The Wrong Guy

I’m probably the wrong guy to be teaching about punk rock & the Sex Pistols. The most wrong guy that could ever be found, perhaps.

But I’m doing it anyway, and boy am I grateful that I ordered that Greil Marcus book Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century. And that I didn’t get rid of it the first time I tried (unsuccessfully) to read it. I may actually meander my way through the whole thing sometime soon. It’s interesting, if a bit circumstantial at points.

UPDATE: As if on cue, I came across something at Antti’s site, involving French Situationist film (made by overdubbing on Korean film, seemingly North Korean.) Amusing stuff, sort of. The Situationists are a big deal in Marcus’ book, as he sees the punk of the Sex Pistols as a kind of repackaging of Situationist “thinking” or “values” or something.

The question I left my Popular Cultures in English Speaking Countries class with today was this: “If, in the song ‘God Save the Queen’, Johnny Rotten is saying no to God, to England, the Queen and the future, is he saying “No!” to everything? Or is he saying yes to something? What could he be saying yes to?” It’s not as easy a question as one might think, but some students did come up with interesting suggestions — that he’s saying yes to nothing, or that he’s saying no to the upper class’ version or definition of tose things… but I left them with the question, to mull it until next week.

One thought on “The Wrong Guy

  1. I hadn’t realized that movie was a Korean film until I saw it on Antti’s site – I have a copy of it actually, along with several other situationist films (could make a copy if you want).

    Oh, and the Situationist influence on the sex pistols was quite direct – Malcolm McLaren, who ‘managed’ the sex pistols, and Jamie Reid, who did the album and singles’ cover art, were both a part of a British group inspired by the situationists and did things like take the graffiti found on the walls of Paris during the May ’68 uprising and turn them into Sex Pistols lyrics – fun stuff.

    I have to admit I’ve never read all of Lipstick Traces either – its tendency to meander allows him to cover all sorts of fascinating pop culture moments but its lack of focus doesn’t do a lot to draw you in and keep you reading.

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