Monday, October 16, 2006

I wanna be a punka too

There are so many surreal elements to the BBC's reinvention of the 'Culture Show', from the selection of Lauren Laverne (who I still think of as the lead singer of Kenickie all these years later) to the phenomenally predictable intrusion of another 'Greatest Living X' type poll into the series (the appearance in any setting of some kind of hat-tipping exercise in democratising culture/history/politics/science has become so frequent that it's now almost unsettling to see a new edificatory program without one). We can call these the formal surrealities of what is a fairly dull show, but it did have an additional surprise or two during the various videoed sections.

The thing that caught my attention most was during a section on the rediscovery of 'crafts' by a new generation of pretentious young blades. Someone was talking about crochet, or whittling or something equally quaint, and with total conviction asserted that the loose-threaded scarves and roughly thrown and haphazardly glazed mugs had a 'punk rock aesthetic'. Punk means a great deal to a lot of people (though not a lot to me), and has been hijacked and yoked to so many causes now that I wont be causing any sharp intakes of breath in suggesting that the description has become a little devalued. What is more surprising is the staying power of the term; the fact that after all these years, after the cyclical appearance of so many bondage tops in so many charity store/vintage store bins, people still believe in its transfigurative power - in the ability of the words 'punk rock' to turn a scruffy pair of home-made gloves into an act of rebellion.

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