Friday, November 5, 2010

What I watched last night: The Great Rock and Roll Swindle

Friday, November 5, 2010, 10:14 AM
Last night I watched The Great Rock and Roll Swindle, a somewhat fictionalized account of the birth, short life and demise of the band The Sex Pistols. The Sex Pistols are considered to be one of the most influential bands in rock and roll, much more for the for their lifestyle and the controversy they created than for their musicianship. They were the anti-band; whatever it was, they were against it.
This was the closest I ever got to reading
about The Sex Pistols
Growing up in the small Midwestern town of Norwalk, Ohio, I was in my early teen years during the reign of the Sex Pistols. In the days before the Internet, to learn about anything exotic (anything outside the borders of Ohio),like punk rock, one had to go to the local public library and use the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature to find magazine articles about it. It was dismaying to find that the Rolling Stone magazine that featured the Sex Pistols from October, 1977 had been heavily censored by the staff at the library. The article and any pictures had cut out of the magazine.
The librarian was nonplussed when I confronted her about this act of censorship. She clearly thought that it was the library's job to remove offensive material before making it available to patrons. That did it for me, if the Sex Pistols were against everything, then I was for them.
Today, like a deadbeat dads who desert their infant children the Sex Pistols ceased to be before they got the chance to know their absentee fathers.  But in post bicentennial America eir ill-behaved antics made headlines. Reactions to their outlandish behavior ranged from amused to outrage. The post hippy world didn’t know how to respond to this angry punk rock child.
Johnny Rotten,The iconoclast's iconoclast,
For me the Sex Pistols, with their destroy everything attitude, provided definition to the walls of my cell, giving me an object to butt my head against. At last, I could see what was confining me or so I thought.
Of course such a self-destructive, nihilistic force, does not produce cogent statements or a manifesto of belief beyond “I want to destroy everything.” Paradoxically while calling mass destruction, Johnny Rotten also elected himself as the leader of this movement, urging his fans to “Follow me!”
One of the miracles of our modern age is the Internet. Thanks to the Internet, finally, 30 years after its release, I am able I was able to watch The Great Rock and Roll Swindle, a mockumentary about the Sex Pistols, as from the perspective of Malcolm Mclaren, their manager.
But thanks to the Internet I’m finally able to watch this film 30 years after its release. Up till now I only had a copy of the soundtrack (on vinyl). It is disorienting to see the still images from the record jacket and the sounds from the album put to life in a film. Seeing those boys from 30 years ago who wanted to destroy the world's icons (and refused to become icons themselves) didn't make me feel nostalgic and pine for days gone by.
But I did feel it was a vital part of my education.

 Here is the trailer on YouTube: 

Poor Sid, he took destruction to its end.

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