April 9, 2010

Malcolm McLaren, 1946-2010

"I don't know if punk started out as a rejection of pop music or life in the UK at that time. Certainly, as soon as it started, as soon as the Sex Pistols began to perform as a public outrage and even before they released their first record, a whole conflict of symbolism immediately gathered and was drawn to what they were doing. None of this was accidental because Malcolm McLaren and Jamie Reid, who were the real college-educated Col. Parkers of this movement, had a Situationist background and were schooled in a haphazard way in nihilist European art politics going all the way back to the 19th century. They knew that architecture could be as repressive as a law (that would) put people in jail for criticizing the government. They believed that the music that people heard every day had as much of an effect on how people thought of themselves as anything people learned in school. They saw records as a way to disrupt the assumptions that people didn't question, that people used to hold themselves together. This is to say that these were the assumptions that held society together. I don't think they saw records, performances and songs as a way to change the world as such. It was more of a theft- 'let's set off a bomb and see what happens.'
"Within that perspective, everything was a target. Pink Floyd are no more or no less the enemy than the government."

Greil Marcus, 1997.