Punk Is Dead

London, The Arts

McLaren & Westwood 1977

You still see the odd Punk in the King’s Road, usually a student who has stumbled upon old photographs and meticulously copied the clothes and hairstyle. One would like to think that punk evolved to oppose the Skinhead movement, but the streets weren’t filled with Skinheads and Punks attacking each other’s idealogies. To me, Punk felt primarily like a fashion fad centred around a single Chelsea shop, Boy, which created a bad but exciting band and was finally seized upon by a handful of nihilistic trustafarians who talked of revolution without ever fomenting it. It was certainly hated by everyone else except music critics who were desperate for something new to write about. You’d have thought it might bring about the end of the world, the way people overreacted.

Well, Malcolm McLaren has died at 64 from cancer (how did he get to be that old so quickly?) and remained a grandstanding showman to the end, and even though we’d all seen through him by then it didn’t matter, because the British public, in its infinitely perverse wisdom, had decided to turn him into a national treasure. Today’s Independent headline said ‘Drab world of pop needs MacLaren’s brand of anarchy’. Funny, that’s not what the press said at the time.

It’s a mark of our forgiving nature that Vivienne Westwood, seen here in her anti-Monarchist shirt, should eventually be ordained a Dame of the British Empire by the very person she was mocking.

Last week, an Evening Standard column interviewing Boy George began ‘George O’Dowd recently served time in jail for chaining a rent boy to his bed. His new album is out on Monday.’ Nothing surprises us anymore, which can only be regarded as a good thing in my book.