This week saw Joe Corre, son of Malcolm McClaren and Vivienne Westwood – you may also know him as the founder of Agent Provocateur – do something rather strange. It was a protest, which saw £5m worth of punk memorabilia, including a one of a kind acetate recording of ‘Anarchy in the UK’ quite literally go up in flames on a barge in the middle of the River Thames. The protest was against ‘Punk London’ – a celebration of 40 years of punk rock, including workshops on ‘How to be punk’, hosted by the Museum of London.
Lots of people seem to be very annoyed about it. I do think he rather had a point, although I have to say I don’t think he managed to get it across terribly well. He said punk was never meant to be nostalgic; which seems to me a rather lame excuse for his actions. What he should have said was that the very act of ‘the establishment’ legitimising and endorsing the punk movement effectively undermines its fundamental tenets. Punk is anti-establishment, it is anarchic, it is nonconformist and gives a metaphoric two-finger salute to The System. What Punk London manages to achieve is the emasculation of the very movement it wants to celebrate!
If you ask me, burning that memorabilia is exactly the sort of affirmative action that any self-respecting old school punk would have taken to make a point back in the days when protesting the status quo really meant something.
I’ve always considered SL as being a little bit anarchic and perhaps just a touch anti-establishment too. There is much that goes on inworld that clearly says to convention ‘screw you’, and it seems to me that many SL residents have a rebellious streak, a fair bit of attitude, and a stubborn resistance to conformity. We don’t like to be told what to do, how to do it, or why we should; are highly individualistic and are more than willing to ‘stick it to the man’, given the slightest opportunity.
I’m not for one moment suggesting that SL bears anything but a passing resemblance to the punk movement, but nevertheless that resemblance is there, and it’s good to know that even when the the last strongholds of anarchy and freedom of expression are succumbing to becoming rather twee and acceptable – the sort of thing you can do in front of your granny, and not receive a clip around the ear – in SL at least, we have something of a bastion of the punk ethos, even if it isn’t quite as in your face as Sid Vicious spitting in your eye!
Maybe punk is dead, after all… But, whatever Joe Corre might say, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgic pogoing now and again.
Just so long as it’s not sanitised, endorsed by the establishment and sugar-coated until it achieves a veneer of politically correct, saccharine, doing-as-it’s-told respectability.
Bollocks to that!
How many ways to get what you want
I use the best
I use the rest
I use the enemy
I use anarchy
The Sex Pistols – Anarchy In The UK