According to a report in Crack, Joe Corré – the son of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren, and man behind Agent Provocateur – has announced plans to burn his collection of punk memorabilia, worth a supposed £5 million, in protest at the establishment’s co-opting of punk for the 40th anniversary this year.
He has a point – when august institutions like the Mayor of London, The British Fashion Council, The British Library, the ICA, The Photographers Gallery and the Roundhouse start running punk anniversary celebrations, organised by something called Punk London (because it was all about London, right?) with £99,000 of Lottery funding and the backing of the official London tourist site, then you know that the spirit of rebellion, anarchy and smashing the system is long gone.
As Corré says, “The Queen giving 2016, the Year of Punk, her official blessing is the most frightening thing I’ve ever heard. Talk about alternative and punk culture being appropriated by the mainstream. Rather than a movement for change, punk has become like a fucking museum piece or a tribute act.”
Of course, some might say that this happened long ago – think back to the 25th Jubilee anniversary, or to any number of identikit comedy punk acts, or the plastic punks with regulation mohawks posing for tourist pictures, or the first bands to hurriedly abandon three chord thrash and revolutionary stances when the major labels came calling and punk stopped being trendy (it’s clear than many early punks actually hated the noisy guitar music and couldn’t wait for the New Romantic scene, which allowed room for peacocking without the moshing).
But still – he has a point. And if we ever needed an actual punk revolution, it’s now (we won’t be allowed one, so don’t get your hopes up). As he continues, “A general malaise has now set in amongst the British public. People are feeling numb. And with numbness comes complacency. People don’t feel they have a voice anymore. The most dangerous thing is that they have stopped fighting for what they believe in. They have given up the chase. We need to explode all the shit once more”.
Corré will be destroying his stash – and encouraging others to do likewise – in Camden on November 26th. Whether we’ll be allowed to watch the shit exploding remains to be seen.