Wednesday, 15 March 2017

TATTOOS, PUNK, AND THE CULTURAL PENDULUM

“What are you rebelling against, Johnny?”

“Whaddya got?”

The Wild One



The cultural pendulum swings, and may be about to complete another interesting arc. But before we watch it swoop through the air, let us consider tattoos.

When I was a boy, no one had tattooes except squaddies and the occasional pub nutter. These scarifications tended to be the usual bestiary of rose and heart, dagger and eagle, Mum and Dad. You were wary of men with tattoos – I never saw a tattoo on a woman in my childhood – and with good reason. A tattoo signified that the wearer was outside of convention, and a tendency to violence was presumed to be waiting in the wings.

Now that everyone with, I believe I am right in saying, the exception of my mother, has tattoos, they are no longer a symbol of rebelliousness but of the norm. Tattoos have become conventional, their wearers orthodox. So it is with political and cultural beliefs.

The Liberal-Left, progressivist, globalist, no-borders, pro-Islamic worldview dictates culture in the West as it stands, if it is still standing. I haven’t checked today. But what will happen when and if the pendulum swings? Populist gains across Europe – and populism is the new racism, the Great Evil – indicate the pendulum has reached the far point of its trajectory and may be about to swing back in the opposite direction. What will happen when the doyens of culture begin to realise this? Let’s take a cultural example from the UK, by way of the USA, from the mid to late 1970s.

Punk rock was a genuine cultural sea-change. Before punk, anyone could form a band provided they had about ten thousand quid. After punk, anyone who could commandeer their dad’s garage, buy a cheap Woolworth’s guitar, borrow a bass with two strings, cobble together a couple of amps from pieces found on the local rubbish tip, and pinch a snare drum and microphone from school could start a punk band. It was glorious.

But the music press was slow to appreciate the swing of the pendulum. My favourite was the writer at a prestigious rock weekly who suggested the best way to appreciate eponymous debut album The Clash was to throw it from his tenth-floor office window. By the time of the classic London Calling, he and just about every other writer was singing a different tune. I have a white-label copy of London Calling, incidentally, given to me by my old flatmate, Topper Headon. But I digress.

The question is whether mainstream media culture is as prone to this slow recognition of change as the notoriously fickle music press. As with the fable of the tattoos, when everyone is doing the same thing, then to rebel means to do something else. At the moment, the only writers dissenting from the mainstream are on the ‘net, mostly on the Alt. Right. But it remains a possibility that, just as music writers realized that to stay hip they had to write about The Damned and not Emerson, Lake and Palmer, so too MSM journalists may realise that they must turn with the tide to stay relevant, particular as immigration into Europe turns sour, which it is. With the sales of some newspapers in free-fall, journalists might be needing a plan B. Or they could just get tattoos.

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