Wednesday, 10 June 2009

I hate the Sex Pistols

Surely, if there is a band upon whose t-shirts one should scrawl one's disgust it is the Sex Pistols, for at least as long as there have been Sex Pistols branded t-shirts to scrawl upon. Now that punk is little more than a heritage industry, with the Pistols at its core, now is the time to repeat John Lydon's gesture of symbolic patricide towards Pink Floyd and crack away at the monolithic edifice of punk's ossified stature. But punk, of course, was always somewhat statuesque. With their Eddie Cochran covers and their hackneyed poses, their fuzz pedals and bar chords, the Pistols were always far more of the tradition than against it. If anything they were more traditional than the rock traditionalists, attempting to renaturalise nature, shed it of its deviant, extra-terrestrial influences. Punk sought to dig beneath the rock, to the dirt and the soil, going underground. An appeal made all the more dubious in a movement famous for its flirtations with fascist imagery. Behind the sloganeering, there is a sense in which punk's real, objective politics mirrored those of another late 70s success story. There is no alternative, it seemed to say with a blunt, uncompromising force. No society and no future. Live - and shop - each day as though there was no such thing as the future. And the deregulated socius of the punk crowd would anticipate the deregulated world of finance and privatised industry to come. But then why repeat Johnny's rotten gesture at all? Why allow ourselves to be haunted by so blithe a spirit? Must our relationship with the music of the past be so transparently Oedipal? Might it not be best, rather than to hate and destroy our forbears, to listen? We might just learn something - perhaps, even, to love.