Friday, November 25, 2016
Before it became a musical genre, when it didn't quite know what it was (only what it wasn't), punk, or what came to be called punk rock, was a burlesque that took its cues from a softening of the artistic mainstream ("rock" music) and a hardening of a political culture (government deregulation, trickle-down economics, the unravelling of the welfare state) designed to usher in the world we know today, where power is brokered not through representational politics but through finance.
The politics of punk, as far as I could tell in the mid-to-late-1970s, was not about changing the world but performing its contradictions. In this respect, it is not unlike how Angela Carter described the power of the pornographic image in her book The Sadeian Woman (1978), how pornography, too, is a burlesque of a supposition-ridden patriarchal mainstream, how for every Batman there is a Buttman, but also how we must be vigilant when experiencing the self-conscious use of pornography as a critical apparatus. "Beware the moral pornographer," Carter wrote. I would apply the same to those who look to a moral punk rocker to represent them.