Let's Remember When Jenny Jones and Ricki Lake Fueled Panic Over Goths and Punks

Not all ’90s fashion was good—we can do without the frosted lips, thanks—but many of the decade’s trends have enjoyed a healthy comeback in the last few years, from high-waist mom jeans to chokers, to the classic long-sleeved-shirt-underneath-a-short-sleeved-tee combo. Of course, what’s ’90s revival without the resurgence of alt, punk, and goth? These Marilyn Manson Fan Lite™ styles are common sightings when scrolling through Instagram and TikTok, with vintage ’90s pieces selling on Depop faster than Titanic on VhS. But at the time, those same styles landed some unlucky punks on daytime talk shows like The Jenny Jones Show and Ricki Lake, where their friends and family eagerly ripped their appearance apart in front of a live audience.  

Dyed hair, dark makeup, and piercings left preps snickering and parents shaking their heads, wondering what happened to their once sweet children. The kids were all right, of course, just experimenting, as all teens do. Much of the absurd panic surrounding alt fashion seemed to stem from feelings of homophobia or even racism, with these shows providing space for parents, friends, and audience members to shame the gender-bending interviewees back into conforming. Watch the video above to revisit some of the most egregious moments from daytime TV’s attempted punk interventions.

Staff writer, mint chocolate hater.

producer, jezebel

DISCUSSION

reinceprupert
reinceprupert

NPR did it too when Pretty Hate Machine came out in 1994. Can’t find any recording of that anywhere, go figure. They begged for an interview with Trent Reznor, but then also gave airtime and credence to those who were concerned he was spreading an “evil, satanic” message. I remember this because my mother had a shitfit about me listening to NIN at the time specifically because of this piece, because OMG SATANISM and just coming out of the Satanic Panic of the 80s. They pushed it again. Mom has always been a very liberal devout Episcopalian, and this was a concern for many adults so let’s not allude that it was just coming from trash media and the sensible people were fighting against it. I assure you they weren’t.

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