 7:00 PM

A Cappella Books on Zoom

A Cappella Books welcomes author and historian Kevin Mattson for the second September installment of our virtual music series. Mattson will join GSU history professor and author John McMillian and music journalist and Smithsonian Folkways editor Chad Radford to discuss his new book, “We're Not Here to Entertain: Punk Rock, Ronald Reagan, and the Real Culture War of 1980s America.”

This event is free and open to the public.

A Cappella Books will have copies of " We're Not Here to Entertain" available after the event. Pre-order via the link below. At checkout, choose between the local delivery, curbside pick-up, or shipping options. For zip codes not listed in the above banner, select curbside pick-up or USPS shipping.


About the Book

Many remember the 1980s as the era of Ronald Reagan, a conservative decade populated by preppies and yuppies dancing to a soundtrack of electronic synth pop music. In some ways, it was the “MTV generation.” However, the decade also produced some of the most creative works of punk culture, from the music of bands like the Minutemen and the Dead Kennedys to avant-garde visual arts, literature, poetry, and film. In We’re Not Here to Entertain, Kevin Mattson documents what Kurt Cobain once called a “punk rock world”—the all-encompassing hardcore-indie culture that incubated his own talent. Mattson shows just how widespread the movement became—ranging across the nation, from D.C. through Ohio and Minnesota to LA—and how democratic it was due to its commitment to Do-It-Yourself (DIY) tactics.

Throughout, Mattson puts the movement into a wider context, locating it in a culture war that pitted a blossoming punk scene against the new president. Reagan’s talk about end days and nuclear warfare generated panic; his tax cuts for the rich and simultaneous slashing of school lunch program funding made punks, who saw themselves as underdogs, seethe at his meanness. The anger went deep, since punks saw Reagan as the country’s entertainer-in-chief; his career, from radio to Hollywood and television, synched to the very world punks rejected. Through deep archival research, Mattson reignites the heated debates that punk’s opposition generated in that era—everything from “straight edge” ethics to anarchism to the art of dissent. By reconstructing the world of punk, Mattson demonstrates that it was more than just a style of purple hair and torn jeans. In so doing, he reminds readers of punk’s importance and its challenge to simplistic assumptions about the 1980s as a one-dimensional, conservative epoch.

About the Author

Kevin Mattson is Connor Study Professor of Contemporary History at Ohio University. His research focuses on the intersection of ideas and politics in the twentieth century. He is on the editorial board of Dissent magazine, and the author and co-editor of many books, including Just Plain Dick, What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President?, and, most recently, We’re Not Here to Entertain. His writing has appeared in the American Prospect, the Nation, the New York Times Book Review, Salon, and the Guardian. He has made numerous media appearances, including on NPR, Fox News, C-SPAN, and The Colbert Report.