20 April 2012

Tweed Punks

'With hindsight, the Sex Pistols seem the quintessential product of the 1970s, their apparent attempts to defy all the inherited moral traditions echoing, in a strange way, the despondent elegies of the ‘extreme right’. Old General Walker, darling of the Monday Club and other far-right organisations of the time, with his horror of ‘blacks, yellows and slant-eyes’, his wish for a military coup to cure ‘this awful sleeping sickness’ of the country, his horror at homosexuals (‘who use the main sewer of the human body as a playground’) is not so very different from John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, with his ‘Anarchy in the UK’. Both articulated feelings of outrage which decent radio channels and newspapers would not carry. Punk, too, was at times quasi-fascist (‘I think Hitler was very good actually’--Siouxsie Sioux) but also fundamentally wistful about what had been destroyed and lost. Sandbrook [author of Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain, 1974-1979] shrewdly quotes a view that there was a puritan streak in Malcolm Maclaren and Vivienne Westwood’s demonisation of SEX (the name they gave their shop). Johnny Rotten’s cry to his audience: ‘I bet you don’t hate us as much as WE hate YOU’ is exactly mirrored by the arch-reactionary Philip Larkin’s attitude to his readers. Even Mrs Thatcher, though not a Nazi sympathiser, had something of the Siouxsie Sioux about her, and her perception of herself as someone who said the unsayable and did the undoable was surely the reason for her success, first in her own party and then with the electorate.'

A.N. Wilson, 'Rotten, vicious times', The Spectator, 14 April 2012

1 comment:

eradica said...

I wonder if the spirit is attainable ever again; it appears Punk lost, when looking at today's London.